This writer is currently in the process of restoring a 1949 Checker Model A3 limo. If all goes well it will be running by the end of 2018. Unfortunately it would have been restored by now, if not for the fact that $43,000 was spent last year fighting a Federal Injunction attempt by another club, the lawsuit shifted funds away from the restoration.
As one would expect, that would turn most people away from the Checker hobby, as I am sure was the original plan of the litigators. For some time now I have been telling many that the A3 is the last Checker I would ever restore. Well that has all changed, I have a new project.
Many in our club may be familiar Greg Reynold and Chris Lindahl, both are long time members of the ICTA and are also police officers with the Chicago Police Department. Both ICTA members are active in the police car hobby. Mr. Reynolds in particular is widely known as a police car historian, police car photographer and community organizer.
It’s been an honor knowing all the folks in the police car hobby for the last twenty years. True friends, the crew has always watched out for each other. For years the guys helped me with my other projects including the restoration of a 1964 Studebaker Marshal police car.
Over the last several years Sgt. Reynolds has been very persistent is challenging me to create a Checker squad car. As documented in the ICTA article Checker Police Cars, Just The Facts Ma’am published last November, Checker indeed produced squad cars and there is proof of at least one Chicago Checker Squad car. Recently the perfect opportunity turned up to take on the Chicago challenge.
Chicago Checker Squad Car 603 appears to be a 1960 Checker A9 or A10. It’s painted in the standard Chicago safety blue and egg shell white. As discussed on the November blog, Checker police cars were typically just standard Checker A11 with heavy duty electrical. The challenge of creating a Squad 603 clone is that it is based on an A9 or A10. As many Checker fans are well aware, these are extremely rare.
One could use a new Checker to start a clone project, but many features would be wrong. Car 603 sports the taller front fenders, straight across bumpers, and starburst grille with a larger steel valence. It would be assumed that the Chicago squad would also have an A9 dashboard, not the standard A10 Marathon dash. Additionally Car 603 has the rare small wheel opening fenders. A true clone would indeed be a challenge to build and be truly accurate.
Well as luck would have it, the perfect Checker became available to serve as a source for the Chicago clone project. As some may recall the Clearwater Florida Checker taxicab fleet is up for sale. We featured an article about John DiDomizio is selling his entire fleet. Included in John’s fleet is a 1961 Superba, the perfect clone candidate. Equipped with the flat head Continental, the very solid car also has the standard A10 dashboard, not the higher end Marathon dash.
The only thing that is missing is the small rear wheel opening fenders. No problem, this writer has a pair in the crawl space of my house. John made a very attractive deal, that also included a 1963 Continental OVHD engine. Perfect, so the flathead will go into the Model A3 and the OVHD Conny will go into the clone car. A deal that could not be refused!
Despite having a really bad 2017, 2018 is going to be great thanks to people like Greg Reynolds, Chris Lindahl and John DiDomizio. Thanks to Doug Klauck too for sending some additional photos of the recent purchase. Now its time to pick up and get the car home. The project has already started, the rear fenders and an NOS trunk lid has been sent to the strippers paint removal.
Now what you do with a Checker squad car? There lots to do, specifically, many of the vintage police cars in Chicago are used for charity events to help Chicago Police Gold Star families. The header photo depicts a Chicago Police memorial event conducted every year at Soldier Field. The vintage squads are also typically used for parades and other events with the sole goal of promoting and honoring the men and women who protect all citizens. This past week both Greg and Chris displayed their squad cars at the Chicago Auto Show.
So while other clubs are panhandling for money, and still fighting old battles, this writer will hopefully be partnering with true friends honoring the people with the toughest jobs going, cops.