The Taxi Cab

The Taxi cab has been with us a long time. What was the very first taxi cab company? The first cab company, the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company, operated in New York City as early as 1897 employing twelve electric hansoms. There was also the Columbia Electric Company.

columbia electric car
Columbia Electric advertisement

This was that time between the horse and the automobile. Believe it or not there were a good number of people who preferred the horse. The Columbia Hansom taxi cab was designed with two motors at the rear of the vehicle and could carry four passengers. The cab could carry four passengers. The problems with the Columbia cab were the batteries which obviously needed constant charging.  The automobile would finally begin to take shape in a usable form right at the turn of the century. In fact, a good number of the early car makers and auto experimenters were involved in the carriage building business.

During your travels today you might very well see a lot of Yellow Cab taxis but chances are you won’t run across a 1950 Dodge Yellow Cab like the one we are showcasing here. The surprising thing about the Yellow Cabs is how long they’ve been working on American streets.

The Yellow Taxi Cab Co. began in New York City in 1912. Actually, there were more than just one cab company that utilized the color “yellow“. In 1909 there was a Yellow Cab Company of Baltimore founded. John Hertz founded the Yellow Cab Company of Chicago in 1914, totally different from the one operating in New York and Baltimore.

dodge meadowbrook
1950 Dodge Meadowbrook


The taxi cab game was taking off. This was at a time that the automotive industry itself was just getting started. Another interesting difference between the two companies was that they used very different vehicles. For one thing, John Hertz used cars from his Chicago car dealership. To add a bit to the confusion of names, in regards to John Hertz in Chicago, he also founded the Yellow Cab Manufacturing Company in 1920 which was totally separate from his Chicago cab company. In case you’re wondering, this was the same John Hertz whose name is used on the large car rental agency. Hertz would eventually be in a hot competitive taxi battle in Chicago with Morris Markin’s new Checker Cab company.

The Yellow taxi cab concept really took off. Just a few years after the cabs appearance on the streets of Chicago, Yellow Cabs became a common sight on the streets of four of Australia’s capital cities. The concept truly went international.

Popular Yellow Cab Vehicle Types

By the 1920’s several players were involved building taxi cabs. Ford and general Motors were involved. The potential of the taxi cab market was obvious to many of them.

checker motors
Checker Motor Company logo

Although the big automakers like Ford and GM had the lions share of the market, some others did emerge. One of the biggest builders was the Checker Motors Corporation based in Kalamazoo Michigan. This company built taxi cabs used by the Checker Taxi company. These cars were considered very good for taxi work since they were both quite rugged and had plenty of room for passengers and baggage. One advantage was their large rear seats. The company actually entered the consumer car business in the late 1950’s and had a dealer network set up. Production peaked in 1962 with 8,000 unis built. The future involved buyouts, mergers, recession set backs and at one time renamed Great Dane Limited Partnership. Eventually the company acted as a subcontractor for GM but ended up filing for bankruptcy in 2009. This ended an 87 year history. People today might remember those large yellow and black taxis that would become a highly recognized symbol.

dodge yellow cab
1950 Dodge Yellow Cab

Two additional photo articles we’ve published you’ll find interesting are the 1953 Pontiac Chieftain with it’s unique hood ornament and the 1947 Pontiac Streamliner representing sleeker post World War Two designs.

The 1950 Dodge Meadowbrook Yellow Cab

The vehicle highlighted in this article is a 1950 Dodge Meadowbrook. The Dodge Meadowbrook was a full size four door sedan built by Chrysler. The Meadowbrook models were produced from 1949 to 1954. In fact, when they were introduced in 1949 they accounted for about one third of Dodge sales.

1950 Dodge Meadowbrook Specs

The specs for the 1950 model year included a Chrysler L-head Six 230 cubic inch engine putting out 103 HP. Fuel capacity was 16.9 gallons. The curb weight was about 3,600 lbs and the transmission an automatic three speed. The wheelbase was 123.5 inches. The 1950 Meadowbrook had an official  top speed of 82 MPH and an average gas consumption average of about 12-14 MPG. Factory tire size was 7.10 x 15.

The Dodge Meadowbrook series of automobiles were well suited for the taxi cab industry in 1950 primarily because of their good size. These full size sedans had good space both inside and in the rear trunk. During 1953 and 1954 the Dodge Meadowbrooks were also available in two door models.