Across the Globe in a 1935 London Taxi

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How far can a taxi take you? For a couple in the summer of 1955, there was no limit to where a London taxi could land them. Read the story of Alfred and Jakobine, who went on a road trip around the world in a vintage London taxi.

Alfred and Jakobine setting up a tent in Morocco during the first leg of their trip with the vintage taxi. Photos via 1935 Vintage Taxi -- Flickr Photostream by Johnathan Howell

In 1955, a young American anthropologist Alfred Hobbs and his wife, Danish artist Jakobine, had a crazy idea for a summer getaway: to travel around the world in a vintage London taxi. While living in Casablanca, Morocco, the couple chanced upon the vintage 1935 Austin taxi and was completely charmed by it. Soon, the then newly-married couple set out for a honeymoon road trip that would span nearly 5 years and be marked with countless adventures and misadventures.

Vintage newspaper articles on Alfred and Jakobine’s amazing travels, including one in Japanese and Arabic. Photos via 1935 Vintage Taxi -- Flickr Photostream by Johnathan Howell
Alfred and Jakobine in Africa and India. Photos via 1935 Vintage Taxi -- Flickr Photostream by Johnathan Howell

It was a journey that seemed straight out of an adventure novel: they crossed the Sahara desert, probed deep into the African continent, reached India and met the 15-year-old Dalai Lama, and became celebrities of some sort by the time they reached Japan. But, the amazing trip was not without some unfortunate events: they were mistaken for spies and imprisoned in a desert prison, plagued with flat tires, braved typhoons, and faced near-death several times. Their trusty 1935 black London taxi, acquired for $80, bore witness to it all.

Alfred and Jakobine back in the U.S. after their epic road trip. Photos via 1935 Vintage Taxi -- Flickr Photostream by Johnathan Howell

The couple finally returned to the United States with the vintage taxi after their nearly 5-year travel. Jakobine wanted to settle down, but Alfred’s wanderlust was still not quenched. He set out for another adventure, at the expense of their marriage and promising family life. They had a son named Niels, who never really knew his father, but grew up hearing about his parents’ amazing journey with the old London taxi for bedtime stories.

Now, it’s time for their estranged son to tell their story—and make one last trip with the aged London taxi and his father. Alfred sent his son an e-mail, proposing that they resurrect the rusting vintage beauty and drive from New Mexico to New York to find Jakobine and get her to ride their London taxi one last time.

The tale of Alfred and Jakobine’s amazing road trip around the world (and everything that followed after) will be told in an upcoming documentary film entitled Driven. I’m very well looking forward to watching this film (currently in post-production), and I bet so will you! Here’s the trailer:

Inspired by the couple’s taxi tale? Maybe you too can have an interesting taxi adventure of your own. Why not start by shooting taxis around with your Lomographic goodies and join the Lomography x DesignTAXI: Find + Shoot a Taxi Competition!

What do you think of Alfred and Jakobine’s incredible journey with their London taxi? Tell us with a comment below!

Sources and additional readings:
Driven -- The Story
Driven -- Press
Manifold Destiny -- My Life in Second Life on Blogspot
1935 Vintage Taxi -- Flickr Photostream by Johnathan Howell

written by plasticpopsicle on 2011-09-16 in #lifestyle

3 Comments

  1. realisticdreamer
    realisticdreamer ·

    I want an adventure too!

  2. plasticpopsicle
    plasticpopsicle ·

    I find their story really inspiring! How many of us can have an adventure as epic as this?

  3. ashdinosaur
    ashdinosaur ·

    Lets do it

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