2019 was a very evnetful year in the Checker Cab hobby. Several events, the loss of old friends and disrupters and a mass dumping of Checkers highlighted the past year. This end of year blog will present both the highlights and low points.
ICTA Members & Checker Cabs at Das Awkscht Fescht 2018
For 55 years, Das Awkscht Fescht has been a summer tradition for all ages. Offering three fun-packed days in the great outdoors, it’s been a perfect way for families to celebrate summer and see some of the finest antique cars from the east coast. Members of the ICTA have been participating in this event for a least 20 years!
The godfather of all Checker clubs Don McHenry first started attending Das Awkscht pulling his antique show car with his family Checker back in the 70’s. Purchased new in 1961, by the 1980’s Don’s trailer pulling Superba wagon ultimately became a show car too!
This past August ICTA members celebrated the 55th annual Das Awkscht Fescht event, five Checkers made it to the event, a pretty good showing for a regional event, four cars from the ICTA and one from the CCCofA.
Christian Hutter arrived first as always around 7:30 before the gates opened. This writer was also on hand with my 1950 Checker Model A4. For me personally it was very exciting to display at Macungie for the first time. Both cars entered the field together at about 8:05. Thirty minutes later we were joined by ICTA members Marjorie and Bruce Uhrich who made the drive from Philadelphia in their stunning 1956 Checker Model A8 Standard. The best part of their arrival was directing the old 1956 Model A8 Standard in green and yellow livery next to the 1950 Model A4 in like green and yellow livery! Of course Bruce placed the vintage taxi stand sign between both cars.
Shortly after the Uhrich’s arrival Jim Rogers & Nicole Rogers arrived with their family in their classic NYC A11. Best described as war torn, the Rogers A11 is always a crowd pleaser. In tow were the Roger’s two boys, it’s great to see youngsters attending Checker events. The future of the Checker hobby needs to be passed on to a new generation.
ICTA Members Make The Southwest Checker Show a Success!
Hats off to ICTA member Daniel Smith, for transporting his fleet of Checker Cabs to the first Annual Southwest Checker Cab Cruise-In this weekend. The show benefited The Disabled American Veterans Chapter 16 in Prescott Arizona
Dan Smith somehow managed to bring three Checkers, can you imagine the logisics! Accompanying Dan was his light metallic blue Marathon. Many members in the ICTA will remember that this is the car that ICTA member Bill Crawford saved from the crusher last year. Thankfully Bill was able to hook Dan up and the car was saved. Dan has done a great job bringing the car back to presentable condition, to the disappointment of the rat family living in the Checker.
Dan also showcased his yellow Tijuana taxi. A southwest show would not be a success without at least one Tijuana taxi! Recently acquired again Dan has done a great job making the car show ready. Dan’s showcase car was the now famous Kaela car.
Checker Meet Up At The Giving Tree Orchards and Event Barn & Put-In -Bay
This past August a group of Checker’s gathered in Put-in-Bay, Ohio for great get together. Hosted by Dave Kniffen, Checker fans had a great time for this first time event, as usual the event brought new and old friends together. The group gathered at Dave’s event center, The Giving Tree Orchards and Event Barn, for meet and greet, show off their Checkers and dine on a BBQ dinner.
According to Dave the Giving Tree Orchards and Barn “is a barn that we transformed into a reception hall for our rustic New Year’s Eve Wedding. We had so much fun doing this, and feel we have a unique gift to share with other people that we decided to rent this out for weddings, receptions, anniversary, birthday or graduation parties”
Dave and his family entertained long time Checker fan Zandra and Tim Bower, who pulled in with their spectacular 1982 Checker Winkoff. Also attending was Rick and Kathy Lucius entertain all with their massive multi colored themed Checker Aerobus.
Former CCCofA President Dick Thomas
In 2018, we lost long time Checker fan and former CCCofA acting President Dick Thomas. Dick was quite a character. You will not find too many guys like Dick, a devout car guy and Checker fan, he applied a strong educational background to his hobby, both in design and scale modeling
Dick took over the presidency of the Checker Car Club of America at a very difficult time, after the passing of long time president Steve Wilson. Ultimately, Dick was instrumental in keeping the club on its proper footing. Dick was one of key leaders to develop a board structure for the CCCofA to insure that the club continued forward.
An avid Checker fan, years earlier Dick designed a new look for the Checker Marathon, utilizing fiberglass components and other off the shelf automotive parts. Conceived in the late 70’s the car, called the Checker Summit never made it beyond the early design phases. Dick did build one prototype and pitched the idea to Checker Motor Corp., the project was passed on and conventional Checker production continued until 1982.
Back in the 80’s Dick developed a series of scaled Checker models and as a small cottage industry manufacturer, sold his Checker models all over the world. You could always count on Dick to present a large inventory on display in the back of his Aerobus at the various Checker shows he organized. Today these same models are highly sought after by Checker fans.
The Passing of a Checker Disruptor
George Lazslo entered the Checker hobby in 2011. George made news across the country over a five week period, driving his classic car from San Francisco to New York. Following the trip George publish a book, Viral Road Diaries documenting the Checker fun. The book chronicled in words and photos the cross-country road trip in his newly acquired yellow 1973 Checker Aerobus. Well received in the Checker fan base, the book published over 150 color photos taken in 16 states. In 2013 George joined our club (now known as the ICTA) and was an active participant on our Facebook page for over a year, but George had bigger plans.
George would later organized one of the biggest Checker shows in history, the NYC show of 2014. Fresh off his successful NYC show, George now had a new mission, he dreamed of creating a new Checker fan based experience, he called it the Worldwide Checker Community.
In July of 2014 George developed and documented his vision, George wanted to create, grow and maintain a worldwide Checker enthusiast community that would provide multiple means for community interaction which took advantage of popular electronic methods. Additionally, George was clear that governance must be set up based on rules and guidelines unrelated to control by any one individual.
At the time George had little interest in the lesson’s learned regarding our seven years of experience on Facebook, or the development of past Checker websites. This would lead to challenges for the ICTA members who were working with him on his new internet vision.
One primary difference was in the ideas as to how the future digital Checker fan experience would be marketed. The primary difference was between push and pull marketing concepts related to how Checker fans/consumers would be approached. In push marketing, the idea is to promote products by pushing them onto people. On the other hand, in pull marketing, the idea is to establish a loyal following and draw consumers to the products. The differences are significant, the ICTA has been very successful utilizing a push approach.
The ICTA believed in a push approach requiring significant development of content along with actively pushing that content across the internet and other venues. George wanted a pull approach, requiring Checker fans to come to a website or Facebook page to create content on their own accord in one big Checker community. Initially we supported George, but as the vision was developed, certain philosophical aspects of George’s vision proved to be an obstacle, we knew it would not work. At that time and still today, the ICTA operates the largest Facebook Checker experience and it was free to all.
The ICTA continued to worked with George, until in late 2014, it became clear that George wanted to take over the ICTA Facebook page. Additionally, George believed that his vision would be funded by paid membership. It was clear that George was not going to compromise, so we parted ways on the development of his vision. No longer fitting into George’s plans proved very challenging for the next two years.
In 2015 George created a competing Checker Facebook group, Youtube channel and a Checker website. Upon completion of the new venues, George exited the ICTA. Ironically, what George created was totally controlled by one individual, George, a total contradiction to his vision.
George was not a Checker expert or historian, so he needed other Checker fans to create content for him, but they never came in large numbers. A record keeper by trade, most of the content George created was lists, maps and charts of data. By the end of 2016 George would focus on a new project.
by 2017, George led a litigation team in an attempt to seek an emergency injunction in Federal Court to shut down our club, this website and our Facebook page which had been in operation since 2008. George would lobby Checker fans for two years arguing that the benefits of a paid club outweighed the ICTA free experience. Still a relative newcomer to the Checker hobby, George and the team of disruptors were relentless.
George believed and promoted the idea that paid club members could get discounts on Checker parts from Checker Motor Cars in Haverhill, Mass. Checker Motor Sales, entered the Checker hobby in 2014, and quickly established a reputation for selling Checker parts at over inflated prices. This alliance left much to be desired. Thankfully, George and his colleagues failed in their attempt to shut down this club via a Emergency Injunction and our 1000 members still enjoy the free Checker hobby experience.
George’s web site had not been updated in over six months and recently he stopped posting on Facebook, It was pretty clear something was wrong. George passed away this week after a six month battle with Cancer.
George was quoted in the Kalamazoo Gazette in 2011 regarding Checkers as follows, “My original profession was as a records manager and archivist, so I’m interested in the history part of it,” with this in mind this tribute to George is written. George indeed had a significant impact on the Checker hobby, for better or for worse, he certainly was a man on a mission. He had strong opinions and certainly did not hold back. he came into the hobby like a lion in 2011 and exited quietly in 2018. Our condolences go out to the Lazslo family,
Scam or Real Attempt, the New Checker?
Speaking of Checker Motor Cars, in early October 2015 we all heard the news that a new Checker was going to be produced. Two models, a 6 door sedan and a El Camino inspired pickup. Hemmings Motor News reported the Adamson Industries “plans to build prototypes starting early next year (2016) and get into full production in 2018. He also intends to keep the Checker restoration business in operation even after production of the two new models begins.”
Checker Motor Cars posted in Facebook a photograph of an El Camino/Checker prototype under construction. In the post it was claimed that the car would not be ready for the Kalamazoo show of 2017. Well by the end of 2018 it appears that the new Checker will never be produced. The ICTA was on hand when the one sole prototype was crushed in Lawrence, Mass.
It also appears that the restoration shop is now closed. All signage was removed and the entire fleet of Checker parts cars and restoration sources were dumped with the pickup prototype this past September. There has been no activity on the Checker Motor Cars Facebook page since September.
Here is a link to the crushing of the pickup prototype.
The Biggest Checker Event in 2018
Perhaps the biggest Checker event in 2018 was the actual destruction of 30 plus Checkers at 495 Auto Salvagers in Lawrence, Mass. Thankfully ICTA members were able to save about ten cars and secured a significant amount of Checker parts. Although we all hated to see the fallout of the Checker Motor Cars dumping, at least we were able to save some of the vehicles. A big thank you goes out to Daniel Smith. The following video full depicts all the units, activity and crushing.
A lot of activity for 2018, we look forward to an exciting 2019. Stay tuned for our planned events for 2019, we might have a Kalamazoo surprise
We want to personally thank the members who stood strong in difficult times and in the end stuck with us in 2018. In doing so, we still have the most creative and dynamic Checker Cab experience on the internet. At just short of 1000 Facebook members we have created more dialog and fellowship than any other Checker club out there. A worldly club, while other claim to span the globe, the ICTA truly does span the world. The fan base can be found in Kalamazoo, Chicago, New York, Finland and the UK. The demographics truly indicate the impact that the Checker had on the taxicab and orphan cab hobby.
We continue to add content to the ICTA’s Checker Taxi Stand channel on YouTube. Specifically, thanks to Connie Wilson Powers for sharing the many videos created by her father Steve Wilson and John Logan. The video channel has allowed Checker fans to experience Checker fun across the globe, over a span of time that covers twenty years of Checker events. The videos loaded on our channel have tens of thousands of YouTube views, the other clubs, no so much. Our channel has proven to be a great means of generating interest in Checkers.
Thanks to Dan Strohl and Hemmings Motor News. Dan has been instrumental in promoting the ICTA blogs on the Hemmings Motor News website. Every time our blogs get posted in Hemmings, we expand our reach in the old car hobby field. More importantly, every time our blogs gets picked up by Hemmings, its an indicator that we are generating interesting and relevant content that will be appreciated by more than just Checker fans. We’re impacting the entire old car hobby!
So, so long 2018 Happy New Year 2019!!!!!