In a world where automobile badges such as the horse of Ferrari or the Bull of Lamborghini dominate iconic status, the real measure of an iconic vehicle is when it is recognisable in a way where the badge and vehicle manufacturer is relatively unknown by most around the world.
Instead, it’s shape, colour and road swagger shine through in some of the busiest cities around the globe. In this edition we are paying homage to not only icons amongst taxi vehicles, but icons amongst the world of transportation with street cred that demands respect.
When you think of London, you think of Big Ben, red buses, red phone boxes and black taxis. Known for its instantly recognisable unique shape, sophisticated style, large front grille and orange for-hire light, the London black taxi is arguably the undisputed heavyweight of iconic taxis the world over. The origin of the taxi can be traced back to 1605, when the first ever public hackney coach service for hire began operating in London.
Samuel’s Electric Carriage Wagon Company; sound familiar? Probably not. But this is the company you can thank for kick-starting the trend for what is now, without-a-doubt, one of the top two iconic taxi/ vehicles the world has ever seen. Their venture, which started in 1897, saw the firm become the first taxicab company in town, making 12 electric hansom cabs available for hire by the public. Ten years later, with the taxi industry proving to be the way forward for travel, the city’s first gasoline-powered taxis were imported from France and given a fresh splash of paint. The colour of choice was the iconic yellow we still see today, chosen in order to be visible from a distance.
With its black body and yellow rooftop, the Mumbai taxi is by-far one of the world’s most charming vehicles. Looking almost like a compressed model of the New York taxi, this non-air-conditioned Fiat cab, which was first introduced in 1911, is definitely one to respect. But if you do ever find yourself travelling to India and fancy a trip in one, strap in tight, because the chaotic streets of Mumbai can leave the toughest of passengers quaking in their boots.
It will come as no surprise to see a German city on this list. Known for their love of sleek high-end corporate style vehicles, Munich taxis ooze comfort. Taxi drivers navigate the streets of Munich from behind the wheel of a number of different models including BMW and Audi. But the vehicle of choice for the majority, and its most iconic car for taxi work, proudly wears the Mercedes-Benz badge. Painted with an off-white metallic coat, Munich’s taxis can hold their own against most from around the world.
The make of taxis navigating the Catalan city varies, but the one thing that makes them stand out from a crowd is their striking colour-way. With their sparkling black and deep yellow colour-coded panels, Barcelona’s taxis scream quality.
Three different types of taxi vehicles cover different territories, but the most recognisable and iconic Hong Kong taxi can be found all over Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. With its Ferrari-like red body panels and silver roof, Hong Kong taxis demand respect and complete our roundup of the world’s most iconic taxis.