This is the 1949 Checker that I purchased close to 12 years ago in 2008. Its vintage Checker number three within my Checker collection. The collection totals four cars and includes four pre 1960 Checkers: a 1950 Checker Model A4, 1952 Checker Model A4 “parts car” and a 1957 Checker Model A8. The goal is to get the Checker Model A3 running and roadable in 2021.
Life has a funny habit of getting in the way of some of my projects, and this Checker has certainly fell victim to many interruptions. A costly litigation prosecuted by the Checker Car Club of America, career changes and a move from Chicagoland to Toledo are just a few of the life events that have delayed progress on this rare Checker. To demonstrate how long its been, here a link to the Hemmings Motor News article announcing the 2008 discovery.
I found this Checker Model A3 on Craig’s List back in 2008 and purchased within an hour of seeing it. According to the folks who sold it, the vehicle was in storage on a farm held up in an estate dispute since 1990. Eighteen years in limbo, thankfully I was able to snatch it up quickly for a very fair price.
Apparently, the Checker had been parked since 1968. Up until 1968, the Checker A3 was used as a family car as well as a taxicab in Oklahoma City. Further research indicates that the A3 was the first cab used by Yellow Cab. Operated by the Charlie Bernard, Yellow Cab would ultimately become Yellow-Checker Cab of Oklahoma.
It appears that Charles Bernard (1906-1977) purchased the car in the post war period to operate his cab service and support his farming activities. An A3, the Checker sports a full bench seat, not a single taxicab bucket seat found in A2s.
There aren’t any jump seats in the A3, it’s not clear if the jumps seats were omitted or had been removed after cab service. Apparently, Mr. Bernard had ten children, eight sons and two daughters. It’s quite possible that had the A3 been equipped with jump seats, Mr. Bernard would have been able to fit a family of ten in one Checker Cab!
Despite not being a Checker Model A2 taxicab, it’s clear that the Checker was indeed built for taxicab service. Upon removing all the original paint and surface rust, it became clear that the A2 was originally painted green with a yellow roof and fenders. The interior was clearly painted yellow. Given this, it is interesting to consider, how many Checker A3s produced without a taxi divider and full bench seats were still ordered for taxi service? One could imagine in rural areas where there was less concern for driver protection and separation, a bench seat may have been desirable, especially if the driver did not use a meter and charge by the passenger. Clearly an A3 could fit more passengers than an A2.
To date the A3 has been disassembled and stripped down to bare metal. All fenders have been chemically stripped and built back up by a Chicagoland body shop: Naperville Collision. All door windows have been replaced and reinstalled. Regulators have been stripped of rusts, reassembled and lubricated
There is minimal rust on the car. Thankfully the dryer Oklahoma climate protected the Checker. The surface rust on the body was easily removed, only a couple of areas needed to be address. As usual for any Checker the rockers will need to be rebuilt as will the door bottoms. A couple of holes exist in the floor area, but the rust is clearly not as bad as what was repaired on my 1950 Checker Model A2.
I recently acquired a running Continental engine from the Checker hoard scrapped in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 2018. Narragansett Electrical Company built new a new wire harness just before they went out of business which will be hooked up to the Continental Engine.
The chassis is very solid, so luckily, no major repairs are required. Like my Model A4, the A3 will be a rolling restoration, this will allow me to have fun with the car, while slowly bringing it back to Checker standards.
Over the last year, significant progress has been made on refurbishing the A3. My friend Tom Quinn and his crew at Ogden Motor Cars in Lisle, Illinois installed the 1963 Continental OVHD 225 cubic inch engine. Over the last eight weeks I have been actively restoring the body and bring the car back to presentable condition. The vehicle is painted in an unusual Burgundy and Khaki paint scheme. This car will be restored as a New York City Bell Transportation taxicab, hence the interesting color combination.
The parts car A4 that I own will provide the divider and cab driver bucket seat. The next step is to rewire the engine, convert to 12 volts and install a new Clutch. Kaiser Willys dot com will supply all transmission components. Thankfully the very popular Jeep trucks and Station Wagons of the 50’s used the same Continental/Borg Warner drivetrain combination.
Hopefully all we go smoothly and we’ll be on the road by Summer. We’ll keep you posted a more progress is made this year.
Some past articles by Hemmings Motor News regarding these rare post war Checkers
Video of the Checker coming home in 2008