Features, High Mile Club

High Mile Club

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1997 LTI FX4 Fairway – 459770 Miles
For the past 17 years, Lesley Bennett’s immaculate white LTI FX4 Fairway taxi has been a familiar sight on London streets. She has had some interesting people in the back of her cab, including Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Windsor, and even the Queen and Prince Andrew. No, not the real ones, they were lookalikes, but she did a double-take when they first got in!

In all that time the 1997 R-reg London taxi, with its 2.7-litre Nissan diesel engine and automatic gearbox, has proved very reliable. It has had no major work on the engine while it has been heading four and a half times around the clock, but it has had a steering box replacement in 2012. Other work included new seats and carpet, a replacement exhaust, as well as a full respray four years ago. And of course it has been regularly serviced every two to three months throughout its life.

Now, to her chagrin, it has been pensioned off from city duty. It has been outlawed from plying its trade at the cab ranks by the Mayor of London’s air quality strategy, which outlaws cabs more than 15 years old. Lesley’s cab is not the only one affected, around 3,000 others have also been driven out of business. So she has been forced to replace her faithful classic-looking Fairway with a new TX4 taxi, which is in the same unusual colour – Ford Diamond White.
What happens now to the high-miler Fairway? It stays on the road in a new role. Lesley plans to keep it going as a wedding car, and has even taken a floristry course so she can deck it out with bridal flowers. It is just as well that it is only cabs, not cabbies, who have a 15-year limit. Lesley has been a cab driver for 24 years, since taking it up as a steady income when she was a single mum with two young boys to support and bring up.

What’s the secret to keeping a vehicle going strong for such an elevated mileage? “Look after it well and keep on top of any jobs all the time,” says Linda. “This is not just a cab to me, I’m very proud of it and how well it goes and looks. I’m just sorry it’s been driven off the road as a London taxi. That’s Boris’s fault. On its last day, I drove it around town with black balloons attached. From now on it’ll be white ribbons instead.”

Sue Baker

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