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Sunday, 10 July 2011


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Oh no! Very sad indeed. I owned the 1992 model and it was truly marvelous. I was planning on making a new one my "retirement" gift to myself in about 10 years. I can think of nothing else that will replace this (i.e., that I will be able to afford). It was like riding on air. On the interstate I'd hit 80 m.p.h. and could just float, crank up the stereo and it was like you weren't even moving.


My dad, may he rest in peace, was a NYC Medallion Cab driver, owner-operator from 1957 (the year I was born) until his retirement in 1990. He paid $15,000 for his medallion in '57 and sold it for $200,000 in 1990. They currently go for well in excess of half a million and are in the hands of corporations. My dad's first cab was a trouble-prone Plymouth with the push buttons for shifting. I used to pull them out of the dashboard. Then he bought his shiny new blue and white Checker cab, jump seats and all. It wasn't until years later when they mandated all medallion cabs had to be yellow that he went to Earl Scheib and paid $39.99 to get it repainted. When my parents retired and moved to Florida, they took that Checker with them. My mom drove it for years thereafter.

I had a 1995 sort of a dark red. I loved that car but needed to sell when I moved. It was like driving a Land Barge. The guy who bought it is still driving it. I learned to drive on a 1969 Pontiac Catalina, metallic gold with the black vinyl roof and all black inside. With no air conditioning, driving it was quite a treat in the summer as you can imagine.

City Changes - some things are definitely for the better, but it's sad when a historic structure that was once of prominence is just left to decay. It happens a lot in the Northeast cities.

My last trip to the airport was in a black Cadillac Escalade. Great view. The back seat of a Town Car is like a cave.

The era of the London black cab hasn't ended. There's usually a line of them waiting when I get off the HEX at Paddo.

Hi Mike,
I took many of those livery cabs. It's illegal for them to pick you up on the street, but they always would, and after you settled into the soft leather seats there would be a solid "kerchunk" as they locked the rear doors and a bit of apprehension as you realized that they had removed the part that you pull up on to unlock the car. Wonderfully quiet and smooth ride, but you were trapped until you paid them! I wonder if the new version will allow for this essential modification.

Not quite on point, but such a distinct memory of the city that I thought I'd share it. Cheers, S

I live in midtown Manhattan - going on 20 years now - and the only times i see/notice Towncars is when i have to take one to the airport. Maybe i'm missing something, but i don't feel as if they're an integral part of the fabric of New York.

Chauffeur-driven, black Mercedes sedans and Escalades seem to be de rigeur these days.

One of my favorite pastimes is watching cities evolve. And one of the best ways to do this is through photographs. I hope some enterprising photographer in NY starts a collection of images of town cars. We'll all be the richer in 20 years.

Wow, I can't believe that the Town Car is on it's last legs, it's like an institution is ending.

The Crown Victoria is coming to an end, too. The three finalists for the official NYC cab included a Nissan made in Mexico and a Karsan and a Ford, both made in Turkey. The Karsan was the coolest, the Nissan the blandest, so you can guess what they chose.


Once again, the lede is buried in this post:


Sign me up, bollocks the cost!

Just sold my Crown Vic and bought a Volvo. Times do change.

In the mid 1960s, on a trip to New York from Holland, we noticed a Citroën DS parked on the street. My wife had trouble believing that it was the same car that we had in Holland. It looked too small when compared with the other cars.


You state well the advantages of the Lincoln as a livery car, but you've neglected the best aspect of the cars for many readers of the blog...

There is very little in the way of cameras, stands, lights, and tripods that won't fit in that trunk. I don't know how many shoots I've done, mostly video, where we relied on those Lincolns for all transportation needs.

And to CK's point: they may not be plentiful in Midtown, but in Brooklyn, where Yellow cabs almost never go, they *are* the taxi service. Occasionally I'll have six in my field of view at once. They'll be missed, and their absence noticed.

Yes, I've cleared it with Peter--I'm going to attend the May workshop in Paris. We haven't exactly sorted out what I'm going to do, but I'm sure there will be a presentation/lecture and I'll probably be available to discuss peoples' work with them. I won't be a co-presenter--it will still be Peter's show, run the way he wants it to run (which is the way you want it, BTW--he's a much more experienced workshop presenter than I am), but I'll be there.


For Mike's memories - still going strong in Zurich

Citroen DS

Ah, Citroens. :) For the historical accuracy, both 2CV and DS were also manufactured/assembled in Koper, in today's Slovenia. So the cars were quite common around here. My father used to own an Ami 8. Man, talk about jelly suspension.

The Talbotville (St. Thomas) plant of Ford, south of London Ontario is the final birthplace of Crown Victorias, Crown Victoria police service vehicles and lastly the Lincoln Town Car. When production of these body on frame, rear wheel drive, V-8 engined vehicles end, the Talbotville plant shall close. No replacement vehicle will be built by Ford, there. Employees not taking early retirement have been offered positions
at Ford's main assembly plant in Oakville Ontario.

Welcome to Paris, Mike!

I'm guessing you'll be too busy with the workshop to meet those of us who live in the area, but if I'm wrong and you decide you'd like to go to a get-together, you can count me in.

Peter is of course more than welcome too ;)

I'd join the workshop, but I'm not a street photographer and would rather leave that spot to somebody who can make better use of it.


My first car was a 1971 Peugeot 204 sedan, 4-speed column shift. By the time I bought it, Peugeot had already stopped importing cars into Canada. At the time I longed for a 504 diesel but never got one.

My second car was a FIAT 128, and shortly after that FIAT stopped importing cars into Canada.

The Town Car thing is not my fault, I swear.

This reminds me of 1996 all over again when GM dropped the B-body platform and the Chevy Caprice would no longer be the standard of police fleets across the United States.

I've still got a '94 9C1 (SPID code for the police package) Caprice that was my daily driver until 2008 that I hope to fix up into a "weekend warrior" at some point. The LT1 inside did a really great job of getting a big car up and moving. It'd be fun to fix it up a bit and take it out to the dragstrip every now and again.

I think my father can fairly be described as a Francophile, and we actually owned a Peugeot 604 during the brief period Peugeot was officially imported into the States. It was my mother's car, and it was the most expensive car she'd ever bought up to that time. (Our other cars included a Checker Marathon, an AMC Eagle, and a Gremlin--you can tell that as a family we didn't have standard tastes in vehicles! Although my father was ahead of his time with the 4WD Eagle, which was for all intents and purposes a true ancestor of today's so-called "crossovers.")

The 604 was not a performance car, but it had a lovely luxurious suspension and superb steering. The problem came when my brother rear-ended some poor unfortunate at a stoplight--just rammed right into him. The parts for the Peugeot repair had to come from France--and apparently they came on a raft, propelled by a swimmer. The repair took *forever*. Actually forever and a day. I can't recall now how long the Peugeot was with us or when it left us, but it might have had something to do with the wishes of the insurance company, and it's probably telling that my mother's next four cars were all Honda Accords.


Dear Mike,

I have pleasant memories of one of those livery drivers managing to get me from the Javitz Center to the airport in a legally-impossibly (possibly physically-impossibly) short period of time so I would not miss a flight. I gave him a rather substantial tip on top of the rather substantial fare.

SHJ's comment about getting into one of those cars reminded me that I am sufficiently old-car-school that whenever I get into our new car, and shift it into gear and the doors automatically lock themselves, my subconscious feels like it's going to hear a deep gravelly voice come out of the speaker saying “Ah yes, Mr. Ctein, I have you now. No I don't expect you to drive. I expect you to die.”

Cue threatening music.

Regarding your bombshell announcement of a workshop in Paris, this would seem to preclude us rendezvousing in Madison next Memorial Day weekend (no, I am not going to Paris). No doubt this will cause you to rethink your plans.


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I think I will sell my Volvo and get a Town Car. The local Ford guy has one sitting there looking lonely and it is one sweet ride. Maybe not an Alfa GTV, but at 62 it feels darned comfy to me.

"Regarding your bombshell announcement of a workshop in Paris, this would seem to preclude us rendezvousing in Madison next Memorial Day weekend (no, I am not going to Paris)."

To quote France's top def jam comedian, Jean K. Jean, ZUT ALORS! I did not know that was a conflict.

Perhaps I shall have to plan a second trip next year, to Minneapolis. 2012 is shaping up to be a very busy travel year indeed for moi--TWO trips!?! Zut alors!


Not that it's important, but twenty years ago the 98 Oldsmobile had a big part of the "Black Car" market share and was very popular with the hip hop set. Public Enemy referred to the "98 Posse" in one of its songs. I was driving a yellow back then and knew that the Checker was going to be missed because it had always been the most popular taxi during my lifetime. I started taking pictures of Checkers and have several dozen in my archives. I guess I should do a Checker calendar one day. I have over a dozen posted at my site:


Dear Mike,

I am crushed and hurt that I was not the first thing on your mind when you were offered a friggin' TRIP TO PARIS!

After all we've meant to each other...


Getting back to reality, there's no guarantee I'll be in Madison next Memorial Day weekend. Nothing in my life is firm that far ahead. Just noting that if I were, we'd not overlap unless you were heading back directly from the workshop.

In which case I'd be getting together with a seriously jet-lagged and sleep-derived editor.

(Hmmmm, wonder what concessions and perks I could extract under such circumstances, heh heh.)

pax / Ctein

Well, FIAT is back now. Maybe Peugeot and Citroen will follow?

I remember back in the 70's when the Baldwin Park (CA) Police Department bought a brand new Checker to test as a squad car. They only bought one and that was the end of the test. I know, because I was a young California Highway Patrol officer driving one of the big 440 Magnum Dodge Polara patrol cars that ran on regular leaded gas and most of the time went faster than it rally needed to. We (I and all my fellow CHiPpies) laughed quite a bit at that Checker, much to the chagrin of the city officers. What this has to do with photography, I don't know. But, as Mike often does...hey, I'm just saying...

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