Over the last couple of years Checker fans have had to deal with a dwindling supply of Checker parts, clearly this is a challenge for any Checker fan interested in keeping their Checkers on the road. From the period of 1982 thru 2005, the robust Checker aftermarket business flourished, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
In 1988 Checker Motors exited the parts business after most taxicab operators stopped using Checkers in regular service. Post 2000, the Checker parts landscaped started to change with a reduction of suppliers. Long time Checker collector Ben Merkel shut down Twilight Taxi in Ohio about 10 years ago. Additionally, Eric Lachmann and Bob Welsh also wound down their Checker parts business. There were other small suppliers who focused on certain specialized Checker parts, such as hood emblems, radios, or gauges, they too would start to disappear.
The exit of Ben Merkel, Lachmann and Welsh left one main supplier for the Checker community, Joe Pollard’s Checkerparts, Inc . All three gentlemen served the Checker community well, it was sad to see them exit the market, but when dealing with a limited supply of parts, it was to be expected. Joe stepped up and continued to serve the community.
In 2009 Checker Motors Corp. went bankrupt and closed its doors. As the factory was cleared, many new old stock parts became available on the market. Industrious Checker collector Todd Harroun was able to secure that large portion of that inventory. Harroun sold much of his stock to Joe Pollard.
In 2014 a new Checker parts business opened up in Haverhill, Mass. In brazen act, they trademarked the name Checker Motors Cars. One of their first courses of action, was to threaten litigation with most of the remaining Checker parts suppliers. That act pretty much drove all the smaller Checker supplier out of business. For those independents, their business was a hobby, who needs a hobby that generated lawyer letters.
Checker Motor Cars would gain national attention, press releases were issued to all the national and international news services announcing big news. Like P.T. Barnum, Checker Motor Cars, believed we were all suckers, and announced to the automotive world, that Checker Motor Cars would produced a new Checker, with production commencing in 2018! While Checker Motors Cars was showboating and making wild claims, Joe Pollard continued to serve the Checker community.
Joe Pollard operated a Checker salvage yard. A salvage yard is typically defined as a business of acquiring or owning salvage automobiles for resale in their entirety or as spare parts, rebuilding, or crushing. With that in mind, one has to understand that many of the cars parked out in the Mojave dessert at Joe’s place were already destroyed in a crashed before arriving at Checker Parts, Inc. Most of the cars Joe had in the Mojave, were purely parts cars for parts sourcing. Picked clean, these cars ultimately would go to a crusher. Essentially the fleet of cars was not viable from a restoration perspective.
A great video was produced in 2014 that showcased Joe Pollard and his collection of Checkers. Within the video, it was reported that Joe had 150 Checkers. Upon his death, Joe was down to about 40 parts cars and 10 restored or original Checkers.
Checker Motors Cars in Haverhill, Mass., on the other hand was essentially a restoration shop, over the course of four years, the organization restored 15 Checkers for resale. Over an approximate two year period 2015-2016, Checker Motor Cars purchased about 50 Checkers and parked them in the back of their shop in the New England weather to rot away. They never introduced an new Checker. It appears the whole effort was some kind of scam.
A year ago, this September, Checker Motor Cars unceremoniously dumped the majority of Checkers with a Lawrence, Mass crushing yard. It appears with that dumping they also exited the Checker parts and restoration business. Sadly, when Checker Motor Cars exited the business, they did not offer the backlot fleet to Checker collectors. Thankfully ICTA member Dan Smith stepped up to the plate and lead an ICTA club effort to salvage as many Checkers at the Lawrence crushing yard as possible.
That effort lead by Dan saved approximately 10 Checkers and built up a substantial stash of Checker parts for ICTA members. For those who don’t know Dan, Mr. Smith is a hardcore Checker fan. He has a significant fleet of Checkers that we showcased in this video below last June.
This writer can attest that Dan was pretty upset at the sight of Checkers being crushed in Lawrence, they mean a lot to him, Dan has a real Checker passion.. Dan was friends with Joe Pollard for well over 22 years, more than half of Dan’s life. He worked for Joe in various capacities for over 10 years, he knows Checkers. Earlier this week Dan announced the Joe’s passing in a Facebook post.. Dan wrote “I have purchased checker parts from Joe’s family, I am in the process of moving everything from California to Arizona. This is a couple months of a project. But checker parts will continue”
Joe’s health had been failing for the last several years. Thankfully Joe and Dan had been working on a transition plan. Joe death, has forced that plan to be accelerated.
We wish Dan the best of luck as he transitions the business from the Mojave dessert to Phoenix. It will be a costly operation to move the business, perhaps the biggest challenge for Dan right now is: the determination of what should be moved and what should be sold off quickly.
As Checker owners we all have the responsibility of keeping our Checkers on the road. It’s clear that in the future, in order to keep our Checkers running, we will have to be resourceful. Dan surely will serve us, but the supply of Checker parts is limited, so all Checker fans will have to think of other means of sourcing parts.
Perhaps the best solution is to buy a Checker parts car. Several ICTA members have started the process of building their own personal stash of Checkers. This writer has a garage filled with parts. bottom-line, start getting creative and think about alternatives. We only have one Checker supplier now. Good luck Dan.