Taxi Talk: Interesting Taxi Facts

We explore the history of the taxi trade and uncover interesting facts which may test your knowledge about the taxi profession.

When was the taxi first invented?

If you are clued up on your taxi knowledge, this name may resonate with you. Gottlieb Daimler built the word’s first taxi in 1897 – the Daimler Victoria – and this was designed with the newly invented taxi meter.
Daimler’s company – which registered ‘Mercedes’ as a trademark in 1901 – went on to merge with Karl Benz’s company to become Daimler-Benz in 1926 – the company that we have eventually come to know as Mercedes-Benz.

Who set the world’s first taxi company up?

In the same year (1897), the Daimler taxi was delivered to a man named Friedrich Greiner, a German entrepreneur who then started the world’s first motorised taxi company.
Where does the word taxi meter come from?

The taxi meter was invented in 1891 by Greiner – prior to his first-ever motorised taxi business, as he used carriages initially – and is used to record distances and calculate your cab fare. It is said, the name ‘taximeter’ comes from the Mid-Latin ‘taxa’, meaning tax or charge.

When did taxis first reach the UK?

The first motorised ‘taxicabs’ to hit London’s streets were electric, but they proved unreliable and expensive and were eventually replaced with petrol taxis. Nicknamed ‘Berseys’ after their designer Walter C. Bersey, fifty of these electric taxis were at work in London within the year.
Funny how things are now likely to be coming full circle with the reintroduction of electric taxis in our cities, isn’t it?

London’s first petrol-driven taxi was licensed on the 11th December 1903.

Horse-drawn taxis worked alongside their motorised counterparts until the end of WWII when the last licence was issued.

Why are London taxis black?
The Austin FX-4 is the iconic black cab and was in production from 1958-1996, an updated version of the classic hit the streets of Tokyo in 1989 sold as the ‘Big Ben Novelty Car’. The FX is the reason behind why all London Hackney Carriages tend to be black in colour. Until 1948, you could purchase a taxi in any variety of colour, but the FX3 was produced in black as standard and buyers had to pay extra for other colours.

This then set the trend for newer models.

The anonymity afforded by black cabs hasn’t gone unnoticed by celebrities and several have owned them to get around, including The Duke of Edinburgh, Kate Moss and Stephen Fry.

Do taxi drivers have bigger brains?

Well, cabbies will know themselves to be intelligent people – especially so where London taxi drivers are concerned. That’s because studies show that their learning of ‘the Knowledge’ leads them to have a larger hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for spatial memory and navigation – than the general population.
Perhaps that’s why Fred Housego, one of the most famous London taxi drivers of all, won Mastermind in 1980!

Where’s the best place to get taxi insurance?

If you’re looking for a fare deal on taxi insurance, you’ll have to go a long way to beat ChoiceQuote. Visit our taxi insurance page for a quote or call our dedicated team on 01625 400201.