New York City’s taxi fleet has always included a number of makes, but two cars dominated the 20th century: the Checker Cab that lasted from the 1920s to the 1970s, followed by the Ford Crown Victoria that picked up from the Checker and remained a Big Apple icon until after 2010. Ford produced the last Crown Victoria in September 2011, a 2012-model-year sedan. NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) rules dictate a cab can’t be more than seven years old, so 2019 should have seen the last Crown Vic cab roll down a Manhattan Street. The New York Times has a story on two Crown Victorias still making the rounds, having dodged their appointments with the axe man: Ravinder Sharma bought his 2011 Crown Vic in 2012 and has put more than 550,000 miles on it, Haroon Abdullah bought his Crown Vic in 2013 and covered 491,000 miles.
Both men love their cars despite the thirst of the 4.6-liter V8; when asked about fuel economy, Sharma gave the NYT an answer that belongs on a T-shirt: “I don’t think about the gas. I’m 64. I raised my children. I just drive.” Both men took advantage of the TLC’s grace period to run old cabs during Covid. Both men have kept their taxis registered with the state authorities that oversee all vehicles in New York, but both have gone on the lam, relatively speaking, from the required TLC inspections for the taxi fleet. If they showed up for the TLC test, the commission would confiscate their meters and levy fines. Both men have the same reason for continuing to drive their contraband cars: Financial hardship. And both men have been summoned for administrative hearings at the TLC to explain their actions, and, likely, have their taxi meters shut down and pay fines.
Those hearings don’t need to rob the Crown Vic of the ending it could have had, though. Before the TLC made the seven-year rule, the last Checker Cab quit doing NYC taxi work in 1999 at 21 years old. The owner, Earl Johnson, spent his final day on the job giving rides to journalists who wanted the story. And since the press wasn’t paying fares, he wasn’t a taxi that day. There’s no reason Sharma and Abdullah couldn’t make a little change to pay those fines by offering tours in their two yellow dinosaurs, perhaps. Head over to the NYT for the whole story about the end of the road.