Spotted: Rare Restored Checker

One of the most iconic taxis of all time still cruising the streets of Atlanta

12w ago

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.

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.

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Comments (9)

  • They are cool, we have one in Marin, just one as far as I know.

      2 months ago
    • Perhaps that is also rented out as a movie prop.

      Also, what happened to the rear quarter windows on the one I saw?

        2 months ago
  • Ahh, Kalamazoo's finest.

      2 months ago
    • The Checker corporation was remarkably stable and consistently profitable over its long history. They made some incredibly durable vehicles but they often rank pretty low on the desirability scale, sadly.

        2 months ago
  • Guess you just have to be old enough and from the New York area (New Jersey in my case) to not only remember seeing thousands of them in midtown Manhattan, but actually riding in several as a younger lad!

      2 months ago
    • Someday I'll say the same thing about those Nissan NV200 NY taxis. Though I didn't ever ride in one.

        2 months ago
  • Ah, this is the one you were talking about Saturday? Nice!

    Kinda odd seeing this in in green and pale yellow after mostly seeing them either in b&w movies or in the more traditional bright yellow.

      2 months ago
    • Yeah, most people would probably go for the iconic yellow but I like this better. Green and yellow is also an iconic taxi livery. It's a very cheerful livery and I love that it's a Checker branded livery as well.

        2 months ago