|PRICE:||1800 yen SRP|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Part of their Vintage series|
The Austin FX4 is the classic Black Cab. While the majority are black, there is in fact no requirement for them to be black. Over the years, the FX4 has been sold under a range of brands.
The FX4 was the successor to the Austin FX3 produced between 1948 and 1959 and in its own day regarded as the classic British taxi. Like the FX3, the FX4 was designed by Austin in collaboration with Mann and Overton (a taxi dealership) and Carbodies (a coachbuilder). The design team included Albert Moore from Austinís engineering division, Jack Helberg from Carbodies and David Southwell of Mann and Overton. The original design was by Austinís Eric Bailey with the assistance of Carbodies' Jake Donaldson. Little change was necessary to produce the outline of the production vehicle.
Like the FX3, the FX4 had a separate chassis (which was in fact barely changed from the FX3 chassis) with a body stiffened by a divider between the driving and passenger compartments.
The first FX4, registration mark VLW 431, was delivered in July 1958 with an official launch later that year. The last car was quite different in terms of engine and other amenities from the original, with many having been re-engined using Nissan and Land Rover diesel engines and other body makers choosing these engines from the start. The next generation taxi was developed in 1997 and by now, most of the FX4 variants have been superceded.
As you might guess, Aoshima decided not to pay licensing fees to Austin so have simply called this the 'London Black Cab'. While it is true that most of these vehicles were black, one could order it in a variety of colors, including the wine red version shown on the box art.
This is pretty much a semi-curbside and as such there are not a ton of parts to the kit. Molding is quite good with a one-piece body, rubber tires and hoses for the engine compartment. Let me explain this semi-curbside appellation. There is a one-piece engine insert that includes the firewall, inner fenders and the engine. Into this an air filter and radiator are installed. That is pretty much it. Since there is an engine piece, this means an opening bonnet (got to stay British on this). A support is provided for those who want to display the engine. The really lazy could probably just leave the engine area unpainted and cement the bonnet in place.
On the full lower chassis section, one attaches steerable front wheels. Any suspension is molded to the chassis, with much of this section a reminder of the AMT kits from the early 1960s. The interior is well molded with the driver's seat and rear bench molded into the floor section. Decals are provided for the instrument panel, while there is a separate steering wheel and gear shift. No floor pedals are provided. There is the central bulkhead on which fold down seats are shown, but these cannot be folded down. Clear parts are well done and quite extensive. The side windows are all one piece so it may be useful to paint the non-clear parts prior to installation. Chrome is equally well done.
Instructions are in both Japanese and English with the majority of the sheet in Japanese. No overall shade is provided, but you should have little trouble finding one to match photos from the Internet. Any window trim and the lower valence will need to be painted chrome. The small decal sheet provides plates and instruments.
Once again, Aoshima provides us with a model that is somewhat off the beaten track. Those of us who like unusual subjects such as this will be delighted to have it available to us.
Thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the preview kit. Get yours at your local shop or have them order it for you.
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