I was crossing 14th Street and 3rd Ave last night. The crosswalk signal was blinking and I needed to get to the sidewalk to safely hail a cab. While in the crosswalk, a unique taxi caught my eye. Unlike other cabs, it had an aggressive stance, wide tires, and thick black rims in contrast to its yellowish-orange exterior. I immediately ran to it, got in, took a seat on the surprisingly soft vinyl, and said to the driver, “this is the nicest cab I’ve ever seen.” He laughed, I told him my destination, and we talked about the car. He explained it was a Police Interceptor (PI), one of 3 in his fleet. When he stepped on the gas, the vehicle moved with force. This was no 4 cylinder Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, two very common taxis in New York City. Unlike the CVT transmission in the Altima that maximizes fuel economy, shift points in the 6-speed Ford PI are programmed to maximize acceleration.
When the PI hit bumps on 3rd Ave I felt them, and was ok with that. Unlike the smooth-riding, family-hauling Camry, the suspension in the PI is heavy duty and custom built for chases. The car not only drove solid, it felt safe. Unlike an economy car, the rear doors were thick. I got the sensation there was real distance between the outside world and the interior.
When I got to my apartment, I wished the driver a safe night. He smiled and said, “thanks buddy.” I should have said, “have fun tearing up the streets.” No offense to the Camry or Altima, but they are the babies of the NYC taxi fleet, and the big, bad Police Interceptor is their daddy. It’s the coolest taxi of all time.
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