Header Photo by Katherine Bassett
Yes, it’s true a 1983 Checker was produced off-line at the Checker Kalamazoo plant. The car started out as “body in white” that was stored in the engineering unit. The body was used for various engineering studies during regular Checker production. In 1983, CMC still had a large supply of Checker OEM inventory still in stock, enough to support Checker’s customer base of taxicab operators.
As late as March of 1983, Checker was still logistically shipping out new Checkers from the plant (see news item below). After CMC made their announcement in the Spring of 1982, that Checker was going to stop producing taxicab, CMC was flooded with requests to make one more Checker.
It was possible to make more Checkers, as Checker remained open for third party stamping. The plant was still standing and the employee base was still staffed. Checker kept the majority of the body molds on site right up to 2009 closure.
That said, there were inventory short falls that require some tricks, if production would continue. Checker no longer had an inventory of A12E long doors in inventory. For this reason, the case of the 1983 Checker, it utilized the shorter A11 rear doors for the 83 Checker, a center insert created by Kalamazoo body fabricators was required to fill the gap between the doors.
Why was it made? As stated earlier, Checker was still receiving requests to produce Checker. The story goes that a friend of Checker CEO/Owner David Markin, Neil Rosenstein pestered Markin into building one final unit. The vehicle was serial plated with a numbered noted as a 1983, so there is no doubt that the car is indeed the last Checker produced by CMC. The car was presented to Rosenstein in May of 1983, almost a full year after regular Checker production.
There are some issues with the vin plate, the plate states a manufacture date of 1/83 with a model of A-12 not A12e. A second interesting data point is that the actual VIN indicates that the car is production number #000003, which raises the question as to whether two other cars were assembled? It is possible, Checker leadership continued to drive their Checkers right up till the closure in 2009, Several Checker were still sitting in the showroom with virtually no miles on the odometer, some twenty years after production stop. Pretty amazing!
In terms of production, the car was built in the CMC Cab Services building in Kalamazoo. Cab Services served CMC taxicab operators until about 1990. Many other Checker projects were executed in that building as late as 2002. This writer was witnessed to many ongoing projects in 2000 and 2002.
The 1983 Checker still existed in 2009 as evidenced by the header photo, taken at a Checker show about ten years ago. Its where abouts today are unknown.
I enjoy reading these “beyond production ” car stories. It reminds me of the very last Corvair body built in GM’S Fisher Body plant in Willow Run. The last 1969 Corvair came off the line on Friday, Serial #6000, May 14th, (and its fate is unknown to this day), but an additional body was built which was never finished. Today this body, VIN XXXX, resides in the Corvair Heritage Museum and could have been VIN #6001 if it was given a drivetrain. It’s a red Monza 2 door hardtop.