Transportation, Featured Content

The Typical Taxi Drivers of Buenos Aires

Jed Rothenberg

By | June 1, 2011 | 3 comments

The different types of taxis and drivers you are bound to come upon in Buenos Aires. From the fast and the furious to the wise and knowledgeable.


Name: Mr. Clean a.k.a. Mr. Musclo a.k.a. NO SMOKING!
Driving Style: His driving style will match his main notable factor, cleanliness. Mildly defensive driver mixed with decisive aggressive driving.
Skillz: 8.5 out of 10. Efficient, precise the Mr. Clean driver takes a great amount of pride in his unnoticed gear shifts and smooth turns.
Safety: 9 out of 10. Consistent speeds, direct routes (sometimes accompanied with a GPS).
General Description: With a cab driver that has a similar mentality to a Japanese janitor, his car and his job make up a good portion of his life focus pie chart. He’s paying a great deal of attention to anything and everything. Plus, it is highly likely that he owns the car. Honest, honorable- the Mr. Clean cab is the boy scout of the Buenos Aires’ roadways.
Bonus: He may have several signs or notifications for you such as “No Smoking”, “No Eating”, “No Drinking”, “Don’t put your knees in the back of my seat”…

buenos aires taxi racer

Name: Juan Manuel Fangio a.k.a. Racer X
Driving Style: Erratic, similar to a Go-Kart track (Accelerator has 2 positions, nothing or touching the floor board)
Skillz: 9.5 out of 10, these guys are the fastest in the pack…always. You’ll feel like your in “Fast and the Furious”.
Safety: 1 out of 10. If you do not suffer a heart attack your ankle will be cramped from jamming it into the imaginary brake.
General Description: The only thing that slows these guys down are the cars that happen to be in front of them- God save you if it opens up too much. If there is a hole in the traffic they are fitting through it. If you are in any sort of rush this is absolutely the best driver you could ask for. Any other scenario and this driver will cause high blood pressure, mild motion sickness and stress related rashes.

On a safety note, if you want a safe, bilingual driver we have a few that make regular trips to and from the airports.

Name: Saint Taxi or The Collector
Driving Style: Average, slightly spacey
Skillz: 4 out of 10
Safety: 6 out of 10. Due to the spacey nature the saints have a tendency to drive a bit more defensively allowing the Fangio taxis and motorcycles to zip around them like mobile obstacles.
General Description: There is one certainty with Saint Taxi, that he will make the Catholic cross gesture passing every church in town. The taxi displays a collection of pictures and stuffed animals pasted to the dashboard, rosaries dangling from the rear-view mirror and on rare occasions a tasseled trim to the interior.

taxi scams in argentina

Name: Slim Shady a.k.a. The Villain
Driving Style: A toned down version of the Fangio, the Slim Shadies are too busy planning their subtle theft of your pesos.
Skillz: 8.5 out of 10. To make a concerted effort into distracting you all while maneuvering through the streets of Buenos Aires takes multitasking skills.
Safety: 4 out of 10. Their lack of safety often plays a part in their various scams.
General Description: There always has to be one bad apple in the bunch. These assholes are the ones that give taxi drivers in Buenos Aires a bad name. They have a variety of scams, read up and recognize them before they happen!

Name: Old School Tanguero a.k.a. The Veteran
Driving Style: Slow and steady wins the race + tango, classical or folklore music.
Skillz: out of 10 These guys have seen and done all.
Safety: 7 out of 10. No surprises for him, although his vision is starting to go at night.
General Description: He’s been on these streets through the military dictatorship, he’s watched Puerto Madero go from rat infested dump to international playground. He’s seen the streets change direction 5 times over, gain and lose bus routes, street trollies- he’s a true Buenos Aires veteran. Do not ask him about the old days or anything political.

Name: Bad Luck Charm a.k.a. I hate my job.
Driving Style: Moderately aggressive, everyone else on the streets are terrible drivers except for him.
Skillz: 3 out of 10 although his ego states otherwise.
Safety: 5 out of 10, only because he’s expecting everyone else to make a mistake. Oh the irony. He is the equivalent of a poker player on tilt.
General Description: Easily identified by his running commentary, the Bad Luck Charm will express all sorts of great Argentinean slang (lunfardo) gems or insults. “Boludo”! Que estas haciendo…la concha del mono!” Buckle up and prepare yourself for those “daddy is yelling at mommy” feelings to surface. Everything goes wrong for this guy including a possible fender bender.

Name: Pimp My Taxi a.k.a. Powdered Sugar Nose?
Driving Style: Pulsating between break-neck and snail race, the Pimp My Taxi’s weekend indulgences are questionable. Fortunately you are only likely to cross paths with him if you are taking a cab from a club or happening bar at 5:30 am. Plus your sobriety will be questionable as well.
Skillz: ? out of 10
Safety: ? out of 10
General Description: Greasy clean floor mats, minimum of one black light, a stereo and speaker system that out values the car itself- you’ll feel like you never left the club! Don’t worry, like a cobra to the charmer’s flute, the electronica techno or cumbia will entrance you into his taxi-hypnosis.

smart buenos aires taxis

Name: The Amateur Rocket Scientist a.k.a. Neurosurgeon
Driving Style: Good all around maneuvers and awareness.
Skillz: 8 out of 10 Books, knowledge, intelligence are his strengths which can be applied to driving the chaotic streets of Buenos Aires.
Safety: 8 out of 10 He will occasionally make eye contact, coupled with a hand gesture or two to drive his point home.
Bonus: You will learn something.
General Description: The first question on your mind after 2 minutes in this cab is “why is this guy a cab driver?” Whether it be political discourse, casual chatter about the Pacific markets vs the strengthening NASDAQ, theories of why Evo Morales is hurtful to the Bolivian image…this guy is sharp.

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  1. Kristin

    01/06/2011 - 4:02 pm

    My personal fave: the tanguero! This taxista is so proud of his city, that he’ll teach even an expert something they didn’t know about Buenos Aires. Who knows if what he says is true, but who cares. Personal tour guide for the full 10 minute journey is well worth the cab fare.

    Excellent post you guys! Kickin’ it old school. Love. It.

  2. Jenny

    24/06/2011 - 1:44 pm

    Haha! Good article. I have definitely experiences all of these. I´d like to add to the scammers one the “complacent” guy that waits to see if you notice whether he has given you back the appropriate change or not and tries to distract you with conversation.

    1. webmaster

      24/06/2011 - 2:35 pm

      Haha! Ah yes, “Meek Distraction” driver guy. Also found in kiosks around town near bars and clubs.