The picture at the top of this blog is of actor George Segal traveling in a Chicago Checker A11. The photo is a screenshot from the 1977 movie “Rollercoaster”. If you are a true Checker geek, there is something you may notice, something very unique about this picture. Can you see it?
Well, actor Segal is sitting far forward of the rear seat. Additionally, he is sitting straight behind the driver, if he was in a jump seat his body would be pivoting to the right side of the Checker and he probably would not be able to hang his arm out of the window over the door handle in a relaxed position, so what is it that makes this Checker different?
The answer: this Checker has the rear seat forward option. Introduced in the 1960, this option eliminated the standard jump seats found in Checker taxicabs and the rear seat sits far forward resulting in and expanded trunk capacity.
At the time Checker Motor touted the new design “this unique achievement in taxicab design is now available for those operators that desire a reduction in passenger area compartment without any sacrifice of exclusive features for passengers and driver comfort that are inherent in Checker products”.
The option was available right up to the end of production in 1982. Rare today, it’s hard to find surviving examples since the option was typically ordered for Taxicabs, but not A12 Marathons. As we are all aware, within the fleet of surviving Checkers, most are Marathon models sold into the retail consumer market. The survival rates for commercial taxicabs is very low, so finding actual rear seat forward taxis within the already small fleet of commercial Checker survivors is very challenging.
That said, there are two survivors within the ranks of the Internet Checker Taxicab Archive, a 1963 owned by Emerson and Racheal Zentz and a 1982 owned by Michael Pincus. Emerson has kindly shared photos of his 63 so we can actually see the impact of moving the rear seat forward.
Called and option in reality, actual rear seat forward taxis used a different Checker sedan body. Quite frankly the rear seat forward is essentially another model, more than a mere option. Just like the Checker wagon or Aerobus, the rear seat forward actually used a body with its own and different part number.
Based on review of CMC Engineering Illustration documents we can see the real structural differences of the rear seat forward Checker. The floors stampings are significantly different, the rear floor pan sub assembly in made up of more stampings required to build out the enlarged trunk compartment. Additionally the three panels that make up that new compartment area sit in the area where the rear seat is usually positioned for regular Checkers. The floor pan was also modified with the addition of a forward seat support to cradle the seat cushion.
If you know of any other surviving Checker rear seat forward cars, please contact us via Facebook, we would like to build out a registry of rear seat forward Checkers.
Special thanks to Emerson Zentz and Michael Pincus for providing the pictures