A big congratulations goes out to Bob Ferdon for the completion and first drive of a former Clearwater NYC Taxi Company Marathon A12! The car looks fantastic and more importantly, it was completed in less than a year.
Bob entered the hobby last July when he started the process of recreating a New York taxi for one of his clients. His client wanted Bob to build a tribute taxicab in honor of the client’s father who drove a Checker in New York City back in the mid 1960’s. Robert was ready for the challenge to help out his friend.
Bob’s story encapsulates the drama that seems to complicate the Checker Cab hobby. New to Checker culture, he experienced some challenges to being a Checker fan in 2018. Job one was to learn more about Checkers. He joined two different Checker clubs via Facebook. His time was limited in both groups as he was quickly kicked out. Apparently he asked two many questions and posted ICTA blogs in the other Facebook groups, the other clubs response to his participation was his removal from their groups. No explanation, just the swift boot. We would assume Bob was feeling pretty alone.
Watching the dialog from the sideline we certainly understood and could empathize with Robert, the ICTA reached out to Bob and invited him to the ICTA and we’re very happy we did. Bob has been a very active member of our ICTA Facebook page. He posts in the group regularly: the process of his restoration and helpful parts sourcing information.
In the late Summer of 2018, Robert purchased a Checker Marathon model A12 from the NYC Taxi Company in Clearwater, Florida. As many Checker fans are aware, the entire fleet is up for sale, as the company is exiting the Taxicab and Limo business. Many of the cars require significant rust repair, and the Checker Robert purchased was no exception. While the other clubs and their members were publicly bashing the entire Clearwater fleet, Bob rose to the challenge and purchased car number 20.
Checkers rust, we all know that, Bob had enough confidence in his and his buddy Chris Barone’s metal working skills that the Clearwater Checkers could be restored. He did not buy into bashings that was demonstrated by other Checker fans in the other Checker groups. The members of the ICTA were more than happy to cheer Bob on as he posted progress and help in his journey.
According to Bob “99% of this work was done by the talented Chris Barone of Chris Resto Mods. He does not have the time to do the research and source the parts. That is where I help out.”
The Checker hobby was faced with another challenge last year, when one Checker hobbiest dumped 40 Checkers at a Lawrence, Mass. auto crusher. The vehicles were not offered to the Checker community at large, they were dumped in secret to avoid the obvious embarrassment of the failed new Checker project. At the time the ICTA was the only club that recognized the urgent nature of saving Checker parts that would be crushed into oblivion if no one acted. Meanwhile the other clubs attacked the ICTA efforts and claimed we were making a “fuss”.
Bob stepped up and participated in the saving of many Checker parts. Bob made the drive from New Jersey to Massachusetts and was able to pickup a pair of jump seats for his restoration. Bob along with Daniel Smith and others performed some heavy lifting to save parts for other Checker enthusiasts to enjoy.
By November of 2018 Bob was busy dismantling the Checker A12. Doors, fenders, hoods and the decked, disassembled, Bob started cutting out the rust. All rust removed Bob liberally started to coat solid metal with Por-15 rust protection.
Fully disassembled and coated, then the fun began, welding in new metal. Straight flat metal was welded into the floor. Bob and his team then began fabrication of detail areas. One area that needed significant attention was the rain drip rails. According Bob “I wanted to be more involved in this one and took some weekends and vacation time to learn and do some fabrication. The floors came first but the real challenge was the front windshield frame. It took some time and test bends and yelling. Thank god is was only the top and I did not have to do the curves.personally took care of those areas and was soon ready for primer.”
By mid-winter the Checker was ready for paint and other details. Bob posed questions to the ICTA Facebook page: what color yellow should it be painted? Blackwalls versus whitewalls? Decals and Checker Special logo?
Significant process was made in early 2019, by March the interior was installed. Bob opted for a custom interior. Being a tribute car and based on A12 Marathon, there was no need to restore as sparse and plain A11 taxicab, the restoration was trimmed out in style.
In the April time frame Robert was tending to detail “jewelry” items, bumper and trim. A new reproduction grille was added to the front end. Bumpers and guards were rechromed to show car quality. One bumper was procured from the ICTA stash of Lawrence parts. We were more than happy to pitch in to the restoration effort.
The only point of issue was windshield rubber. It took multiple attempts, but ultimately Bob got it right. In an effort to help the Checker community, Bob documented all the correct information and upgraded CMC engineering illustrations using graphics found in the ICTA archive.
Now its June and we can happily report that Robert is now showcasing the car. In less than one year, Bob has joined the Checker hobby, restored a Checker and help Checker owners overall with his efforts to save parts and document Checker sources. According to Robert “Both Chris and I have “big” personalities and banged heads a lot. This is Chris’s restoration. This has been a fun learning project and I’ve met some great people. Thanks to Joe Fay for all of your advice and some parts. A HUGE shout out to Dan Smith! A great Checker dude who is always there to help and advice.”