Have you ever wondered how these rare Checker taxis survived?  Well in many ways as Checker owners we are very lucky that the leadership of Checker Motors Corporation felt that there was some historic importance in saving these fine purpose built taxis.  Again, we as collectors are also fortunate that despite exiting automobile production in 1982, CMC continued on as an automotive parts supplier and continued to foster their interest in cherishing the corporate history of Checker.

Rod Walton, the assistant to CMC CEO David Markin wrote an article for the CCCofA back in the Spring of 1995 titled  “One Of The Good Old Boys Comes Home”.  In the article he recounts how CMC had purchased in August of 1994 a rare 1936 Model Y Taxi.

According to Walton’s story, CMC executive Steve Wilson was contacted by a gentlemen named F. W. Roe of Bay City, Texas in 1988 requesting help in restoring a 1936 Checker Model Y.  Over the course of many phone calls and several years later, Steve Wilson was able to convince Mr. Roe to sell the Model Y to CMC.  According to Rod Walton “ We really didn’t have much interest until the Checker line went down and decided that it would be nice to have the car for our museum”, the museum being the Kalamazoo Checker Cab Services showroom.

According to Walton’s article.  The Model Y was originally used in Chicago as a cab and then migrated to Miltona, Minnesota.  Mr. Roe purchased the Model Y from Edward Suckow in 1964.  Mr. Suckow had purchased three Model Y’s, from Suckow, one of the three was eventually turned into a pickup, a fate that many rare Checker have endured.  Ultimately restoring the Model Y, the two other Model Y’s were scrapped for metal leaving only one complete Checker Model Y left in the world.


36 Model Y

The proud driver of a NYC Checker Model Y operated by Yellow Cab Co. note the reference to theAir-N-Lite window.

A little history on the Model Y, Checker began development of a new taxicab, the Model Y in 1934. It was the third offering in the evolution of the 1928 Model K and quite striking in appearance, with many style cues reminiscent of its new corporate cousin, the Auburn, albeit an industrial version. The Model Y also served as a platform for many new Checker concepts to be utilized for the next 50 years.

The long wheelbase version could be purchased in 6- and 8-door variations and also offered with an integrated body trunk, a first in the automotive industry.  This configuration marking the first mass produced car with a three box design, years ahead of 47 Studebaker and 49 Ford post-war offerings.


Parmalee Checker Model Y with three box design. Photo circa 1946



Parmalee Checker Model Y six door. A Checker Cab Manufacturing division, Parmalee’s corporate roots dated back to 1816

Other features included a multi-position adjustable driver seat and glass windows in the roof that passengers would love when sightseeing in major cities. Looks alone were not the only similarities to Auburn; the Model Y utilized the Lycoming 148hp inline GFD 8, the same engine used in the Auburn 850, although later in 1936 there was the option of a 6-cylinder Continental engine. This taxicab would be produced until 1940, in 1940 CMC introduced the Model A.

The lone surviving Checker Model Y was placed on loan at the Gilmore Museum where it remains today.  After the CMC closure in 2010, the Model Y was donated to the Gilmore Museum by David Markin.  Also at the museum is the 1923 Checker Model H, the last 1982 Checker Model A11 produced  and the Bantom Checker WWII Jeep.  Again as Checker fans, we are all very lucky the David Markin and Steve Wilson preserved Checker automotive history.


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