Here’s some ads for 1962 taxi cabs, although Checker is conspicuously missing. Just as well, as that would undoubtedly win by a metered mile. Back then, the great majority of taxis were owned by cab companies, and drivers typically were paid a percentage of fares (roughly 50%). You’re buying for whatever size fleet you want to own, which could 100 or just a single one for yourself.
My choice does not include either of these Pontiacs; the Tempest’s droning and shaking big four cylinder would get tedious, and who in their right mind would buy a four door hardtop for a taxi? The idea of passengers swinging the rear door shut via the frameless window pane all day gives me the willies. Someone was asleep at the wheel when they put that Catalina hardtop in the ad.`
The big Chevy has a few things going for it, including the bulletproof Powerglide and 235 six (in its last year). But it’s bigger than it really needs to be, the manual steering is slow and dull, and the handling is mediocre. I drove a ’70 Chevy taxi with the 250 six, PG, manual steering and brakes, and it was pretty deadly. But it had well over half a million miles on it and still did the job, until one morning a ball joint snapped while stopping for a red light. That was the end for it.
This is an interesting prospect. It’s the right size, has pretty good rear leg room, although the high floor negates some of that, and it’s probably about as or more solidly built as any. Negatives are the iffy ohv six that liked to crack its head and the rather dull BW automatic (I’m assuming nobody still wants to shift gears on a taxi by this time).
There’s lots of appeal in the Valiant. Quite compact, and as good a handler as any here. The 170 /6 and TF make for an unbeatable balance of performance and economy. Not as roomy as some, but adequate. A compelling choice.
The Fairlane’s packaging is good, with pretty decent rear leg room in a still fairly tidy wrapper. But its lethargic 170 Falcon six teamed with the two-speed Fordomatic blunts its appeal considerably.
The Chevy II makes for a very pragmatic choice, in terms of rock-bottom low purchase price and operating costs. With the 153 four and PG, it’s not going to be very zippy, but it will be bullet-proof. Yellow Cab of San Diego bought only Chevy IIs through 1966, and ran them hard until they bought a big fleet of full-size 1970 Chevys to replace them. Did customers (or drivers) complain?
Pass. The combination of its size and weight (more than the Chevy) and the 223 six and two-speed Fordomatic makes this slightly more unappealing. I just couldn’t bear to look at that exposed shifter rod all day.
Bingo! The perfect taxi cab, just as it was by far the best car in its class generally. These were years ahead of the competition in terms of packaging efficiency, low weight, handling, and of course the unparalleled performance, economy and reliability of the 225 /6 and TF automatic. It’s no wonder that its B-Body successors became the most popular taxis until they were finally killed some 15 years later.
My first job at age 15 was manning a little two-pump Sunoco gas station on Saturdays. The owner also owned a small cab company; maybe a dozen cabs, all of them ’65 – ’66 Coronets with that drive train, except for one ’67 with the 318 V8, oddly enough. I used to come in to work early so that I could take them out for a bit of a spin, so I guess you could say I was a taxi driver at age 15, without a license. Good thing nobody hailed me! Yes; the V8 made the sixes feel slow in comparison, but with a heavy foot and no traffic on York Road at 6:30 AM on a Saturday, I managed to experience a bit of genuine speed from the sixes too.