High End Vintage London Taxi gets Electric Air Conditioning

One of the best things about our electric air conditioning is how versatile it is, having been fitted in a litany of vehicles since launch, including everything from Porsche 911s and Alfa 105s to Aston Martins, Ferraris, VW campervans and classic Minis.

The most recent car to receive our kit is this newly-EV'ed 1960 Austin FX4 Sedanca Brougham owned by the Hyde Park Hotel, which now has two Classic retrofit electric air conditioning systems fitted, for front and rear passengers.

This striking coachbuilt London taxi was commissioned by Nubar Gulbenkian in 1960. A wealthy Armenian born in Turkey in 1896, Gulbenkian enjoyed a lavish lifestyle of women, gambling and oil trading. Son of an oil baron, he became an admirer of English culture after receiving his education at Harrow and Cambridge.

One of the world's wealthiest men and largely through his own enterprise, despite growing up in such privileged circumstances, Gulbenkian was an industrialist, philanthropist, bon vivant, oil tycoon, socialite and commercial attache to the Iranian Embassy from 1926 until the mid-1950s. A citizen of Iran, turkey and the UK, he wore a monocle with aplomb, and a fresh orchid every day.

Nubar was often featured in the popular press and cultivated his eccentric image, portraying himself as an English gentleman, complete with his iconic monocle. Despite not driving himself until the age of 65, Nubar loved fast and expensive cars and often ordered Rolls-Royces from Jack Barclay's Mayfair showroom, located near his London residence at The Ritz Hotel.

His bespoke Hooper Rolls-Royces had avant-garde designs, including 'The Pantechnicon' built on a Silver Wraith chassis, and another Wraith with perspex roof for use in the south of France. He later decided to use an Austin FX4 Taxi in London for its manoeuvrability. Through Jack Barclays, he commissioned Battersea bespoke coachbuilders FML Panelcraft to construct coachwork to his own individual design.

His American friend, Paul Mellon, who shared Nubar's love for racehorses and stayed at The Ritz Hotel, saw Nubar's taxi and wanted to buy it. Nubar declined but offered to have another one made for him.

Car number two was built with left-hand drive and a Ford six-cylinder engine. It kept the extravagant style and flamboyance of Nubar's own car, with only minor differences in detail, such as the stacked headlamps. After completion, the car was taken to the USA, where it remained until selling through Bonhams in 2014.

The indicated mileage of 15k at sale may well be correct. The vehicle remains extremely well presented and is a previous concours d'elegance winner. It now presents in Green with 'wickerwork' panelling to the rear Brougham section, which is upholstered in grey cloth with grey carpets. Courtesy steps either side allow easy access and silk door pulls, courtesy lights and vanity units complete the opulent brougham interior.

The Sedanca top above the chauffeur may be presented in open or closed positions. The brass studded, rear-mounted trunk enhances the visual extravaganza as do the side-mounted opera lamps, while the sharp rear styling of the Brougham coachwork affords privacy to the rear occupants. Whitewall tyres reflect an American influence.

Since being purchased by the Peninsula Hotel Group for use as chauffeur-driven London transport by wealthy guests, Gulbenkian's taxi has been converted to EV by London Electric Cars, with most parts being upcycled from a Nissan Leaf. We are delighted to be part of this eye-catching project!