A NEW APPROACH IN AN AGE OLD BUSINESS+44 (0) 1926 691 141
When Scotland Yard changed the regulations for taxicabs, motoring legend William Morris took advantage and launched The Morris-Commercial International Taxicab in 1929. Based on the chassis and running gear of the Empire Oxford the new Taxicab retained the 15.9 horsepower engine, four-speed gearbox and overhead worm drive rear axle. The quirks of these new regulations are fascinating and offer the reader a glimpse into the idiosyncrasies of an age where the motor car was still relatively new on British roads. For example, headlights were not normally fitted to the new cabs as it was normal to operate within the city street lamp areas. Taxicabs were not allowed inside rear view mirrors in order to protect the privacy of the rear occupants. The front windscreen has one quarter missing, preventing the glass from misting up in the heavy London smog of the period. In use when both motor and horse-drawn cabs operated the city streets, the regulations stated that all cabs had to carry hay on the running board, usually in a box. Speedometers were not fitted because taxicabs could not go faster than the rest of traffic, which of course, was obeying the speed limits. Regardless, the speedo drive was used to drive the 'Faremeter'. We now come to the unique story of UL 8563, fondly known as Uncle Lima and the only known survivor of a total production run of 840 Morris-Commercial Taxicabs. Built in 1929 with a higher roof line, and known as an Upright Grand, to accommodate the regulations that a gentleman must be able to sit in the back whilst wearing a top hat. The driver, however, had little comfort apart from a small gutter to keep the rain off. The interior boasts many innovations of the time such as an electric speaking tube, a hygienic successor to the voice tube. The rear folding landau-style hood section, was another safety feature, allowing easy escape from a crashed vehicle. The story of Uncle Lima, how it survived various incidents and how it came into the current vendor, Mr. Broughton's possession some forty seven years ago is worthy of a Hollywood screenplay. Found languishing in a barn on Salisbury Plain, it was used as a farm vehicle from 1939 throughout the war by Land Girls who used it for protection from the weather and to return from the fields. On May 8th 1945, two inebriated soldiers from the Black Watch Regiment who were "no longer thirsty" after celebrating VE Day, decided to take it for a spin without permission, and crashed it into a wooden army hut. Uncle Lima was then towed back to the farmer, pending repair and there it remained until being found by Mr. Broughton some twenty odd years later. After some judicious bargaining, the farmer, unsure of its value, conceded it was worth the price of a barren cow and Uncle Lima was bought for a princely £50.00 and loaded onto Mr. Broughton's lorry, complete with stones and scrap metal in the rear compartment. The farmer often collected scrap metal around the Plain to help with the weight when traversing the fields. Once back in Wales and upon closer inspection the scrap metal was found to include two unexploded mortar bombs and an anti-tank rocket. A hasty phone call to the farmer was placed who informed Mr.Broughton that they were duds. Being a cautious man, Mr. Broughton contacted his local police who immediately contacted the SAS Regiment in nearby Brecon who confirmed that far from being 'duds' they were decidedly 'live'. They insisted that the armaments were too dangerous to move and wanted to blow them up whilst still in the back of Uncle Lima. Mr. Broughton saw down the SAS and the bombs were taken out and blown up safely some distance away. A lengthy period of restoration was undertaken and Uncle Lima was returned to good health and made his debut at the 1975 Commercial London to Brighton Run and has since competed in many more rallies.He has also had the distinction of being in numerous Broughton Family wedding albums as their conveyance of choice. Offered today in superb mechanical order, and this consignor can confirm having enjoyed a trip in the rear, that the car performs well in traffic with a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour. Mr. Broughton will also include an operating guide, an incredibly rare copy of the Morris-Commercial International Taxi Cab Handbook and various spares. The prospective purchaser would be advised to make some correction to corrosion showing underneath the paint on the doors in the not too distant future but apart from that the rest of the car is delightfully sound. Ready to use for enjoyment or lucrative filming and promotion opportunities with an incredible story that is as unique as the car.