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Pop on over to Piccadilly Circus
Or at least use your imagination, in this English cab.
Surely it shuttled tourists from Big Ben to Piccadilly Circus.
But it also could have hosted more colorful clientele. Along the blustery banks of the Thames, Mick Jagger might have howled through its window at the Tower Bridge. Or a young Prince William might have joined his brother for a ride through the country, in a backseat big enough to fit all five Spice Girls and a Beckham to boot.
Other than all over the streets of London, Sean Fraga cant be sure where his familys 1973 Austin FX-4 taxi-cab has been. And that, he said, is all part of the fun.
Unfortunately we cant track this particular cab to see if the queen ever rode in it, he joked from the drivers seat, which is, of course, on the right side of the car.
For 26 years the Fragas cab plied the streets of London. It was retired in 1999 and bought by the family four years ago. Shipped west via container ship, it has since been rumbling around the roads of Bainbridge.
Its a great summer car, Sean said. You cant blast any tunes because theres no radio, but you can get a good breeze going if you roll down the windows.
So Sean, a Bainbridge High School graduate home for the summer after his freshman year at Yale University, wants to take islanders cruising.
Hes offering chauffeur service for point-to-point transportation, narrated sightseeing or historical tours and shuttle service for off-site event parking.
Rides can be booked by the hour or half-hour by calling (206) 295-0823 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cab seats up to six passengers, but Fraga said its most comfortable with four or five. Flowers, food and even dogs are welcome to come along for the ride.
The service is available on nights and weekends and during the day on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when Fraga isnt in Seattle serving an internship.
So far business has been good, he said. He did a shuttle service for a recent Bainbridge Performing Arts-sponsored event, and has a deal with a local guest house to take passengers to and from the ferry terminal.
He sees the venture as more of a novelty chauffeur service than a taxi service, but he isnt restricting himself to any one niche. Hes willing to dress for any occasion, and even promises to affect a British accent at his passengers request.
Id really love to do a wedding, he said. Get some flowers in this thing.
The cab runs on diesel and has an automatic transition. Aside from upgraded seatbelts required to meet safety standards the cab is nearly in original condition.
Perfectly intact in its roomy backseat are advertisements, affixed to the bottom of two pull-down seats, and a fare chart from the cabs last year in service (for the record, the minimum cab charge in 1999 was 1.40 British pounds).
Because the odometer is permanently frozen at 57,000 miles (or is it kilometers?), Sean doesnt know for sure how far the cab has traveled.
Im assuming its either 157,000 or 257,000, he said.
Calling it a workhorse, he said the car still runs well, though not without the occasional rattling at speeds above 55 miles per hour.
Its an old car, he shrugged. Its perfect for when you dont need to be somewhere in a hurry.
Rattling aside, the cabs interior remains perfectly tidy, in accordance with its British roots.
So far Seans most effective advertising tool is taking the cab for a spin downtown. He often parks in front of Gallery Fraga, which is owned by his parents, and leaves a business card on the dashboard.
This car just attracts attention, he said, as right on cue two curious onlookers surveyed his ride.
Still, to promote his service, Fraga printed a brochure and business cards. His hope is to keep busy for the summer before he heads back east for school in August.
After that, the car will return to relative obscurity, but not before a few islanders get to sample a small piece of British culture.
I just get this feeling that Im going to be sitting in class in September and October getting calls on my cell phone from people needing rides, he said.