The standard 1930 GMC Model 6 Taxi Cab (BML19) was released in December 2016. It is finished in yellow/black with tan interior, yellow license plate, blackwall tyres and the logo of Yellow Taxi Cab. A second model was made in white/black with white wheels and the logo of Ernie’s Cab Service. A silver plate on the base says it is a limited edition model. This model was designed from a car which belongs to the NB Center collection.
The idea of painting taxicab in high visibility yellow belongs to John Hertz, a salesman who joined the Walden Shaw Livery Company of Chicago in 1905. They bought used cars and modified them for use as a taxicab, painting them in yellow so they could be easily noticed in the traffic of the big cities. Starting as a salesman and becoming a partner in 1908, John Hertz convinced his associates that building a strong chassis with a body made on purpose for this job could be a good business. In 1910 Hertz founded the Yellow Cab Company in Chicago, which soon grew to gain a nationwide presence, so he knew that modified passenger cars did not have the ruggedness to withstand harsh use as taxicabs. Hence in 1915 the Yellow Taxicab Manufacturing Company was born, to manufacture purpose-built taxicabs. In the initial years, the engine was a Continental four-cylinder, with a three-speed Brown-Lipe transmission. The body was made in-house, and was specifically designed for use as a taxicab, with more space for the passengers and better protection for the driver. The first 150 cars were built in 1915 and they had a huge success, so many thousands more were built in later years. The taxicabs were sold directly to the operators, or sold them on a credit plan, with a share on the taxicab operator income. By the mid-twenties, there was a ferocious battle between the Yellow Cab Company and the Checker Cab Company, another taxicab business that had started to build its own cars for this use. The fight between the two companies became illegal, mainly in Chicago, with shootings, deaths and explosives attacks. John Hertz had gained full control of the company and the subsidiary Manufacturing Company and in 1925 he decided to sell the car-making business to General Motors. He maintained interests in the taxicab business, until a raging fire destroyed his racing stables, with eleven horses killed. Disgusted, he sold off all his interests in the Yellow Cab Taxi Company, concentrating on the Hertz Rental Car Company. GM marketed the taxicabs under the Yellow Coach name until 1929, when it was changed to General Motors Cab Company. Since the GM acquisition, the powerplant had been changed to a Buick overhead cam six. The frame was very similar to the Buick unit used on the larger cars, while the body had many reinforcements in the door hinge area and on the running boards. In 1933 and 1934, Pontiac cars were modified to withstand taxicab use, while in later years, General Motors Cab marketed a modified long wheelbase Chevrolet body with truck axles and a Chevrolet engine. Production was halted in 1938, and the Company was closed.
The yellow General Motors Cab it’s a Hollywood movie star that featured in the 1946 film “It’s a Wonderful Life”, when taxicab driver Ernie drives the main character George Bailey, played by James Stewart, around Bedford Falls, his hometown. On Christmas Eve George was thinking of a suicide because everything was going wrong in his life, but God sent him a guardian angel who showed him how the lives of the people he loves could have been much worse without him, since he had always helped them. So he is convinced to return home and he finds a beautiful Christmas present: all the friends he helped in his life brought some money to save him from bankruptcy.
Author: Gianluigi Cappi
You may find more pictures and information on this model plus many other Brooklin stories in the Brooklin Models Collectors Guide.