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Mumbai taxi drivers bid farewell to an icon of the road

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

Drivers and mechanics of Premier Padmini taxis gather together at a workshop in Mumbai, India on October 4, 2012. The Premier Padmini was manufactured in India by Premier Automobiles from 1964 to 2000 and is based on the design of Fiat's 1100-series cars from the 1960s. The vehicle quickly became the iconic workhorse in Mumbai's fleet of black and yellow taxis until economic liberalisation in the 1990s allowed different makes and models to be produced in India.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A driver demonstrates the use of a manually operated fare meter on October 12, 2012.

The Premier Padmini, the iconic workhorse in Mumbai's fleet of black and yellow cabs for nearly 50 years, faces an imminent demise. With the introduction of a government order banning taxis over 25 years old, the number of Padminis has begun to dwindle and, in a few years, they will be gone from the Indian city's streets altogether.   

Reuters photographer Vivek Prakash, once a taxi driver himself (though in the relatively sedate streets of Brisbane, Australia), set out to pay an affectionate tribute to the car he calls "the grand old dame of Mumbai's streets":

Power steering? Who needs it. Nothing a bit of elbow grease can’t fix. Air conditioning? Forget about it! You live in a sultry humid city, you should learn to love it. Electric windows? I don’t think so, use the handle to roll it down. Suspension? What suspension? Just remember you’ll feel every little bump on your way home tonight.

Here in Mumbai we love to hate the Padmini. They are uncomfortable, hot, steamy, and funny smelling. But when they’re gone, we’ll miss them.

Read more at Reuters' Photographers Blog.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A driver waits for customers in front of an apartment building in Mumbai's suburbs on October 3, 2012.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

Customers sit in the cramped back seat of a Premier Padmini taxi during rush hour in Mumbai on October 4, 2012.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A taxi driver looks out of his Premier Padmini while stuck in traffic in a slum in Mumbai on October 3, 2012.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A driver waits for customers on Marine Drive in Mumbai on October 2, 2012.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A de-registered Premier Padmini taxi is pictured covered in dust with love hearts etched on its windows in a scrapyard in Mumbai on October 2, 2012.

Vivek Prakash / Reuters

A taxi driver sleeps on the boot of his Premier Padmini at a taxi park in Mumbai on October 4, 2012.

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