Last Friday afternoon, I once again attended the central meeting of Five Club, Israel’s premier classic cars’ club, in which an end-of- restoration of a Checker taxi was celebrated. But wait, it’s not the Yellow Cab version you’d usually think of.
But more on that Checker later. As I’ve already elaborated about the Five Club in previous posts, let’s just start with plenty of photos from the meeting- and this tasty Riviera:
Older BIG sedans were also present, such as this impressive 1962 Bonneville:
This 1960 Impala was even more impressive, evident from above and below photos.
Compere this with the Riviera’s interior above. What a difference 13 years make, not to mention nowadays car’s interiors.
Yet older US sedans were also present, both Plymouths. One Cranbrook and one Special Deluxe.
Cutting down in size now; this Dart with obviously non-related wheels was one of the smaller US cars at the meeting, as was the Rambler and the Lark Daytona bellow.
Two Falcons were also present at the meeting, one was this lovely Sprint.
The other was the subject of PN’s post about its trip to Eilat, Israel’s most southern city. As you can see, the Falcon made it back, and it looks gorgeous.
Shifting now to Pony cars, above photos show two Mustangs- one fastback, one Grande.
Of course, Pony cars means Firebirds, of which there were at least seven, mostly Trans-Ams. Two of which were even turbos:
Yes, that is one of the Firebird Pace Car Replicas, imported from the US recently.
But my heart was set on this, a lonely 1969 Firebird with fat tires. If I’m pressed, I could even go for that paint scheme.
In these meetings there’s always a Corvette to be found, as exemplified with this C4 convertible.
Cadillacs. There were plenty of those around, mostly circa 1980s vintage but also older, as evident from the photo at the head of this post and bellow:
I almost dismissed this squared off shape as another Cadillac, until I noticed the grill. See another Olds below:
Finishing off the US Classics 1980s parade, this New Yorker is one rare car in Israel. Never sold here officially, this car was imported when new privately, as the 00 at the end of the license plate testifies.
Jeeps were always strong in Israel, and this CJ-5 is no exception. It was immaculately restored and looked great- maybe better than when it was new.
One of my favorites at the meeting was this step-side C/10. I love this generation, and would gladly drive off with this one (but later change the wheels, stance and color scheme of it. OK, maybe I wouldn’t drive with it after all).
And note again the difference between the 1978 C/10 to its older 1959 Apache forefather on the left.
Ending the US part of the post (suns the Checker), is this eccentricity- an SSK Roadster replica dubbed Gazelle, by Classic Motor Carriages. Only recently has PN wrote about the Tiffany, another creation by this now-defunct company. Read about it and decide for yourself which is better (worse?).
Now I’ll head on to Europe, starting with German classics:
This concludes the German representatives of the meeting, unless you want to count the Sierra below:
Back in the 1980s the highway patrol in Israel used Sierras, hence the blue light, put on just for show.
Now lets go for British cars:
Majestic, aren’t they? From a world that is no more, as are these Cortina and Anglia below:
Those TR7 and TR8 finish off the British collection. Now for the rest of the Europeans:
Most of these classics are widely recognizable, but maybe this one isn’t- it’s a Simca 1000 Coupé, bodied by Bertone. How different it is from the original Simca 1000 built underneath.
Yes, it’s the Israeli Sabra roadster. One day I’ll get to writing a post about this and its relative, the Susita.
Here is the sole Japanese representative at the meeting, a Subaru Leone DL so popular in Israel in its day.
This meeting point also serves bikers, some arrive with classic bikes, four of which I photographed for your pleasure:
Once again, see the difference between an early and late model GS. The big 1200 looks almost like a spaceship compared to its forefather.
Now we come to the star of the show, the Checker Marathon. Of course, the car and especially its Yellow Cab taxi livery needs no introduction (although you can read about it in this very elaborate PN post). In Israel, the Marathon also served as a taxi, joining various other taxis such as Coronado and DeSoto. But rather than serving passengers in towns (although some did), the Checkers were mostly used as transportation between major cities, for those who had deep pockets and wouldn’t ride the bus. They were far more convenient, faster and comfortable than any bus of the day.
One surprise at the event was that the family who restored the Checker, brought not only the featured Marathon but another, recently imported 1973 car to be restored later:
As you can see, this is the regular, short wheel base Marathon you all know from the streets of New York. These SWB Checkers were actually rare in Israel, serving mostly in cities but would also venture out of city limits- at their own risk. This was because back in the early 1960s, cab drivers in Tel Aviv managed to influence law-makers to pass a regulation preventing other taxi drivers from outside the city to come and work in it, claiming they were losing work to these “outsiders”.
So Israel was divided to eight taxi areas and cab drivers were instructed to serve passengers only within their designated area. There was even a specific paint scheme assigned to each area, as all cabs were adorned by a thick painted line surrounding the cab at the base of the windows, with a different color to each area- North was blue, Haifa was red, Jerusalem was white, Tel Aviv was yellow and so on. That regulation was cancelled later, as it turned out that there were not enough taxis in Tel Aviv to serve passengers…
Naturally, inter-city cabs were permitted to serve passengers both in-between and within cities. Our featured longer wheel base (what is known as “Marathon Town Custom”), 1969 Marathon was restored to such a taxi:
As you can see, this was the paint scheme that inter-city taxis wore, a black paint with a striped line.
They even managed to obtain a classic cab meter, although I’m not sure how old it really is, i.e., in line with the Marathon’s vintage.
Much more comfortable than a 1960s bus, that’s for sure.
They really did a great job restoring it to its taxi version, including the mandatory signs and the roof-mounted luggage rack. Yes, the paint used to be satin and not gloss black originally.
Among the gathered crowd, many were genuinely exited at the sight of this Marathon- after all, anyone over 55 will surely remember these taxis hard at work. Even I, at 45, remember the last ex-taxis Checkers driving around during the 1980s.
I’ll finish off with this video, showing some more classics and the atmosphere at the event: