As we all know, Checker Marathons are very unique vehicles. As owners, we all seek as much information of the inner workings or to learn about the various versions of a car that most people think were essentially the same from 1962 till end of production in 1982.
How about wheel covers? ICTA member Bruce Uhrich recently emailed with information hub caps. Bruce has done a great job of photographing the three wheel cover used by Checker for installation on the A11 and A12.
The first cap used was actually a modified version of the first caps introduced in 1956 for the Model A8. The A8 cap was essentially a disc with center bands. The larger outer band sported a Checker board ring and the center of the cap presented the Checker logo.
In 1958, the cap was modified, the Checkerboard band was removed and the center logo was reduced in size. The logo itself was a Checker shield, very similar to the Checker logo introduced for the model A2 in 1947.
For the introduction of the Checkers in the consumer car market in 1960, the Checker again received a new hubcap. The change was not significant, the cap was essentially the same cap issued in 1958, but it now sported a new Checker center emblem. The emblem also spelled out the initials C M C to reflect Checkers new corporate name. The logo on the wheel cover also matched the Checker wing emblem on the front of the hood and trunklid.
Several years later, Checker would introduce a new hubcap, to replace the 1960 caps. Again the change was not significant, but it was a change none the less. The new for 1967 cap had a new raised center. The cap is very attractive and very rare. Its rare because it was only used by Checker for one year.
A new cap would be introduced for 1968. Why would Checker use a new wheel cover design for only one year? While Checker was in the midst of designing the new cap for 1967, Studebaker was busy shutting down automotive production.
Checker was aggressively buying up much of Studebaker’s inventory while Studebaker was exited automobile production from 1964 till 1966. Many Checker parts are compatible with Studebaker, so its pretty clear that Morris Markin would be interested in securing parts cheap.
At the time Studebaker utilized a very attractive hubcap first introduce in the Lark in 1959. Checker was able to procure the same cap and utilize a center logo to replace the Studebaker “lazy S”.
The wheel covers were produced by the third party manufacturer: Rockwell. The same company that produced Rockwell taxi meters, perhaps someone at Rockwell realized that the hubcap they produced for Studebaker potentially could be used by someone other than Studebaker and connected the taxi meter dots to contact Checker. Clearly that would help Rockwell regain revenues lost by Studebaker shutting down automotive production if Rockwell could work a new deal to produce wheel covers for Checker. For 1966 Checker production of 5000 units was just shy of Studebaker production of about 6500 units.
Wheel covers are pretty mundane and many Checker owners will change out for mag or other custom wheels. That said for those who still run with hubcap, just remember, your wheel covers are just as interesting as your entire Checker. They too have a story.
The 1968-1982 wheel covers are still available from Joe Pollard at Checkerparts,com. Thanks to Studebaker International, the old tools and dies were secured from Rockwell and the Studebaker and Checker caps are again available on the market.
Wheel cover photos by Bruce Uhrich