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until 3 February 1992
|Fate||in liquidation since 2013|
|Founder||Robert 'Bobby' Jones|
|Defunct||in liquidation since 2013|
|Headquarters||Coventry, United Kingdom|
LTI Limited trading as The London Taxi Company was a British taxicab design and manufacturing company based in Coventry, United Kingdom. It had formerly been trading as London Taxis International, and formerly named Carbodies Limited. The company was owned by Manganese Bronze Holdings until they went into liquidation in 2013.
Carbodies owned a coachbuilding business operating from Holyhead Road, Coventry. After half a century making short runs of limited demand bodies for major manufacturers it was obliged to replace these now moribund activities and in 1971 took from its former customer and supplier of taxi chassis, Austin, the manufacture of complete London taxicabs. Two years later Carbodies was bought by Manganese Bronze Holdings. In 1992 Carbodies Limited changed its name to LTI Limited.
LTI Limited used the trading name London Taxis International (switched in 2010 to The London Taxi Company) for its business which in spite of finding some export markets failed during 2010. The assets of LTI limited were bought by Geely to create what is now the London EV Company.
The business began in 1919, when Robert 'Bobby' Jones, a former general manager at coachbuilder Hollick and Pratt took over the coachbuilding operations of his then employer, timber merchants Gooderhams and set up in business in premises acquired from Thomas Pass in West Orchard, Coventry.
Rather than make bespoke bodies to individual designs, Carbodies set out to produce coachwork to a number of standardised designs for car companies that did not have their own coachbuilding facilities. Their first major customers during the 1920s were MG and Alvis Cars. The scale of a new contract to build bodies for the MG M-Type Midget meant that they needed larger premises and in 1928, they moved to a larger site on Holyhead Road, where they remain to this day. In the 1930s, they supplied bodies for Rover, Invicta and Railton, but by far their biggest and most important customer in that decade was the Rootes Group.
During World War II the company made bodies for military vehicles. They also acquired press tools through the Lend-Lease scheme, which enabled them to make aircraft components. Carbodies also became a limited company at this time, with Bobby Jones as governing director and his son, Ernest Jones managing director.
After the war Carbodies negotiated with London taxi dealer Mann & Overton and Austin to make bodies for the Austin FX3 taxi, introduced in 1948, as well as finishing and delivering the complete vehicles. More than 7,000 FX3s, mainly destined for London, were produced over 10 years. They also developed a system for turning modern all-steel saloon cars into convertibles. This work was carried out on the early unit construction Hillman Minx, the Austin Somerset and Hereford, the Ford Mk1 Consul and Zephyr and, later the Mk2 Ford Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac.
In 1954, Bobby Jones sold Carbodies to the BSA group, who put it under the control of their prestige car company, Daimler. Although it was intended for Carbodies to become the manufacturing plant for Daimler steel bodies, this was never fulfilled. They did, however convert the Conquest saloon into a drophead, using the same methods they used on Fords and Austin and also made a drophead coupe body for the Daimler Conquest Roadster and made bodies for the Daimler Majestic and Majestic Major saloons.
Under BSA, manufacturing facilities were extended and more plant installed. In 1958, Carbodies began manufacturing the body and carrying out the assembly, finishing and delivery of the most important vehicle in their history, the Austin FX4 taxi. Carbodies also supplied prototype bodies and tooling, projects including the Jaguar E-type bonnet and panels for Triumph, Ariel and BSA motorcycles and scooters.
Further contracts undertaken during the 1960s and early 1970s were the conversion of Humber Hawk and Super Snipe, Singer Vogue and Triumph 2000 saloons into estate cars, but gradually, as contract work on private cars and commercial vehicles fell away, the FX4 taxi would become more important for the company.
In 1971 Carbodies bought the FX4 chassis assembly line from British Leyland's Adderley Park, Birmingham factory and moved it to Coventry, making them complete manufacturers of the FX4, in actuality if not in name.
In 1973, Carbodies was bought, along with parent company BSA, by Manganese Bronze Holdings. In the 1970s, Carbodies tried to make a new taxi of their own, the FX5, but it was abandoned in 1979 because the development costs were too high.
1982 saw Carbodies take responsibility for the complete manufacture of the FX4 taxicab, when British Leyland had finally lost interest in it. By this time, the FX4 was the company's only product, despite attempts to introduce new lines, such as a Ford Cortina MkV convertible and the Range Rover Unitruck. A new model of taxi, the CR6, based on a Range Rover bodyshell was abandoned after almost five years of development. In 1984, the London taxicab dealer Mann & Overton was bought by Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc. Pending the development of a new model, the FX4 was further developed and became the LTI Fairway.
In 1992 the company was renamed LTI Limited, comprising three divisions: LTI Carbodies, LTI Mann and Overton and London Taxi Finance. The trading name was London Taxis International.
In 1997, a new model of taxicab, the TX1 was introduced as a successor to the FX4. Further development resulted in the launch in 2002 of the TXII, powered by a Ford Dura Torq 2.4-litre diesel engine and featuring an integral fold-down ramp for wheelchair users. It also has an intermediate step and swivel-out seat for passengers with moderate walking difficulties. For people with hearing problems it has an induction loop incorporated in the intercom system.
In 2007 the TXII was replaced by the TX4. This series established LTI Vehicles as a worldwide supplier of London-type taxis.
In Nov 2010 the company was re-branded to The London Taxi Company. In recent times The London Taxi Company set up a partnership with Chinese car maker Geely Automotive, building a factory in Shanghai to manufacture London taxis for the export market and to supply components to the home factory in Coventry. In 2010 the name Mann & Overton was dropped.
LTI's parent company, Manganese Bronze Holdings, had been in financial difficulties in the early 2000s.. It had partnered with the Chinese automaker Geely.
In October 2012, following a suspension of sales due to the discovery of a serious flaw with vehicle steering components, the company went into administration. The quite recently specified faulty steering components had been sourced from Geely supplier, Gang Yang in China.
The end came in late 2012 when Manganese Bronze placed the company in administration. Company number 00382553 Carbodies Limited (from 3 February 1992 named LTI Limited) changed its name to COVT (Realisations) Limited on 7 February 2013 and, with Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc, was liquidated as of 30 October 2013.
Part of the business —but not the company— was rescued by its Chinese customer, supplier and partner, Geely, who created a new taxicab manufacturing business, The London Taxi Corporation (company number 08357576) trading as the London Taxi Company, using assets acquired from the Manganese Bronze liquidation. The new company, renamed to London EV Company Limited in September 2017 and then trading as London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), develops electric commercial vehicles at a new plant near Coventry, the first into production being an electric taxicab - the LEVC TX.
They provided most bodies for the separate chassis cars
Ford Zephyr convertible
Ford Consul convertible
Ford Consul MkII convertible
Ford Zephyr MkII convertible
Alvis TA 14 drophead coupé
Austin Somerset drophead coupé
Triumph 2000 Estate
Singer Vogue Estate
Humber Hawk Estate
Humber Super Snipe Estate
Daimler Conquest drophead coupé
Austin FX4 1962
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