One year ago today Michael Ruse posted the following in the ICTA Facebook page “My good friend Heidi sent me pics of these Checkers That just arrived at her husband’s salvage yard in Lawrence Massachusetts. Knowing I was a taxi enthusiast she asked me if I had any interest in them or parts. I’ve attached the two pictures she sent – And contact info If anyone is interested. It’s a total mystery where these things came from with the exception of the yellow one – So I’m not sure what the story is with them, where they were from, or how on earth they ended up in a salvage yard in Lawrence Massachusetts.”
Thus, began a quest to save as many parts and Checkers as possible. Most Checkers are well aware of challenges sourcing Checker parts, presented on our Facebook page for all to see, ICTA members were shocked that 40 Checkers were being dump in a crushing yard. Checker Motors Cars of Haverhill, Mass. dumped the 40 Checkers with little fanfare. No notifications to any of the well known Checker clubs, the dumping made national news via the Hemmings Motor News web blog.
Writer Daniel Strohl documented the event on October 4th 2018. In his blog, Checker Motor Cars Steve Contarino was quoted in the blog, according to Contarino ““We’re deleting parts cars that are too far gone for restoration,”
Strohl went and wrote “The Checkers’ appearance last month at 495 Auto Salvagers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, however, set off a firestorm among Checker enthusiasts and restorers, who — like many other owners of orphan cars — rely on a dwindling stock of unrestorable cars for parts to maintain, repair, and restore their cars. “It is a big deal,” said Checker collector John Weinhoeft, noting that the disposal of the cars has triggered much speculation among the Checker community.”
Most troubling to many Checker fans was the fact that many of the Checker did indeed appear to be restorable. For this simple reason, the ICTA launch a rescue effort lead by ICTA member Daniel Smith. This writer was lucky enough to be part of the effort and did save several cars from crushing. Heres an update on just one of the so called unrestored vehicle. The restoration has been started and is moving alone at a rapid pace. Most surprising is how nice the saved Checker actually is, extremely restorable, this car is turning into one of the lowest costing Checker projects every executed by this writer.
Essentially two Checker wagons were purchased. One good wagon and one distressed wagon. The distressed wagon was purchased solely for the front clip. The distressed wagon was a 1960 model year and sported the rare tall fenders, straight across bumpers and starburst grille.
The clip was removed and the distressed wagon was crushed after Daniel Smith removed all decent parts. The salvageable wagon and front clip were shipped to Ohio. Once in Ohio all body panels were removed and stripped of paint in my driveway. The rear fenders were sent out to a body shop.
The fender repairs were completed at the low cost of $300.00! The body has been painted, like all of my Checkers with Rustolium, total cost $100.00. A used windshield was procured from Ben Merkel for the low cost of $100.00 as well. New Old Stock door panels have been added to the interior. This week the car will be sent to the shop to get the Chevrolet 327 in running order.
Once running, we’ll tackle the seat upholstery and weld in sheet metal into the front floors. Once completed, the so called unrestorable wagon will become my official Checker trailer puller.
Checker Motors cars has apparently left the Checker hobby, and there are fewer parts sources for the Checker collector. In total about 10 Checker cars were saved from the Lawrence yard. Thanks to all who supported the project. To the folks who think, we made too much fuss or created a three ring circus, to bad for you.
For more information about the ICTA’s effort of saving the Lawrence Checkers, check out these blogs and videos.
Link to the Hemmings blog