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Bauer Taxicab Mfg Co., 1924-1925; Bauer Taxi Co., 1924-1927; Bauer Mfg Co.; 1921-1927, Chicago, Illinois
Associated Builders
Bauer Taxicab Mfg Co.; Bauer Tire & Rubber Co., 1925-1927, Harvey, Illinois

Perry Sidney Bauer, the founder of small empire of automobile-related concerns, was born in Chatfield, Fillmore county, Minnesota on April 29, 1876 (one account states 1880) to Louis and Augusta Bauer. Louis Bauer (b.1838-d.1909) and his young family (wife Augusta (b.1842), son Alexander (b.1862), daughters Ida (b.1864) and Antoine (b.1866) emigrated to the United States from Weingarten, Baden, Germany in 1866.

The family established a country store and meat market in the small village of Chatfield which was located southeast of Rochester, 20 miles north of the Iowa border. In Minnesota a number of children were added to the Bauer clan including Gustave (b.1867), Carrie (b.1870), Alice (b.1872), Minnie (b.1875) and Perry (b.1876) the subject of this story.

In 1889 the growing Bauer family relocated to Chicago, Illinois where Louis and his two eldest sons, Alexander (Aleck) and Gustave T. found employment with T.W. Heineman Co., a medical instrument distributor and manufacturer.

In partnership with Stephen H. Black (b.1861), the Bauers purchased a controlling share in the firm in 1894, reorganizing it as Bauer & Black. Black was a fifteen year veteran of the porous plaster and surgical dressing business, which he incorporated into the Heineman surgical instrument line.

At the turn of the century Bauer & Black’s officers were as follows: Louis Bauer, president; Alexander Bauer, treasurer; Stephen H. Black, secretary, and Gustav T. Bauer superintendent. Perry Bauer joined the firm during the 1890s serving as its vice-president between1901 and 1918.  

Perry S. Bauer became enamored with the automobile and during the early twenties established a number of auto-related businesses which included the Bauer Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of automotive accessories, the Bauer Tire & Rubber Co, a tire manufacturer, the Bauer Cab Company, a Chicago taxicab operator, and the Bauer Taxicab Manufacturing Co. manufacturer of the taxicabs operated by its Chicago affiliate.

In 1921 the Bauer Mfg Co. introduced a popular aftermarket steering wheel lock for the Ford Model T. During the next two years Bauer introduced a full line of adjustable steering wheels, and steering gear locks. Advertisements claimed over 6,000 Bauer Steering Gear Locks had been sold by 1925.

Steering wheel locks were a popular Model T accessory and two other Chicago inventors, Leroy C. Lazear and Richard M Decker, offered their own examples.

Chicago’s Bauer Mfg Co. was unrelated to the Bauer Mfg. Co. of Kansas City Missouri, a firm that manufactured small gasoline engines prior between 1894 and 1920. Also unrelated was the Bauer Mfg. Co. of Wooster, Ohio, a manufacturer of ladders and scaffolding, which is till doing business as the Bauer Ladder Corp.

To head up its sales department, Bauer selected the well-known ex-racing driver, Louis Disbrow, who claimed to be “a veteran of more automotive encounters than any man who ever sat behind a racing car's steering wheel”. After suffering a serious injury in 1916, Disbrow, an early AAA National championship driver and four-time Indianapolis 500 (1911-1914) competitor, retired from competition, becoming a Cleveland, Ohio automobile dealer, manufacturer (1917 Disbrow Special - one chassis exists), and manufacturer’s representative.

Disbrow was a very effective salesman whose racing exploits attracted attention wherever he went. His most popular story, is retold in the following article that was published in the June 11, 1922 Sioux City Sunday Journal:


“Negro on Duty as Night Watchman Vanishes When "Ghost" Appears—Disbrow tells of His Hair Raising Experience.

“Louis Disbrow, who was one of the contestants in the big Sioux City automobile race at the Union county speedway in 1914, which was won by Ed Rickenbacker, was in Sioux City Saturday. He came here as a salesman for the Bauer Manufacturing company, of Chicago, manufacturers of automobile tilt wheels and locks. He departed in the evening for Minneapolis.

“Mr. Disbrow was in the racing game for 20 years and in that time experienced enough thrills to satisfy a thousand persons. During his racing career he suffered the fracture of 36 bones, and at Albany, Ga., was taken from an accident at the race track to a morgue,

where for nine and a half hours he lay on a slab covered with a sheet. At the end of this period he revived and walked out into the office of the undertaking establishment, where a negro was sitting in his capacity of night watchman.

“The appearance of the "ghost" was enough to send the negro through the door leading to the street, said Mr. Disbrow, with sufficient momentum to be still carrying him forward.

“Mr. Disbrow is enthusiastic in his praise of what automobile drivers have done toward making automobiles safe. He said they always have worked to perfect devices that would make for the safety of machines, and the result of this constant effort is not only manifested in automobiles as they are known today, but is unmistakably reflected in aviation in the shape of improved motors.

“Mr. Disbrow paid a warm compliment to Bob Burman, the well known automobile racer, who was killed in a race at Santa Monica, Cal. Burman is deserving of a monument by the American people, said Mr. Disbrow, for his achievements toward the perfection of the dry plate clutch. This is the device that makes it possible for autos to be started without a jerk, which was quite a common characteristic of the early machines.”

During the twenties Bauer manufactured and distributed a full line of Model T accessories and held patents on the following auto-related devices:

Automatic Steering Device for Motor Vehicles – Sep 1, 1920

Combined Automatic Steering Gear and Lock – Aug. 18, 1921
Tilting Steering Wheel – Sep. 22, 1921
Steering Gear – May 4, 1922
Motor Driven Vehicle (Taxicab) - Sep 1, 1923
Taxicab Body - May 23, 1924
Vehicle Body (Taxicab) - May 24, 1924
Front Wheel Indicator – Oct 29, 1934

Despite being shot in the leg by two carjackers on August 7, 1922 - “CHICAGO Aug 9, 1922 — Perry Bauer, member of the firm of Bauer and Black, dealers in surgical instruments, was shot in the leg yesterday by one of two auto bandits who stole Bauer's car.” - Bauer decided to enter Chicago’s often hazardous taxicab manufacturing business midway through 1923 introducing a "wreck-proof" taxicab whose novel design and rigid construction made it well suited for livery service.

Designed in collaboration Karl K. Kizer, the Bauer taxicab included a novel right rear passenger door that was angled 45 degrees so that it opened forward into the right front compartment, rather than into the street, allowing additional passengers to enter or exit the vehicle without disturbing the other occupants.

The novel door could not be opened from the inside, eliminating the potential for a passenger to exit the cab without paying the fare. Even when open the rear door stayed within the confines of the automobile body eliminating the possibility of it being torn off by a passing vehicle.

A prototype was built in the Bauer Mfg Co. shop which was located at 117 East 30th St., Chicago. In addition to his part-time work as chief engineer of Bauer taxicab, SAE member Karl K. Kizer (1898-1974) operated his own Chicago auto equipment company, the Kizer Equipment Co., at 3110 South Michigan Ave. After a long career as an Indianpolis-based racecar mechanic, engine builder and consulting engineer, Kizer was named as first curator of the Indianapolis’ Motor Speedway Museum in 1956.

The Bauer Taxicab was announced to the trade in early 1924 as follows:

“The Bauer Taxicab Mfg. Co., 115 East Thirtieth Street, Chicago, recently incorporated, has leased a plant at 3021-23 South Michigan Avenue, and will manufacture taxicabs and trucks. Officers include Perry S. Bauer, president; Harry B. Louer, treasurer ; Oscar Blumenthal, secretary ; and Harold M. Marks, vice-president.”

Along with his two brothers, Frank A. and Murray D., Harry B. Lauer had made a small fortune during the First World War supplying knitted goods to the US military. He was secretary and treasurer of Louer Bros., 215-117 S. Market St, (formerly 191-193 Market) whose ‘Polar Knitting Mills’ produced coats, sweaters, scarves and other knitted novelties. Harry’s brother Murray was also a substantial investor in the Bauer Taxicab Mfg. Co.

Perry S. Bauer served as vice-president of the H.B. Louer Co. a firm founded by Harry B. Louer at the end of the War. Originally a hat manufacturer located at 143 N. Wabash Ave., Lauer abandoned the millinery trade and became Chicago’s Caterpillar Tractor distributor in the early twenties. In addition to its 1512 S. Mich. Blvd., Chicago showroom, the W.B. Louer Co. had a satellite branch located in St Louis, Missouri at 2812 Iowa Ave.

In conjunction with the establishment of the taxicab manufacturing company, Bauer and his investors organized a taxicab operating affiliate - Bauer Cab Co. - which soon placed a fleet of 100 Bauer side-door taxicabs on the streets of Chicago.

The Bauer Side-Door Taxicab was displayed at the 1924 Chicago Auto Show where it attracted the attention of two visiting Georgia investors, Price E. Hertz, and A.L. (Alvin Looney) Belle Isle, who consequently purchased a small interest in the firm. Hertz (b.1886-d.1933) was vice-president of the People’s Banking & Trust Co. of Macon, Georgia and Belle Isle (b.1884-d.1950) was president of the Black and White Cab Company, Atlanta, Georgia.

Belle Isle had been involved in Atlanta’s automobile hire and taxicab business since its inception. He also served as Atlanta’s official chauffeur, piloting visiting dignitaries such as President Franklin D Roosevelt and singer Enrico Caruso. In 1937 Belle Isle was elected president of the National Taxicab Owners Association. At that time he was president of the Atlanta Baggage & Cab Company, the Black & White Cab Company (Atlanta), Yellow Cab Co. (Atlanta) and the Belle Isle Garage.

Period advertisements heralded the Bauer Front Door Taxicab:

“FOR THE BAUER FRONT DOOR TAXICAB The Cab With Distinction for People Who Know Convenience, Comfortable and Practical BAUER TAXICAB MANUFACTURING CO.”

The firm issued a 23pp catalog entitled ‘The Bauer front-door taxicab’ which explained the advantages of the design in great detail. Its conventional heavy-duty chassis rode on a 115-inch wheelbase and was powered by a 4-cylinder Buda engine. Another unusual feature was the inclusion of Westinghouse air brakes and an electrically activated emergency brake.

The new financiers made it possible to purchase a proper manufacturing facility in the Chicago suburb of Harvey, Illinois. A local paper, the Riverdale, Illinois Pointer announced the purchase in their March 27, 1925 issue:


“Bought Factory Buildings at 147th Street and Page Avenue, Harvey

“Will Give Employment to 250 to 500 Men—Buda Motors Used In Bauer Cabs

“The Bauer Manufacturing Co., the Bauer Taxicab Co. and the Bauer Tire and Rubber Co., have purchased the factory buildings on 147th street, near the Ingalls-Shepard Co. plant from the Steel Fabricating Co., and will start operations in a short time.

“While this plant is not located in Riverdale or Dolton it is close by and only a few minutes ride from either town and means much to local mechanics and labor generally in this neighborhood.

“The Harvey Chamber of Commerce had much to do in locating the plant here. They will employ about 250 men as soon as the first unit is in working condition and when all three departments are under way will employ close to 500 men.

“The Bauer cab is a new cab recently put on the market and is proving very popular. There are 100 of the cabs already on the streets of Chicago. A recent order was filled for Atlanta, Georgia, and shipments were made this week to both New York City and California.

“They also have more than 8,000 customers for the Bauer lock and wheel which are made for Ford dealers, among them being the White Motor company of Harvey and Dolton.

“The Buda motors manufactured in Harvey are used in the Bauer cabs. The coming of this company will bring as many families here as there will be homes for and others will come later. It will mean that more homes must be provided to take care of this growth in population.”

“Chicago, Ill, May 18, 1925 - (AP) - The taxi-cab warfare broke out again when two male fares of a Bauer taxi-cab fired four shots at the driver. None hit him.”

Local 727 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Chauffeurs Stablemen and Helpers launched a strike against Bauer during the fall of 1926, which turned violent on October 2:

“Chicago, Ill, Oct 2, 1926 - (INS) - One driver was severely beaten and two of three taxicabs seized today were burned in the latest outbreak in connection with the Bauer taxicab company strike here. Emil Thieme, 28, was dragged from his cab by mob on the west side and was being beaten when police dispersed the attackers. His cab was taken away and burned. Another cab was found burned in another section of the city.”

The strike continued into November of 1926 when Chicago’s Police Department was ordered to enforce a recently enacted City Council ordinance mandating the bonding of all of the city’s taxicab drivers. The legislation was implemented under the second administration of Mayor William Hale Thompson, and was likely suggested by one of Thompson’s ‘friends’ which included John D. Hertz, the owner of the Yellow Cab Company.

The legislation effectively put many of the city’s individual cabbies and small fleet operators out of business as they couldn’t afford the additional; financial burden faced with the City’s current fare schedule.

The new law was of little consequence to Bauer as they were close to bankruptcy due to the already month-long strike of Bauer’s 500 union cabbies. By December the firm’s gas and oil account was several months in arrears, and Continental Oil’s attorney asked for a receiver. Fearing that his investment in the associated Bauer Taxicab Mfg Co. was in jeopardy, Murray D. Louer filed a similar motion against it.

Although the firm was rarely mentioned in the Chicago press, the January 14, 1927 Chicago Daily Herald carried the following item:

“An intoxicated man driving a Bauer Cab smashed into the morning delivery wagon of the Logan Square Milk Co., causing the driver considerable injury us well as the horse. The wagon also was demolished. Incidentally it was the eve of the bankruptcy of the Bauer Cab Co., and not being able to reach any friends, the driver was still in jail Monday. His trial was set for 7 p. m. Monday evening.”

As sales of the Bauer taxicab had been significantly less than expected during 1926, the firm’s directors decided to liquidate all of Bauer’s auto-related holdings. The dissolution was announced in the January 28, 1927 Riverdale, Illinois Pointer:

“Receiver For Bauer Cab Co.

“With the filing of petitions for dissolution and receivership for companies manufacturing and operating Bauer taxicabs in Circuit court Monday, the 500 cabs were taken off the streets. Judge Wilson appointed the Chicago Title and Trust Company receivers.

“Stein, Mayer and David, attorneys for both the companies, announced that liabilities were approximately $600,000 equally divided between the Bauer Cab and Bauer Taxicab Manufacturing Companies. Assets were sufficient, they claimed, to pay all creditors in full and leave a balance for stockholders. The cab company has approximately $500,000 in paid up stock and the manufacturing concern $700,000 paid up. The petition against the cab company was filed in behalf of the Continental Oil Company, claiming to be a creditor to the extent of $5,500; and that against the manufacturing firm by Murray D. Louer, claiming $66,950. The Bauer Manufacturing Company is located at Harvey.”

Most of the assets of the Chicago-based Taxicab operating company were purchased by Michael Shapiro, who continued to operate it under its former moniker. Excess taxicabs were sold off and the Harvey, Illinois assets of the taxi manufacturing division were auctioned, and its property taken over by the bank.

Bauer suffered little in the enterprise as he remained president of the family’s successful surgical supply business which was acquired by the Kendall Co. (formerly Kendall Mills, Inc.) of Walpole, Massachusetts in 1928.

Bauer Tire & Rubber Co. had no connection with today’s Bauer Built Tire, a large commercial tire distributor and re-treader founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1944. Today Bauer Built has 28 tire centers, nine wholesale distribution centers and seven MRT (Michelin Retread Technology) retread plants.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -






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