Taxi in Morocco.

As the models continue to grow older, the Ford Crown Victoria is slowly but surely disappearing from US cities as the prevailing taxicab. The same thing is happening in Morocco with its huge fleet of Mercedes-Benz W123-chassis taxis thanks to a little help from the government. The authorities cite safety and environmental reasons for the decades-old sedans to be removed from the road in a cash-for-clunkers-style program slated to start by the end of the year.

According to Ran When Parked, there are about 55,000 W123 taxis operating in Morocco. The body style was built throughout the '70s and '80s with a variety of gasoline and diesel engines, and they earned a reputation for doing high miles with great reliability. The cab drivers like them because they can cram several people in and still fit on the crowded streets. To stop the stream of old Mercedes cabs, the country's government made it quite expensive to import vehicles more than five years old.

In addition to improving air quality, the cash-for-clunkers program might stimulate local business. Renault and Dacia operate a factory in Tangier, Morocco, that builds some vans, including the Dacia Dokker. Ran When Parked claims the authorities would give drivers about 50,000 Dirhams ($6,100) to trade in their cars, and Renault would provide an additional 10,000 Dirhams ($1,200) to switch to one of its vehicles. Maybe it's finally time for the W123 to pass the torch...