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For many decades, the ubiquitous black cab has been two a penny on the capital’s streets. But an example of a 1935 12/4 Austin Taxi, coming to auction in November, took up duties far removed from the commonplace cab trade, becoming the exclusive guest transport of the world’s first luxury boutique hotel, Blakes, in London’s South Kensington.
Offered at no reserve by classic car auctioneer, Historics at Brooklands, in Surrey on Saturday, November 30th, the 78-year old classic represents a very rare opportunity to acquire a unique vehicle with an immensely rich history and heritage.
Plucked from its more humble street life in the 70’s by the hotel’s creator - film star and actress turned hotelier and interior designer - Anouska Hempel (now Lady Weinberg) - the 1935 Austin Taxi Low Loading became the exclusive hotel transport soon after its opening, for Blakes’s many famous guests including Ali McGraw, Neil Diamond, Robert Redford, Bob Dylan and Jane Russell.
Lady Weinberg - who has retained ownership of the taxi since it was retired from its celebrity transport role - has revealed that Blakes’ guests were welcomed to have use of it all day to take them anywhere within and around London whilst staying at the hotel.
Unlike the blue/black livery of the standard 12/4 Austin Taxi of the day, this example is resplendent in dark green coachwork, reflecting the colour of Blakes Hotel. The luxuriously-appointed interior is in exceptional condition with excellent seat coverings, aluminium low loader area for luggage and a landaulette hood in good order and fully functional.
The vehicle also including exemplary finishing touches such as a woven silk passenger hand-hold. A further nod to its heritage comes by way of an orange illuminated ‘BLAKES’ sign on the roof-mounted taxi lamp in place of the normal ‘TAXI’ symbol.
The vehicle is powered by a 1.8litre, four-cylinder engine, whilst the specification includes a sliding privacy window, Bell Punch (London Model) taximeter, fare table, drop down seats, roof luggage rack, electric windscreen wipers, and stately Lucas 'King of the Road' lamps.
For more than a decade, the taxi has rested in the elegant surroundings of a coach house on Lady Weinberg's estate. Requiring only gentle re-commissioning, the vehicle is expected by Historics to attract vigorous bidding in view of its unique appeal and the fact that it is offered at no reserve.
The 12/4 Austin Taxicab will be auctioned alongside some 100 other fine classic motor cars and a fascinating array of automobilia at Historics at Brooklands winter auction venue, Mercedes-Benz World, near Weybridge, Surrey on Saturday 30th November, from 10.00am, with viewing on the previous day.
For more information and the latest consignment list, visit www.historics.co.uk, or call 01753 639170 and e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.