Caught in traffic in New York's Times Square, Paul Archer watched the taxi meter climb to more than $100,000.
The tangle of cars and cabs and pushcarts was undaunting. "We've seen worse," says the 25-year-old from Gloucester, U.K.
Over the past 13 months, Mr. Archer and two college buddies, Leigh Purnell, 24, and Johno Ellison, 28, have traveled more than 32,000 miles around the globe from London to New York, and points beyond, in a 1992 LTI 2.7 liter diesel FX4TK, better known as a London Black Cab—which they've christened Hannah.
As many cabbies do, they've taken the scenic route.
Since leaving the U.K. in February last year, the team has plowed into a snow bank inside the Arctic Circle in Finland, dinged a fender on a lamppost in Dunhuang, China, blown the radiator at an Iraqi border crossing, dodged the Taliban, and ran afoul of police officers, military personnel and armed mercenaries from Moscow to Tehran to Texas.
They were also forced to take a thousand-mile detour around much of the Middle East during the height of the Arab Spring—avoiding Libya, Egypt and Syria for a "safer route" through Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, as Mr. Archer puts it.
So far, the team hasn't had a serious accident. Along the way, they've picked up countless fares, though none were actually charged for the ride.
"We're licensed to drive a cab in the U.K. but wouldn't want to get into trouble with any local cabdrivers," says Mr. Archer, a business school graduate whose goal was to set a new world's record for the longest taxi ride, while raising cash for the British Red Cross, mostly through corporate sponsorships.
The previous record was a 21,691-mile, four-month taxi ride from London to Cape Town, South Africa, and back, set in 1994 by Jeremy Levine and Mark Aylett, of the U.K., and Carlos Arrese of Spain, according to a spokesman for Guinness World Records Ltd. The trip ran the meter up to $64,645.