Checker introduced its first post war car late in 1947. Unlike the other US auto manufacturers, Checker could not immediately produced cars after the war ended in 1945. Morris Markin had destroyed all the manufacturing tools and dies for the 1940-41 Model A for the war effort. Essentially Checker would have to introduce an entirely new car built from the ground up.
Initially Checker had two false starts developing a post war car, the Model C and Model D. The Model C was a rear engine, rear wheel drive minivan type vehicle. The concept did not clear the early engineering phase, Head of Engineering Herb Snow determined that the Model C test mule demonstrated extremely poor handling characteristics.
The Model D featured front wheel drive and a transverse engine configuration. Model D testing and prototyping was very successful. Checker Cab also envisioned a significant expansion of production offerings, up to 12 models were to be manufactured. Unfortunately, despites the successful testing of two prototypes, logging over 200K test miles, the Model D was killed as it was determined that the front drive/transverse engine configuration was too costly for taxicab operators to maintain.
In 1946, Checker had lost one year of production, two models were developed and killed. Checker had to now rapidly bring a new car to market. Checker went back to a conventional design.
The Model A configuration was mated with the Dietrich designed body of the Model D. The resulting vehicle was called the Model A2. The body passenger compartment of the A2 is virtually identical to the Model D, the only difference being the length of the front clip, which was redesign to be configured for a front inline Continental 6-cylinder flathead engine and rear wheel drive configuration. The Checker A2 dimensions were consistent with most large US produced automobiles at a total length of 205.5 inches and the wheelbase 124 inches.
The Checker Cab Model A2 was introduced on December 15th 1947 and went into full production in January of 1948. By 1948, the newest Checkers serving customers was over eight years old! Initial production was focused on placing new cabs in service. Any plans for expanded product lines was put on hold.
Later in the year, August of 1948 Checker introduced another model, the A3. Called a pleasure car, this automobile was Checker’s first official entry into the non-taxi market, a car that could be sold into the “Black Car” limo markets.
A deluxe version of the A2, the A3 sported a bench front seat and more chrome The Checker A3 was equipped with a rear trunk. This was the first time Checker had offered a trunk as standard equipment. Production record published in Automotive News records 1948 production at 4458 units and 1465 units in 1948 and 1949 respectively. Based on all current information, there appears to be only one surviving Checker Model in existence,
I have owned the 1949 Checker for about 8 years. I purchased after seeing it in an ad on Craig’s List back in 2008. Flew out to Oklahoma City, picked up a U-Haul and hauled it back to Illinois. 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 being a Checker pleasure car, not a A2 taxicab, it is clear that the Checker was 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’s 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 local body shop: Naperville Collision. All door windows have been replace 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 need 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 and what was repaired on this writers 1950 Checker Model A2.
I recently acquired an A10 Superba with a flathead Continental engine, that engine will be placed in the A3. A junk A2 will be used to source of a missing radiator. Narragansett Electrical is in the process of building a wire harness. The chassis is very solid, so luckily, no major repairs are required. If all goes well, the A3 will be running by the end of Summer. 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.
The car is currently being painted a solid khaki color and will not be restored as a taxicab. It will be run for a couple seasons as a pleasure cars and may ultimately be converted to a taxicab. That said, painting Khaki will allow for an easy conversion to two tone maroon or green to create a NYC Bell Transportation or National (Parmalee) taxicab.
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