By Stuart Schwartzapfel
On July 21, Team Taxi will take its place on the starting line of the 2006 Bullrun Rally, an eight-day, invitation-only race across the US. The field is made up of 100 supercars, all driven by celebrities, and the event will be aired in 10 episodes on Spike TV.
This is only the latest leg in the journey of this 2000 Ford Crown Victoria, which started life as a police cruiser. It was transformed into a wild taxi, with 20-inch wheels and a custom wide body for the 2004 movie Taxi (starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon). Then in 2005, it was bought at auction by Zack Kanter and Junus Khan, who souped it up with nearly $40,000 of performance and audio upgrades.
In just five days, JPC Racing of Glen Burnie, MD worked against the clock to complete the car in time for the Saturday morning start in Manhattan's Times Square. Thanks to an ATI Procharger Supercharger pumping out 8 pounds of boost, a Nitrous Oxide System from NOS, and a rebuilt transmission from Reinhart Automotive, the car's power is nearly doubled to 450 HP from stock. Performance rubber mounted beneath Bilstein shocks and custom sway bars and coil springs prevent all that power from launching this yellow cab into outer space. The sprint to 60 mph is achieved in less than 5 seconds (compared to 8.75 pre-upgrade). Cross drilled and slotted brake rotors provide plenty of stopping power for this taxicab.
"The audio system is loud enough to make your ears bleed," says Kanter. Some 2000 watts of sound are fed through three 10' subwoofers built and installed into the cabin by Digital Design Audio and Soundwaves of Parsippany, NJ. The abovementioned audio/visual goodies (including a navigation system) are controlled by a Jensen Multimedia Unit (think BMW iDrive). Up to the minute rally information will be displayed on a Digital Taxi top placed above the roof. According to Kanter, almost everything ordered for the car had to be custom fitted and around 25 companies contributed parts and efforts to make this car a reality.
The Verdict: Try hailing down this cab, and you are likely to lose an arm.
Schwartzapfel, a certified car freak, writes BusinessWeek.com's Concept of the Week column. He has studied the automotive marketplace and worked as an advertising/marketing strategist for major manufacturers. He does not write about any car brands for which he currently works.