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Batman’s Yellow Taxi Cab at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago

In the early-1940s, the Yellow Cab Company began customizing their taxi cabs as a way to attract more attention from riders and to ease or eliminate repairing front fender collision damage.

This press photo of a Yellow taxi cab was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times on April 9, 1940. The press release with it reads as follows:

“A streamlined taxicab of the type soon to be put into service has been placed on display at the Hotel Sherman. The cab is equipped with portholes, one above the driver and the other over the passenger compartment. On the right, Frances Musinger is shown in the rear seat with the Landaulet top lowered. The new vehicles are to replace 1,200 cabs now operated by the Yellow Cab Company. The Checker Taxi Company also plans to use this new type of cab.”

“Landaulet top” mentioned in the press release was a water-proofed and compound-curved sheet metal panel with a rear window that disappeared into the rear section of the bodywork for use during good weather. A small “porthole” is visible above the windshield, and another one about 12 to 14 inches wide front to rear was located in the roof above the passenger’s compartment.

The custom front fenders lacked sheet metal directly in front of the wheels primarily to eliminate common repairs to that area and to lower operating costs. Also after a “fender bender”, a cab could usually continue on its way and not need to be towed into the garage due to a crumpled fender or a flat tire caused by a collision.

Tomorrow we will feature images of similar cabs in action on the streets of Chicago. Photo from The Old Motor archives.

12 responses to “Batman’s Yellow Taxi Cab at the Hotel Sherman in Chicago

  1. This has to be THE clearest image I’ve ever seen of these first-gen Checkers!! I knew about the rear ‘landaulette’ portion of the roof that folded down, but never realized the ‘vent’ built into the roof for the driver!! A nice way for him/her to get fresh air too, and perhaps see traffic lights easier.
    Has anyone ever found and restored one of these? They have to be nearly non-existent because they were driven into the ground! Reminds me of a late 30’s Chrysler with Studebaker headlamps!

  2. As I understand it, there is only one of these left. The pictures I have seen show the vehicle in black and maroon two tone with no cab markings .

  3. The taxicab looks like it could be a 1939 or ’40 CHECKER Model A.

    These cabs kind of grow on me.

    Have seen at least two of these taxicabs restored in “Google” images.

    • Actually this isn’t a first-generation Checker. The first ones were built in 1922. However all subsequent Checkers after this Model A used the same basic platform, and retained the “A” designation, from the postwar “A2” until the last one built, a 1982 “A12 .”

  4. Research shows, this would be the “Model A”, mid 1939-1941. It’s unclear who designed it and was discontinued when Checker shut down for the war. This had a Continental 6 cylinder, and after the war, Checker had a more conventional design. Apparently, according to the Checker Club, there is one left known in existence.

  5. I’m confused. Is this a Yellow Cab or a Checker? It’s a Checker, right? They split Yellow Manufacturing in two and sold the Yellow Coach bus company to GM and Yellow Cab to Checker.

    In response to Will Fox, the Checker Model A was built from 1939 to 1941 and was not resumed after the war. There is one surviving example, painted maroon and black.

  6. I see that the Yellow Cab logo on the door is the same shape and design as the headlight bezels. Were the lights made to look like the logo, or vice versa?

  7. Cars today have no character like these vehicles did. If a car manufacturer wanted to make an impression on the buying public make something with “Character” like these vehicles

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