From time to time we like to present the Checker Cab survivors, car that span the period of 1922 through 1958, the introduction of the Superba. For all intensive most Checkers were sold into the taxicab trade as purpose built taxicab, not retail consumer cars. These vehicles were effectively run into the ground and recycled once they were no longer commercially viable as taxicabs. For this reason Checker built before 1958 have a very low survival rate.
Over the last ten years, the ICTA has tracked Checkers survivors, here’s the complete list with photographic evidence of 20’s era survivors. We are aware of several other older Checkers not on this list, but as we have not seen pictures, so until we have photos, the cars will not be registered.
The granddaddy of Checker survivors in the 1923 Checker Model H at the Gilmore Museum. The Checker Model H was owned by Checker Motors Corp. until 2009. After the bankruptcy and closure, the Markin family donated the vehicle to the Gilmore at Hickory Corners, Michigan . Checker purchased the Model H in the early 60’s. Forty plus years old when bought back, Checker had to restore this vehicle.
Back in 1922 when Morris Markin started manufacturing Checker, he relied on the Leyland Goodspeed to transfer all production from Chicago/Jolliet to Kalamazoo. Goodspeed’s assistant was a man named Jim Stout. Stout would work at Checker Cab for his entire professional career. When Checker needed to restore the Model H, who did they call? None other than Jim Stout.
In early 1960’s Stout was in charge of CMC’s special projects department in Kalamazoo. When the Model H was brought to Jim’s department was in charge of restoration and would bring his extensive Checker experience to the project. The Model H would serve as a showcase for Checker at auto shows across the country. It was also used as a backdrop at Checker special events. What better guy to restore the Model H, but the guy who built them in the twenties!
The second 20’s era survivor is another Checker Model H. In this case the Checker resides on the west coast owned by a Long Beach, Ca. taxi supply company. The cab is rarely displayed at car shows so little in known about its current condition. That said, we do know a little about its history.
Over the years many movie and film companies have own Checkers for film work, this Model H appears to a perfect example of Checkers used in film work. This Checker can be found in many films from the 1960’s. The picture in the header is from the 1967 film Thoroughly Modern Millie starring Julie Andrews. The tell tale sign that this is the same car is the headlight treatment. Checker Model H’s were equipped with headlamps mounted at the midpoint of the grille, centered with the front fenders. Note that the movie car and the Long Beach car have headlamps mounted above the grille center point and above the front fenders. No doubt this is the same car.
The last known 20’s era survivor is a 1927 Model G. The Model G was offered for 1927 along with the Model F. Although both the Model G and Model F were still utilizing the Partin-Palmer foundation, balloon tires gave the Model G a new, taller stance. Two new bodies were offered for the Model G, a limousine sedan and a landaulet taxicab. The four-cylinder Buda engine was again standard equipment, with a six-cylinder Buda engine available with the 127-inch wheelbase.
Little is known about this survivor, it first came on the Checker radar about ten years ago. When on the market, it appeared to be a pickup truck conversion, which sadly limited its ability to be restored as a taxi.
That said more recent pictures of the sole survivor have turned up and in one photo it appears that the rear section has been repatriated with the Model G. The photo also appears to indicate that the center divider is intact. Mounted to the center divider one can see the cab rear window and it appears to be from the original roof section of the Model G. Rear doors and the roof are still missing
Many Checker survivors appear to have survived due to a taxicab after life on the farm. During the depression era, it was popular to convert used taxicabs to tractor for farm service. The Checker had a sturdy chassis and was powered by Buda or Continental engines consistent with other farm implements. It was very economical for a farmer to add a Checker to his farm fleet.
Well there you have it, only three 20’s era survivors. Pretty darn low. In the next blog, we’ll update the list of 30’s era Checker survivors.