Driving passengers to the outer limits of their imagination

For 25 years, life has been a cabaret for Aspen's Ultimate Taxi

By Real Aspen
Real AspenDecember 18, 2012
Inside The Ultimate Taxi with Jon Barnes.
Photo courtesy of Jon Barnes & The Ultimate Taxi
The Ultimate Taxi
Cruising around in a perversely flamboyant taxicab isn’t just another Aspen gimmick. For Jon Barnes, the cabby behind the wheel of the 1978 Checker Cab transformed into a world renowned mobile entertainment palace, it’s a way of life.

The brain-child of former cabbie turned entertainer Jon Barnes, The Ultimate Taxi, a cross between Bill Gates’ home office, the Starship Enterprise and a Beatles concert, is billed as “the only music studio, theater, nightclub, planetarium, toy store, internet connected taxicab on the planet.”

Barnes plays multiple musical instruments, performs illusions, operates a virtual rollercoaster ride, mixes the taxi’s music and sound effects, and operates the psychedelic lighting, while driving with whatever body part is still available.

Want a Pink Floyd concert complete with lasers and fog effects? The Ultimate Taxi delivers. Want immortality? Well, The Ultimate Taxi provides it, at least in the sense that your photograph will always reside at www.ultimatetaxi.com.

It all began in the 1980s, as a way for Barnes to have fun with passengers by incorporating musical synthesizers and high tech lighting into the ride. And as technology evolved, so did the Ultimate Taxi, becoming the World’s first internet connected taxi, in early 1996, transporting passengers to his website via a webcam/computer/ cellphone modem setup.

The latest addition to the cab is a multi-beam, multi-color 3D laser light show synchronized to music and controlled by what Barnes calls a self-engineered “Photon Trumpet.”

Other new additions include a Panasonic HD video camera, the HTC Droid DNA smartphone, a Mackie audio mixing board, a mirror ball motor, 900 LED lights that pulse and change color to the music, and a new alternator.

“I didn’t build this contraption to make a lot of money,” Barnes says,” I just wanted the taxi to get the most smiles per gallon.”

Barnes, for his part, keeps it philosophical when answering questions about the service he provides.

“If you’re in a hurry to get somewhere in The Ultimate Taxi, you’ve missed the point of the experience, because life’s not about the destination … it’s the ride.”


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