Reel To Real: Can New York Cabbies Pimp Their Rides?

'Taxi' says yes, but the experts say no.

The Reel Story

In the New York crime caper “Taxi,” Queen Latifah stars as cab driver Belle, whose pimped-out vehicle and driving services are commandeered by a bumbling detective played by Jimmy Fallon. Since Fallon’s character’s license was taken away, he is at the mercy of the aspiring NASCAR driver and her turbocharged cab while chasing Gisele Bundchen and her gang of catwalk-ready crooks. Early on in the film, Belle’s friends present her with a “titanium super charger” for her cab, which she has been working on — Monster Garage style — for the past five years. With the flip of a switch, Belle’s cab goes from stock to something out of “The Fast and the Furious,” taking one shocked city dweller from Times Square to JFK airport in nine law-breaking minutes. Which begs the question: Can regular New York cabbies pimp their rides?

The Real Story

Cabbies, don’t program Xzibit into your cell phones just yet. To get to the bottom of this, we checked in with Singh, a real-life cab driver in the Big Apple. He laughed and told us point-blank, “No way, that is crazy!” Then he kept on laughing, and we jumped out of the cab pretty quickly.

Wanting a little more information, we called the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission and dug a little deeper. Allan J. Fromberg, spokesperson for the TLC, explained that while Latifah, Fallon, Bundchen and Jennifer Esposito were given honorary hack licenses by TLC commissioner Matthew Daus the night of the film’s premiere, “There was a lot of artistic license taken for a very entertaining effect” in the film.

“There are very specific specifications that must be followed,” Fromberg went on to explain. “There is much chapter and verse that needs to be followed to be within regulation.” Sorry, cabbies: The New York streets are not the place to get in your NASCAR practice. “However,” Fromberg laughed, “we will forgive Queen Latifah just about anything.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “Taxi.”

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