© my mad little family

the joy and delight of william hunter howell.

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I bought the bestest, maddest and most unorthodoxest family car I could buy. A white black cab. Yup.

 

 

 

 

Once upon a time, me and mummy had a baby called Phoebe. She's cool. But what wasn't cool was our car. It was called Bruno. It was a black Renault Clio, the three door version that has a glove compartment for a boot, which turned leaving the house with a push chair (or anything bigger than a butternut squash) into a mad game of Tetris that only mummy could play because I sucked at it. So I thought, you know what, it's time to sail into a new epoch, one where we have a car that is practical for a family of three. One with five doors an some space. 

 

So there I would be trawling through Autotrader and Pistonheads and eBay, looking for things like beige volvo's in the search of being the ultimate dad. But every time I showed mummy a picture of a beige volvo she looked at me and said, 'looks boring', which is hardly a surprising critique of a beige volvo. Then it struck me. I had the ideal car in mind. One that was plenty big enough, affordable and able to please my kookiness (which I blame on being dropped as a child). 

 

So I went onto eBay and bought a white black cab. A proper one. A proper London Taxi from a London cabby. The problem was, I decided not to tell anyone what car I had just spent lots of money on. I didn't even tell mummy. All I told her was, "it's white, and really practical in a really unpractical way." She thought it was a hearse (until I pointed out a white hearse would be inappropriate for anyone that wasn't Michael Jackson. 

 

Anyway, I gave mummy the address and, with Phoebe in the back, we scuttled off toward London town. "Right, right, right, we're almost there," mummy said, as we drove down the street where my new car was awaiting. Mummy still didn't know anything except the colour. "Slow down, slow down, it's the next house... oh fuck, shit, what the shit have you done, Will? Please no, please say you haven't bought a cab. Please, no." Of course, I could only reply with a beaming smile, because yes, yes I had. I'd say mummy was pretty surprised, which I liked. i liked knowing I could still shock her. 

 

I've now had Ziggy for over a year. Yup, I named it Ziggy after David Bowie, because my cab is a white British icon that epitomises cool. It just made sense. But what is it actually like having a cab as your family car. Well, here's a quick review.

 

 

 

 

Space

omg! There's so much space. You could move house with just a cab as your haulage van. Actually, you wouldn't even need a house, you could just live in the cab. For one, there are 6 seats. For two, there is ample floor space, whilst the passenger side (in the cabin) is perfect for shopping and push chairs and travel cots and all sorts, and there's a small boot on top of that. Honestly, I reckon you could fit five people in the back and a shetland pony, easily. 

 

Fuel Economy

this is one of those rare vehicles (like a chevy or a mustang or an DB5) where it is less about miles per gallon and more about smiles per gallon. Okay so this is my diplomatic way of saying a) yes, there are more economical cars out there b) this by no means the thirstiest car either and c) it really does make people smile. I smile constantly while driving my cab. I have other cabbies flag me down and say they like my cab. I have kids wave at me and parents nod and I've pulled up at weddings we've been invited too, deliberately parked next to some tossers electric blue Porsche and then been told that my mad little family is the coolest family in the world (that was my cousins wedding, and the tosser is an old friend of mine, or was, I'm not sure how he'll feel after being called a tosser, twice).

 

Speed

Utterly non existent. Except off the line. I'll be at the lights and, due to the rad automatic transmission, I'll get the fastest start. It just so happens everyone will pass me 3 metres later. She chugs slowly. But why would you want to go fast; people can't look and stare in total wonder and awe when you go fast. Also, why would you want to risk going fast with a small one on board. To give you numbers, Ziggy is comfortable up to 50mph. She will get to 70mph. Ziggy is a dream in cities (and economical at lower speeds too because, well, Ziggy was made to drive around London at low speeds all day everyday).

 

Reliability

I've had some problems. This is probably because I took my cab to a non-specialised cab garage, which in hindsight was like taking my daughter to see a first-year veterinary student instead of an experienced brain surgeon. I've had a new battery, new terminals, my heaters are a bit dodgy and I've had a new pipe for something I don't know much about but it was to do with air leaking out through a hole and thus not allowing my car to start. Oh and my exhaust dropped off once. But other than that, she's a beauty. I mean, she's 19 years old. She's also done 165,000 miles. And that's the best bit. Ziggy has done 165,000 miles and she is still young in cab terms. They tend to rock and roll for between 450,000 and 700,000 miles. Good job engine, which is called a Nissan Bulletproof (probs the coolest name ever).

 

 

Cost

I'm not going to beat around with this one. I got car, tax and insurance for £1600. That's a lot of car for very little money. Tax is a lot. Sure. But insurance is cheap because it comes under classic car insurance. Fuel is diesel which has its cons and pros and it costs about £40 to fill it from sparse to overflowing. 

 

Epicness 

Phoebe loves it. It's like a playground for her. It has flip seats. And a blue furry rug. And all the yellow bits (like the handles and stuff) have been painted her favourite blue. And she can see out of the window because she rides so high. And people wave at her and she waves at people. And if she's asleep in her push chair we just wheel it straight in. And we've had picnics in there and travel across the country in it. I love it. I have threatened to get rid of Ziggy every time something goes wrong, but the moment those coils warm up and she turns over and roars once more, oh man, I hate myself for even thinking of getting another car. I love Ziggy. I love that cab to bits. And I probably always will, no matter how much goes wrong or how long it takes me to get anywhere. 

 

 

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