Car collectors love to tell stories about phantom cars. The rare car that we have heard about and desired. Legendary stories of unique automobiles that should’ve been built or stories about the special order car with features that could have been ordered but no proof exists that it was ever manufactured.
We Checker fans have our own phantom Checkers we would love to find sitting in some barn or warehouse. The factory stock Checker hot rod! Four on the floor, big V8 and bucket seats! Sure the company from Kalamazoo, could have made one, but how would Checker make it, what features would it have
How about a big V8? GM introduced the 327 cu in V8, introduced in 1962, it had a bore of 4 in and a stroke of 3.25 in (82.55 mm). Power ranged from 210 to 375 hp depending on the choice of carburetor or fuel injection, camshaft, cylinder heads, pistons and intake manifold. In 1964, the Duntov solid lifter cam versions produced 365 hp dubbed L-76 version, and 375 hp for the fuel injected L-84 respectively, making the L-84 the most powerful naturally aspirated, single-cam, production small block V8 until the appearance of the 385 hp Generation III LS6 in 2001.
In 1965 Checker started to use a variety of General Motors engines. By 1968, CMC offered a ranged of V8s including the L-76 327 cu in V8 High Performance engine with the four barrel carburetor, see the CMC Engineering Illustration below.
Ok, so we have a big V8 how about four on the floor. What does this phantom hot rod have for shifting. How about a Hurst shifter? Produced by Hurst Performance, Hurst manufactured and marketed products for enhancing the performance of autos, most notably for muscle cars. Hurst was also an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) supplier for auto manufacturers and provided services or components for numerous muscle car models by AMC, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motor on the AMX, Mustang, Barracuda and Camaro respectively.
Did Checker have access to Hurst shifters? Deep in the archives, we have found an illustration of a Hurst shifter. Amazingly, it would appear that there may have been a chance to buy a Checker with a high performance V8 with four on the floor! Please view the diagram below.
Now we know you could order a big high performance V8 and four on the floor what about bucket seats? The very first Checker made had one single bucket seat! From 1922 to 1954 virtually every Checker was equipped with one bucket. In 1957 the Checker Adapt-o-mobile was also equipped with a single bucket seat. Years later Checker offered a single bucket seat for the UPS package cars produced to Canada, so it’s quite clear that Checker did produced bucket seats.
We have found the Checker Engineering Illustration for the late sixties bucket seat. Upon viewing the illustration it appears to be a universal seat, left and right the same. I would imagine that this seat would use two adjusters comparable to the adjusted on the bench seat. Given the flat floor, I would assuming installing would be just a matter of drilling extra holes.
We have also found photos of an actual bucket seat set up in a 1968 Checker A12w! So we can confirmed that bucket seats were indeed available.
So there you have it, it was possible to order a true Checker hot rod (muscle car). A light weight Checker sedan at less than 4000 LBS, equipped with a high performance V8 with four barrel carbs, a Hurst shifters and bucket seats!
The bid question now, did CMC make any or is it just a phantom? We put the question to former Plant Manager John Logan, his response:
“Engineering might have installed a Hurst shifter in a special built car after it came off the line, but I don’t think so”
He went on to say
“We never built a Checker with a Hurst option in my almost 40 years at Checker.“ ‘
Well we can dream, can’t we?
Checker Drag Car Photo by Joshua Samuel