The black London cab is a true icon of the UK — probably due to the Austin’s basic design, which has not changed in more than 70 years! These cabs revolutionized how civilians got from place to place on a daily basis. They’re still running strong in Britain, and are a preferred medium for British advertisers. Aoshima’s model represents a 1948–1959 Austin FX4.
Assembly begins with the chassis. It’s molded as one piece with rear suspension, engine bottom, drive train and exhaust molded onto the chassis pan. Apparently, this kit was motorized at one time, as there is a box for a AA battery to fit into, and a hole molded in for an on/off switch. The front suspension is simple as well, but does offer some detail. The front spindles have great engraved detail on the back sides. There are even drum brakes.
Due to the model’s motorized lineage, the interior is disappointing. However, it can be built to look good. The interior floor has the driver’s seat, rear bench seat, and parking brake molded integrally. But painting the seats to contrast with the floor, as the instructions show, helps bring the interior to life. The dashboard is well-done, and there are three gauge decals. The steering column and wheel, shifter, two-piece front-seat back, and chrome-plated rearview mirror complete the interior.
The body is a single, nicely molded piece. But it needs more detail. Side marker lights should be covered with foil, then painted clear orange. The window trim, door handles, and rear body emblems need foil, too. The windows mount inside the body; I found the one-piece side windows tricky.
The focal point is the engine, but the only detail is of the cam cover, intake system, and exhaust manifold, which are molded to a bucket representing the engine bay. Wires and plumbing are also molded on this piece, as are two large batteries. Separate parts include three fluid-bottle caps, the radiator, a two-piece overflow tank, and a retractable hood support. Vinyl tubes representing hoses and battery cables add further detail.
The hood hinges were finicky. They’re supposed to be trapped by the interior bucket and the engine bay bucket, but the tolerances are too tight for the hood to open and close freely. I left the separate hinges off. The retractable hood support doesn’t work too well, either.
Wheels and tires look good. The fronts install via a metal pin from the outside, which is secured in place by the spindles. The rears are mounted on a solid metal axle. A small chrome-plated, dog-dish hubcap is included for each wheel. These parts trap the metal pins in the front wheels. My only nit is the tires: They are too new for a 1950s taxi. The Bridgestones would look better on a modern pickup truck.
Final assembly is really a breeze. The roof sign, windshield wipers, fender-mounted mirrors, grille, turn signals, bumper, and license plate are all separate parts for the front half of the taxi. The headlights are two-piece units for each side, and they also help reveal the model’s past, which apparently featured working lights as well; the chrome headlight buckets have deep, molded holes for a small light bulb. On the completed model, the holes create a strange “google-eye” effect. Taillights, a chrome fuel filler cap, and the rear bumper complete the assembly.
The decals are the final step. Along with the gauges inside, there are two license plates and a taxicab permit to be located on the rear deck lid.
This is definitely an unusual subject, and a refreshing change of pace. The final result is excellent — I’ve already thought of a few projects for it. I’d recommend it to any modeler looking for something different.
A version of this review appeared in the May 2012 issue of FineScale Modeler.