Uusikaupunki, is a medium sized city in Finland, population about 15,000 citizens.  According to Wikipedia the municipality is unilingually Finnish. Both its Finnish and Swedish names translate literally to “New Town”.

The town of Uusikaupunki was founded as a town with the rights of commerce in 1617    By decree,  Gustav II Adolf in 1721, the signed the Peace of Nystad in Uusikaupunki, ending the The Great Northern War between Sweden and Russia.   During the Crimean War of 1853, Uusikaupunki was attacked by the French and British Navy in 1855 during the Aland War.  Uusikaupunki was an important port for commerce and fishing, and up to the latter half of the 20th century, it retained an important ship-building industry.  The city has a long and rich history.

Today, Uusikaupunki is the home of Valmet Automotive, a third party contract automotive production company, producing cars and vehicles for brands such as Mercedes Benz.  The company was founded in 1968 as Saab-Valmet for manufacturing Saab cars.  As of June 2017, Valmet has been assembling Mercedes A Class and GLC cars.

An automotive town, one would imagine that when it came to sourcing taxicabs, makes like Mercedes,  Volvo and Saab, might be the first choice of taxicab operators. Believe it or not, Checkers were once popular in Uusikaupunki!

ICTA member Juha Kaitanen sent photographic evidence of the use of Checker. According to Juha “Mr. Aaro Lehtonen has published a small history book about taxis and taxi drivers in that town. Also the taxi drivers association has collected photos of the taxis used in Uusikaupunki. Enclosed phtos are from yhay archve. The total number of Checkers in Uusikaupunki was four.”

The pictured Checkers A2 migrated to Uusikaupunki from Helsinki.  The Helsinki taxicabs were originally imported to Finland in preparation for the 1952 Helsinki Olympic. The imported Checkers were not new, but well worn Chicago Checker Cabs.   Significant repairs were required to put them into service in Helsinki.   Apparently once service was complete in Helsinki the Checker saw a third run of service in the small fishing town.

Research indicates that only six Checkers were still registered in an operational in 1960. One could only imagine how many miles were put on the imported Checkers. With initial service in Chicago, secondary service in Helsinki and third service in outlaying Finland municipalities like Uusikaupunki.  Just goes to show the durability of Checkers, extremely tough taxicabs!




Chicago Checkers being lined up for their trip to Helsinki

Loading onto the Prince Wilhelm

Apparently Finland now has a Checker Museum!!!! The Finland Checker Club is one of the largest Checker Clubs in the World.  In 2017, the Club restred one of the Chicago Checkers!  Torsti Luntama (left), Raili Luntama, Hannu Kyttänen and Leena Kilpelä, daughter of Rail Checker driver Eero Kilpelä, were key figures at the opening of the Checker Museum in Lahnajärvi. HANNU BRUSILA