Anyone who’s lived in London, or even visited the city, retains an affection for the famous “London Taxi.” It is the most recognised, and by far the best, taxi in the world. Once out of service, car collectors buy and maintain them, thus every retired London taxicab becomes a classic. The vehicle in our photo is the newest model, the TX4, launched today, built by LTI Vehicles which traces its history back to Carbodies in 1919. The new TX4 has a cleaner, more efficient Euro IV compliant diesel engine from VM Motori, new transmissions, the addition of anti-lock braking, a smoother ride, user-friendly interior equipment and facilities for the disabled, and still has the famous 25-foot turning circle required by the Public Carriage Office. It is not unusual for a London cab to cover over 1,000,000 miles in a 10 year period. My particular favorite is the Buckingham, which carried luggage on a platform beside the driver, who sat in a one-person cockpit.


British Cars

Though best known for its high-end events in the United States, Canada’s RM Auctions annually conducts a classic car sale at the International Center in Mississaugua, Ontario, a suburb of Toronto. This year’s event takes place October 20 through the 22nd and promises to be the best yet. Not surprisingly the list of consignments is heavy on muscle and pony cars but there are some notable exceptions, including a 1937 supercharged Cord Phaeton and this restored 1954 Chevrolet Corvette. I’m one of those who feel the original is the most attractive of all Corvettes; as well, I like the compact dimensions and if I were bidding on one I wouldn’t be put off by the 3-carb inline 6-cylinder Blue Flame engine. In fact, I’d rather enjoy being different from all those V-8’s out there. If you’re a seller, registrations are still being taken, so get in touch with RM Auctions via their Web site or call 1-800-4371.


Pony cars

Wandering past the Blackhawk exhibit at Pebble Beach I came upon not one, but two, restored Amphicars, presumably up for sale. Introduced in the 60’s when people were into small runabouts but couldn’t always afford both a boat and a car, the German Amphicar married the two modes of transport. It was best used on rivers and relatively small lakes, as the freeboard (the amount of hull above the waterline) was quite small and waves could easily swamp the craft. 3837 Amphicars were manufactured and it is estimated that half survive and between 300 and 600 still swim. I was reminded of the Amphicar when perusing an article in The Truth About Cars that asked for nominations for “the car most likely to attract women.” The author, Stefan Wilkinson, suggested that the usual “studly Italian V12’s, check-out-my-package Teutons, midlife-crisis American roadsters, horny-royal Astons and phallic-as-you-wanna-be XKE’s” wouldn’t cut it next to an Amphicar. The moment I buy my Amphicar_red I’ll put that theory to the test, but I suspect Stefan is correct.


Oddball Autos

Directly behind my condo complex is a Travelodge motel. I often walk through the motel parking lot, using it as a shortcut. Today I was surprised to spot several antique automobiles parked there, including a 1911 Stanley Steamer. It was the first time I’d seen a steam-powered car on the road as prior exposures had been in museums. Ah, but the best was yet to come. I dashed home to grab the Nikon and after a brief conversation with the owner, Vern Welburn, was asked if I’d like to go for a ride. Would I? What a thrill! A steamer is quite unlike a normal car as no gears are required, though the driver must be adept with the throttle lever and various other controls needed to maintain power. The brakes were better than expected and one of the delights was the chuffing sound of the engine, rather like a steam locomotive. At idle there was no sound whatsoever. This Stanley Steamer was bought new by the City of Vancouver and at one time was owned by Vern’s father, Gerry. Original except for the boiler and tires (and an extra water tank) it cruises at 35 and has a range of 40 miles. That’s Vern posing with his Stanley but what you can’t see is the mile-wide smile on my face.


Antique Autos

Over the years I’ve read about the Horch automobile and viewed many photos but this was the first time seeing one in the metal. And what a shock it was, because at first glance I thought it had to be a Mercedes, one of those mammoth 500K’s Nazi leaders liked to be chauffered in before the war! The marque has a fascinating history, dating back to August Horch’s first car in 1901; unfortunately a falling out with the directors of his company in 1909 led him to create a new auto manufacturer named – are you ready for this? – AUDI. Meanwhile the Horch, minus August, established a reputation for quality engineering which frequently put it in competition with Mercedes. At the 1939 German Motor Show Horch displayed some spectacular automobiles, including the rare120 hp, straight-eight, Model 853 seen here in the Steamworks Concours. The “sale” sign was not intended for the Steamworks Concours but seemed an appropriate background