Any visitor to the London during the 1980s and 1990s would have instantly recognised the Austin FX4 taxi. It is one of Britain's most well known motoring icons and its style has been imitated by later London taxi designs. The Austin FX4 became a regular sight in towns and cities across the country, but especially in London. From 1982 onwards production switched to Carbodies, later becoming London Taxis International (LTI). The FX4 remained in production for nearly forty years. Some 75,000 examples were produced by Austin and Carbodies/LTI between 1958 and end of production in 1997. The FX4 is a much less common sight in London as the introduction of successive new taxi models, have replaced the famous FX4 model with cleaner, more fuel-efficient models.
The design of the FX4 was a collaboration between Austin, taxi-dealers Mann & Overton and coachbuilders Carbodies. In Britain taxis must be approved by the Public Carriage Office (PCO). Requirements include a turning circle of just 25ft/7.6 metres.
The FX4 used a update of it's predecessor's chassis (the FX3) but with a new body. The first production prototype FX4 was approved by the PCO on 14 July 1958. The prototype, registered VLW 431, was used to evaluate the design.
By November 1958 the FX4 was on sale in Britain. Austin also produced a private-hire version, the FL2. In service a number of issues arose with the FX4. Carbodies also had problems manufacturing the FX4's body panels. The FX4 received a face-lift in 1968 which addressed some of these issues. A larger diesel engine was available from 1971.
After production moved to Carbodies in 1982 and LTI in 1984 more revisions were made including a number of different engine options over the years. The FX4 was replaced by the LTI TX1 in 1997, but they remain a common sight on London's streets.