Before Ola, Uber and fleet taxis took over Mumbai’s roads, a cab in the nation’s financial capital was a Kaali Peeli. And for old-timers, in particular, a Kaali Peeli—Hindi for black-and-yellow—was the Fiat Padmini.
The four-seat saloon manufactured in India from 1964 to 2000 by Premier Automobiles Ltd under license from Fiat was the only other car made in the nation besides the Ambassador by Hindustan Motors Ltd.
Padminis were mostly the only taxis available till the 1990s. At its peak, there were more than 60,000 of these plying on the city’s roads. About 40-50 remain now. And these, too, will cease soon.
In 2008, the Maharashtra government started to phase out older cars to reduce pollution and banned all taxis older than 25 years. In 2013, the age limit was lowered to 20. That was the end of the road for the Padmini taxis.
And while there are better, sleeker and more powerful cars available now, the Kaali Peelis still make old-time Mumbaikars nostalgic. Abdul Kareem, a Padmini taxi driver, picked up a passenger near a railway station. The man, Kareem said, had a chauffeur-driven car waiting for him but instead chose to take a ride in his taxi for old times’ sake.
Watch this video on how Kaali Peelis remind people of Bombay.