Project Description

Austin FL1 Taxi Hire Car

Markie Says: “Reminds me of Black and White films ”

Taxi anyone?

Really it’s not a taxi. The FX3 was the taxi, this was the private hire car, which is probably why it’s only got 60’000 miles on it. The FX3 looked the same except it had a Taxi sign on the roof and the front side where the passenger normally goes was a compartment for your luggage. The FL1 was a private hire car you couldn’t flag down, instead of the compartment for luggage the FL1 has a door leading to a bench seat which seats 3 including the driver and it is quite spacious. In the back it has a bench seat for 2 or 3 small ones, in front of that are 2 built in fold down seats. In total 8 people – be it some small ones.

I was originally looking out for a Austin Cambridge 16 after seeing one been restored at Lincoln bus museum and thought it would be great for me and Alice and Sister and Acker to go off to a 40’s weekend as they were so big and period as these things sort of stayed the same before and after the war. Then this turned up and thought this would be perfect to do the step daughters up and coming wedding!

Imaging the fun all the kids with me driving them around! Silly me I bought it without looking, the very nice chap from a very well to do village said ‘it was a good one’ and didn’t need much doing to it. One mans ‘nothing or not a lot needs doing to it’ is another mans ‘strip it back to bare metal and do it all up’. Argh, it just wasn’t good enough to do a wedding and I’m not talking a mint car you dare not drive incase it gets a scratch. I don’t mind some wear and tear, I prefer a useable car you can park up.

For one thing the doors dropped when opened, the doors are heavy and screwed into wood! The repairs to the rusty parts were just well – why do people think they can weld when they just can’t? People should just leave well alone! Saying that there is only a couple of places that needs some repairing, which is nothing for me to do, but it needs doing. These cars were never designed to last 70 years, they are full of holes where road salt and water can stand and what happens – it’s not surprising there aren’t many left. A true rarity and icon of England and London like a Red double decker bus, a Red telephone box and a Red mail box. I should do it Red.

Obviously we didn’t use it for the wedding. I started to strip it to do a nut and bolt restoration. I got to a point I can see the work which needs doing and I’m all ready to start. Then thought ‘just how fast would this thing go, if we head off to the seaside would it be so hard work it would be painful in these modern times! I thought about tuning the engine, then thought the suspension springs need redoing or replacing. The brakes are all drum – umm!

By some strange fate, I was talking about it with my crazy mate Rob Skipsey everyones number plate man. He runs LDV Sherpas and raves about them – well he would when everyone else slags them off. A mutual mate had a pick up, we measured the engine width and height, then gearbox, then axle widths and lengths and blow me it was all the same even the steering box is in the same place! All that needed doing was shorten the prop shaft. And this LDV only had 48’000 miles and with it been a diesel engine perfect for a transplant. And the transplant would modernise the ride for trips and weddings, even though the LDV still isn’t the fastest engine around and not the quietist, it will do 70mph and drive easy at 30mph – just maybe!

I just haven’t got there yet. The LDV passed the MOT 2 years running, it’s a load of rubbish but it works and we love driving it on the food run. One day I will say ‘no the FL1 stays original’ or I say ‘I’m doing the transplant’ – or it’s one project to far – time will tell.