Monday 6th March 1961
Mini cabs were introduced by Carline in the City of London. Carline exploited a loophole in the 1869 Carriage Act, claiming that this only applied to cabs that “ply for hire” on the streets whereas their Anglias would operate by responding to calls phoned to the main office and then relayed to the driver. In their first week of operation the 12-strong Ford Anglia 105E’s fleet carried 500 passengers. Carline’s fares were two thirds of those of the black cabs and drivers promised greater service to London’s outer suburbs, where there was barely any provision for a licensed taxi “door-to-door” service. As a taxi, the Anglia was limited by having only two doors and so the main threat to the black cab took the form of a pair of imported minicabs that entered service that summer. Tom Sylvester ordered 25 black and white-liveried Fiat Multiplas, a four-door, long-wheelbase version of the famed 600 that had already established itself in Rome – despite being well under 14 feet long it was a genuine six-seater – but it was the fleet of Renault Dauphines run by the car rental firm Welbeck Motors that became the public face of the minicab. Welbeck’s managing director was an exceptionally publicity-conscious young law graduate named Michael Gotla. The media ran features about Gotla’s “£560,000 order” for 800 bright red Dauphine minicabs and how he planned to sell advertising space on the Renaults’ doors to garner an extra £75 per week. Such was the Welbeck minicab’s fame that there was even a Dinky model of the company’s Dauphine plus considerable press support. “The reaction of the hard-done-by travelling public to the coming of minicabs is – the more the merrier,” claimed The Times.