Readers of this blog will notice that I feature American cars much more often than anything else, because most old cars in California are domestic. Imports have always been popular here, more so than in most states, but they didn't take over until around the '80s or so. Most of those imports were German or Japanese, and a sizeable number came from the UK. Most cars from the UK are British though, with only a relative few coming from other parts of the Kingdom. Since I haven't yet seen a Northern Ireland-built DeLorean parked on the street, we'll have to settle for something even more unusual and rare, but British-built, a 1959 Beardmore Paramount Mark VII London Taxi.
William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish firm which quite literally built planes, trains and automobiles. They also built ships and motorcycles for a time. They branched out into building cars in Scotland in 1919, and this lasted until 1929 when production moved to London. Beardmore produced both taxicabs and private cars, but the taxi was far more popular with some 6000 built. Production ended in 1967, by which point the body was quite outdated.
Older British cars have always kind of had a quaint, old-fashioned look to them. On the Beardmore that was apparently intentional, as the Ford-based chassis was more modern than the coachwork. It is perhaps one of the earliest known applications of "retro" styling!
Now, some of you may be wondering which parts of this car are stock and which parts are custom. The short answer is, I don't know. The left front door is missing because that's an extra storage area for passengers' luggage. That's stock. The hood (or bonnet, for those of you reading this in the Old Country) appears to be made of leather. Passengers enter and exit through suicide doors and unload luggage through a side-opening trunk lid. I'm guessing that the dual exhaust pipes are custom and the steering wheel is definitely not stock. In all likelihood, the two-tone paintjob is also not an original color combo and the pinstripe work should be a no-brainer. Condition is generally good, with a few screws and bolts in need of re-plating due to rust. Perhaps my favorite detail of this car is the "Licensed to carry 4 persons - Metropolitan Police" placard on the rear.
I'd seen this car a couple of times parked in a carport, but since the owner was now trying to sell his Beardmore, he parked it on the street during a Goodguys car show weekend and I happened to pass by. It's arguably one of the quirkiest vehicles I've had the good fortune to shoot and it's a great addition to California Streets.