Several blogs ago we discussed the Aerobus, produced from 1961 through 1974, the Aerobus was essentially a Checker wagon on steroids. Available in 6 and 8 door configuration these mammoths shuttled passengers to and from airports and hotels until the gas crisis of 1973 forced operators to look for other more efficient options in moving people from point A to point B.
In 1975-1976 Checker started to look into new options too, the Aerobus being cancelled did not stop demand, many operators looked to Checker to come up with a replacement model. The second generation Aerobus was officially called the Aerobus 15. The prototype looked like any other post 1958 Checker and like the Aerobus, it had eight doors, but there is a major difference from the first generation Aerobus.
According to form CMC Plant General Manager and Head of Engineering John Logan: A year after the Checker wagon & the Aerobus was cancelled, John Love, VP of CMC, stated in a staff meeting one morning, “we need a 15 passenger Aerobus”. No one commented, except yours truly. I said “why don’t we build one?”. This caught David’s (CEO David Markin) attention and he asked, how are we going to do that? I explained we can build a 8 door Aerobus with a standard rear end with the extended, 9 inch rear door and export auxiliary jump seats. After some discussion, David says, Build one. I with help of some key union people built a prototype. David approved it and we built 46 more that year and 60 the next year.
The Aerobus 15 was designed based off of a long wheel base A12E platform, not a A12W wagon platform. From an overall size perspective, the Aerobus 15 is slightly larger than th original Aerobus, but the extra foot in length allowed for three additional passenger capacity for the new Aerobus. The Aerobus 15 was technically a more efficient vehicles from a passenger cost standpoint, the new Aerobus could carry more passengers with marginal impact on gas mileage.
The increase in passenger capacity was possible by utilizing the long wheelbase sedan configuration. It allowed Checker to add an extra row of jump seats. On the downside, the use of the sedan based body did not have the same cargo space as the wagon based Aerobus but extra space could be leveraged by adding a wooden cargo carrier on the roof.
The outward appearance is slightly different when compared to other Checkers. The wheel openings front and rear were modified to allow for truck type eight lug wheels. On the inside floors and interior walls were also modified to allow for the larger truck wheel clearance. As always with Checker, the Areobus 15 was a specialty vehicle as accordingly production numbers would be low, sixty were produced for 1976 and 47 units were produced for 1977, the last year of production.
Survival rates are presumed to be low as these vehicles were put into commercial service. Today these monster Checkers are highly sought after in the collector car and limo market. The Aerobus 15 is the ultimate party wagon with room for an entire wedding or tailgating party.
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I have an earlier Checker Aerobus from my father. He revitalized one to do gigs later in life. You can see it at the website posted (https://www.facebook.com/carsonparks/posts/10204993681666056) or, if that doesn’t allow outside access, do a Google Image Search for Carson Parks Checker and it’s the first couple of images (when I did the search). It has piano keys down the side. Love that car!
I read this 3 times before noticing there is text hidden in the white margin at the bottom of each photo.
An other interesting fact about the A!2E 8 prototype, the engineering dept. decided the trunk space would not hold luggage for 14 or 15 people. The completed bus was sent over experimental where they built & installed a roof rack to hold all the luggage. I rounded up 15 office employees telling them to all bring in a bag of cloths the next AM .After the luggage was loaded , the 15 folks in the car, with the doors closed, guess what ,the doors would not open, all that weight had made the frame sag. We all had a good laugh. We reinforced the frame & that did the trick..One of the stories no one wants repeated JRL.
Thanks John for the added color, great to have the guy who made the car tell the story
We have a local restaurant that has a Checker to shuttle folks home,in case they’ve had too much drink.They also have a Dodge.