For the last four years this writer’s Checker Cab Model A8-DS has been housed at the National Auto and Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana. Back in 2016 I had been a planning a process to move from Chicago and downsize, so when the opportunity popped up to display the Checker at NATMUS, I jumped on it.
If you have moved across country and downsized, you’ll surely understand the many challenges one faces trying to move 60 years of accumulated stuff. Putting the Checker on display was a great way to knock down the complexities of the move.
The move was accomplished in 2018, but as always, life gets in the way and the Checker A8 remained on display, waiting to be reunited with its family and Checker garage mates.
Now that I am in Toledo the downsizing has stopped and a new process of acquiring stuff again has started. I recently bought another home in Toledo. Why do I need another house? I don’t, but I do need the garages that came with the house! With the lingering warm weather, now was the time to bring the Checker to its new Toledo home have the entire fleet of vehicles in one place.
The car is now back home and will be enjoyed throughout the holiday season. The Checker was in the shop for about two weeks, the folks at Heatherdown Auto did a great job of getting the Checker back into roadable condition. The car required brake work, minor tuning, a new battery and a coolant flush. All titling was performed today and the car is now registered in Ohio!.
If you’re looking at the photos you’ll notice that the Checker Model A8-DS does not look like a regular Checker Marathon. The A8-DS is actually the predecessor of the Checker Marathon. Built between 1956 and 1958, it’s a rare one. As a matter of fact, it’s one of three known A8 survivors and the only DS model.
This Checker was ordered by Yellow Cab of Oakland, California in the fall of 1956 as a field test unit for potential future Checker service at Yellow. The results of the test were poor, judged as not being able to handle steep San Francisco hills, the car was relocated to company car service.
Yellow Cab executive Bill Rothchild (1918-2018) purchased the car when Westgate Corporation took over Yellow Cab’s west coast operations in 1962. Mr. Rothchild kept the Checker for the next 30 years as his personal car. A volunteer Fireman, Rothchild used the car for emergency fire service. Originally painted navy blue the car is currently restored in Chicago Checker livery.
I purchased the car for Checker collector Ben Merkel in 1999. Extremely solid and rust free, the A8 only needed a cosmetic restoration. A Chevy 350 V8 (that did not run) was replaced with a Continetal OHV 6 cylinder engine.
I drove the car about twenty miles today. I really forgot how pleasurable this unit is. It has served me well, it been driven all over the country. I look forward to many more years of fun with family and friends.