To most people, the Austin Twelve Landaulet is the archetypal London taxicab of the 1930s. Introduced in 1921, the Twelve, together with the Seven, saved the Austin Motor Company from bankruptcy. The Twelve was a conventional car, soundly engineered in the best Austin tradition, powered by a 1,660cc (later 1,861cc) four-cylinder side-valve engine driving via a four-speed gearbox. Such was the Twelve's reputation for durability that it was used for a number of commercial variants and became the London cab-drivers' favourite, enjoying an extended lease of life in this role that lasted well into the 1930s and beyond.
Austin used the dependable 12/4 as the basis of their first London taxicab of 1930 and the model would go on to dominate the market. Built to a mechanical specification dictated by the Metropolitan Police's demanding Conditions of Fitness, and expensive to produce because of the low volumes involved, most enjoyed lengthy careers in service. Indeed, pre-war Austin taxis could still be seen plying for hire at prime tourist locations in London in the early 1960s.
Registered 'FGT 532', a London plate, this Austin 12/4 taxicab features the model's landaulet 'Flashlot' coachwork and comes complete with 'For Hire' sign, working fare meter and luggage. Used as a London taxi throughout the war and on into the 1950s, the vehicle was then exported to a museum in Canada where it remained until 1999. Since returning to the UK, 'FGT 532' has been on display at the Exmoor Classic Car Museum in Porlock, Somerset, which acquired it in 2002, and was purchased by the current vendor when the museum's cars were dispersed.
The engine was 'de-coked' and a new cylinder head gasket fitted in 2009, while in 2013 the clutch was replaced, the distributor rebuilt, and five new tyres and tubes fitted. A full service was carried out this year. The vendor has taken the Austin to the Goodwood Revival meeting on three occasions and enjoyed many family outings in the car, which is said to run beautifully, with excellent oil pressure and no overheating.
Finished in blue over black, coachlined in red, with matching leather interior trim and black hood, 'FGT 532' is offered with recent bills, current MoT/tax and V5C document. An opportunity to acquire a restored Austin taxicab ideally suited to high days and holidays, as well as period-set film and television work.