Spotted: Rare Restored Checker
One of the most iconic taxis of all time still cruising the streets of Atlanta
I have now managed to spot just my second ever vehicle by the Checker Motors Corporation of Kalamazoo, Michigan after someone cruised around in their restored Taxicab.
One of the most iconic taxis of all time, the Taxicab, also known as the Marathon, was sold by Checker almost unchanged on the outside from 1961 to 1981. It's incredibly difficult to pinpoint the exact year of a Marathon and/or Taxicab but the more plain painted steel bumpers were introduced in 1974 so it's safe to say this is a late run example.
Almost all remaining Checkers are late run examples as they were almost exclusively sold to fleet buyers and thus had a high rate of attrition. I wrote a post on this exact subject some time back.
Did you know that there is only one 1939-1941 Checker Model 39A left in existence? Like most taxis, they led hard lives racking up ridiculous mileage on rough city streets only to be unceremoniously scrapped when something too expensive broke. It wasn't ...
This is a remarkably complete restoration. Restoring any Checker is not a very appealing financial prospect but someone must have poured oodles of cash into this one. The details are all there down to the rooftop taxi light. Checker was a taxi company before it was a taxi builder so the Checker branding makes some sense here.
Just check out those rates! $1 for the first 1/9 of a mile then 10¢ for each additional 1/9 of a mile. Seems like a deal in current stagflato-bucks but I wonder how affordable that was in 1975 stagflato-dollars? Hmm, so $5 for 5 miles listed turns to $25 in today bucks so yeah still expensive.
This is just the second Checker I've seen, the previous spot being a Crazy Taxi themed Taxicab at a car show. Many Marathons, the name for the civilian version, were dressed up to look like Taxicabs as the real Taxicabs were all driven several hundred thousand miles on rough city streets and are therefore usually in far poorer condition. This specific Checker appears to have started off life as a Taxicab as it has no exterior model badging, though it could have been removed during the restoration.
Depending on where it started out life as a taxi, it might one of several different flavors of jump seats or none at all.
I do love seeing such unloved vehicles out and about and clearly well cared for. They're not exactly pretty but they sure are characterful. The closest modern comparison I can think of is the Mobility Ventures MV-1 for incredibly sturdy mostly-fleet vehicles that were built by a small independent company for a very specific use-case. I'm sure those will also become nearly impossible to find in the future.