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The black and yellow Premier Padmini taxis have been an integral part of the city of Mumbai since 1974, and have offered a livelihood to many thousands of migrant workers for over four decades.
It is, however, the end of the road for these taxis as a Government mandate states that the last remaining Premier Padmini taxis will be scrapped sometime over the next month.
According to Team-BHP, Mumbai's taxis service was dominated by different manufacturers and models before the Padmini became the industry favourite. Vehicles that ferried passengers within the city included the Fiat Millecento, the Elegant, and the Select, especially during the 1950s.
The 1960's saw the Fiat Super Select and the Fiat 1100 dominate the scene, in addition to Austins, the Hillman Minx Mark III, Ford's Perfect, Standard Super Ten, the Chevrolet Fleetmaster, and the Plymouth P-10.
1972 saw older taxis replaced with the Premier President, and 1974 saw the rise of the Premier Padmini. The model remained the favourite workhorse for taxi drives until 1994, when the Premier 137D was launched.
Taxi drivers in Mumbai started replacing engines with used Japanese engines during the 90s. The era also saw diesel engines rise to popularity with cabbies.
Pollution created by the refurbished engines however, was a concern and the Bombay High Court passed an order that mandated scrapping end-of-life commercial vehicles.
Once the order was passed, models like the Hyundai Santro became the next vehicle to be widely accepted by taxi drivers in Mumbai.
The Padmini Premier 1974 model featured a 1,089cc carburetor petrol engine that produced 40hp and 83Nm of torque. The engine came mated to a four-speed manual transmission that sent power to the rear wheels.
The vehicle was capable of nailing the 0 to 60kmph mark in 27.4 seconds, the 0 to 100kmph mark in 29 seconds, and offered a top speed of 125 kilometers per hour.
The vehicle was priced at Rs 30,000 during 1974, and used but extremely well maintained Premier Padmini vehicles are available for roughly Rs 2 lakh today.
Thoughts About The Last Of The Premier Padmini Taxis Being Scrapped
Long time coming we think. While the Premier Padmini is and will always be associated with Mumbai culture, the decision to scrap these old vehicles is much needed. Vehicles that are available today are cleaner and more efficient than the ones over the last four decades. Having said that, the Padmini will definitely be missed.