I bought an old LTI fairway taxi on Ebay. It seemed to make sense at the time,they can seat seven with a seat added in the front passenger side (normally used for luggage),have a economical diesel engine,are automatic,have a nifty turning circle etc etc. But what has the reality been?
In a word great.These things are just about indestructible.The Nissan engines which are 2.7 litre diesels as fitted to the Terrannos etc,are said to be good for 400,000 miles at least and the rest of the running gear is about as tough.Most are automatic,with an 'overdrive' actuated by a button next to the gear selector.Some manual five speed models were made.The bodies rust a bit but they have a seperate chassis so that's not as critical as modern cars.Most panels are available new, and as large numbers of these British icons are being broken for spares as they become too old to be used as hire vehicles,secondhand parts are easily sourced.They are easy to pull to bits,the wings,doors,sills and floors all unbolt and nearly as easy to put back together.The interior is all held in place with self tapping screws and most of it is plastic.The floorboards are removable and you can change the exhaust sitting inside the car. The performance is reasonable considering the weight of the things and with power brakes and power steering they aren't hard work to drive.The earlier versions of the fairways have drum front brakes and the later disc braked versions are a better bet,being easier to repair and a better drive.
The doors open wide and there's almost as much room as a medium sized van,you can carry a wheelchair and most have ramps to help load one.The rear seat simply lifts up,I've had a large table,a fridge and washing machine in mine (though not all at the same time) If you dislike back seat drivers,just slide the partition across and silence reigns supreme.
They do close on thirty to the gallon and spare parts are easy enough to get and reaonably priced.The battery is a monumental thing that wouldn't look out of place on a juggernaut and is expensive to replace,it should like the rest of the thing last for ever if looked after.
I tried running my taxi with two stroke oil added to the fuel This gave a smoother and quieter ride although fuel econiomy was unchanged.Driving is fun.The doors lock when you drive off (good safety point with kids) and the passengers have their own seperate heater.The windows slide up and down (apart from the passenger side front which,on some is electric) The view over the bonnet reminds you of the old black and white cops and robbers films and for those of a certain age maybe rides down the seaside.People smile and wave,but contrary to what I was told I haven't been flagged down very often.Taxi drivers often stop and chat,the fairways and FX4s seem to have a loyal following and ex drivers are usually only too willing to pass on tips and advice.There are plenty of forums about to join and loads of web pages featuring carbodies taxis.The story of my restoration is on my web site
All in all owning my old black cab (even though it's blue) has proved a worthwhile and enjoyable experience.I recommend it to anyone.
There are various taxi forums where you can gain information and find out about spares etc. I have put a taxi page on the web detailing what running my taxi has involved over the past few years. Google "Baconsdozen" to find it.