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Cash Cab Comes To Chicago!

By Anna Deem in News on Dec 11, 2010 7:30PM

Cash Cab
All it takes to accomplish anything these days is to start a Facebook page. After more than 13,000 fans flocked to a Facebook page called "Bring Cash Cab to Chicago!" the Discovery Channel answered their request by deciding to film a Chicago version of the popular taxi trivia show. Reps for the show's production company, Lion Television, would only tell Time Out Chicago that the cab in question was out on the streets right now, ready to pick up unsuspecting contestants.

To track down more information, TOC interviewed prop fabricator Marshall Wilson, the man who is responsible for turning the regular cab into a game-show set. They found out that Wilson--who runs his own company called Wilsonbuilt and has built two cars for the New York show and one for the Toronto show--traveled to Chicago in October to install a custom polycarbonate panel holding 1,224 LEDs on the interior roof of a Yellow Cab. Wilson gave TOC some tips on how to spot the Cash Cab in Chicago:

"Make and model: Wilson says Chicago's Cash Cab vehicle is a shiny Toyota Sienna minivan dressed as part of the Yellow Cab fleet and numbered on the body with the black digits 4472. "We only have a few Toyota [minivans]," a Yellow Cab rep who didn't want to be identified told us. "Most are Dodge and Chevy."

License plate: Chicago taxi license plates include a number followed by the letters "TX." But according to photos Wilson took while doing the lighting-rig installation, the Cash Cab vehicle has a plain old Illinois license plate: L53 5925.

Host: How many blond-haired, blue-eyed women do you see driving Chicago taxis? Exactly! The Second City e.t.c. cast member Beth Melewski--the Chicago surrogate for gregarious NYC Cash Cab host Ben Bailey--should be easy to spot behind the wheel.

Roof sign: "Usually there are advertisements," Wilson says. "This cab is unique because it has a skyline of Chicago instead. If you look closely, you'll see three little camera lenses poking out of the top fiberglass unit to get exterior shots of the front and the two sides."

Route: The Cash Cab minivan shouldn't stray too far from the North Side and the Loop, says Jeff Feldman, president of Taxi Medallion Management, which oversees Chicago's Yellow Cab fleet. Fans have reported spotting the cab on the Gold Coast and in Lakeview. The typical New York Cash Cab path sticks to touristy areas, such as Times Square. So, while it'd be interesting to see who Melewski might pick up in Stranglewood, we'd recommend staking out the Mag Mile or Navy Pier."