For several years, the Mumbai streets have been dotted with ‘kaali-peeli’, a slang for the dual-tone black-yellow Premier Padmini taxis that can be found in abundance in the city
Think Mumbai traffic and chances are you would be thinking of old, beaten Padmini Premier taxis that can be found in abundance everywhere. Commonly known as ‘kaali-peeli’ for their dual-tone black-yellow paint job, these taxis have been a part of the Mumbai road culture for several decades now. However, it is finally time to say goodbye to these vehicles as they will be scrapped in the coming days.
While Padmini Premier isn’t the first taxi to have been used in Mumbai, it’s definitely the most iconic one ever. Before the Premier, Mumbai used to have various other models in the taxi trade, such as the Fiat Millecento, Elegant and Select in the 1950s and Super Select and Fiat 1100 Delight in the 1960s. In fact, even the Austins, Hillman Minx Mark III, Ford Prefect, Standard Super Ten, Chevrolet Fleetmaster and Plymouth P-10s were used as taxis in Mumbai.
However, in 1972, these old cars had to make way for the Premier President, which was quick to be followed by the Premier Padmini in 1974. The original Padmini was replaced by the Premier 137 D model in 1994. The Padmini turned out to be a huge success owing to its robust build quality, easy maintenance and spacious cabin.
Many taxi owners even decided to enhance the fuel efficiency of their vehicles by replacing the original motor with used Japanese engines and even diesel engines. However, usage of these old engines meant that these taxis turned out to be quite bad for the environment. This, in turn, led the Bombay High Court to issue an order to scrap all the “end of life” commercial vehicles.
In the recent years, we have even seen the last generation Hyundai Santro replacing some of the Padmini Premiers in the taxi market but from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like any modern car will be ever able to make a place in the heart of Mumbaikars the way the Premier could.