This time it was the cab just standing there and me cruising on by and, as if hailed, I quickly checked my stride and veered closer. It’s been a while since I’ve stood next to a Checker and as always I’m struck by how large they really are, sort of like a regular old car (that means a ’50’s car to most people of my generation) but at 115% of actual size. The Stay-Puft of cars, perhaps. However, the reality of this Checker has unfortunately come to an end.
This particular one hails from the twilight of the Marathon’s, uh, marathon-like length of production. Built and put into service into 1976 it carries the “A11″ designation, which at that time did mean it was for taxi duty. Specifically, taxi duty with 120″ wheelbase as opposed to the A11E (129” wheelbase) and A12 (Civilian version).
It’s likely been a long time since it carried any paying passengers, and has certainly been around the block a few times. And that block. And also that block. And every other block you might name too. But just like you can’t keep a good man down, so it appears to be with Checkers, they just keep coming back for more no matter what happens. Well, except for this time, I’m afraid there’s usually no coming back from this place. At least not in the same form.
Oh, what stories this front end could likely tell, I do wonder if these Checkers were used around here for taxi duty back in the day, last year I saw another in what seemed to be the same exterior color so perhaps one of the longer-term Denver natives might know (Skinner, Stern, what say you?) The color is Dupont 96581 and seems to be the same as a color that Jeep used in the 1963-64 time frame.
If it is from around here, I don’t know that I would have chosen the 250cu.in. I-6 when there was a V8 option. In this era the engines were Chevys and this one would have had an output of either 105 or 110hp, presumably the California cars would have had the lower output version. I suppose it’s the same engine the Junkyard Nova from last year had in it (I will take any opportunity to mention that Nova, but I have no idea why I am so smitten with it)
The build tag in the back right corner of the engine bay tells us all kinds of interesting stuff. First that it’s the A11 version. Then the 0426 is the order number. The 6 is for 1976 and the 2113 is the sequential build number. It has the Turbo Hydramatic 400 transmission, the 3.31:1 rear axle, Power front disc brakes and steering, along with Cab Gray interior paint and a Dark Gray Vinyl interior. And the exterior paint at the bottom which is represented here in the engine bay without fading.
The inside tells a slightly different story, although the gray vinyl is present on the doors and I assume the gray paint is for the dashboard and other ancillary bits of metalwork (not really sure). The seats have obviously been reupholstered (quite well too), and this one at first glance looks like a JohnnyCab from the past to the future taxi without a steering wheel. Just like all cars will be starting in…oh, never mind.
Someone tried to make off with the fuel gauge but only managed to mangle the backing plate. At least we have a clear view of things without a wheel or gear lever in the way.
Here’s the speedometer. And yes I did grab it for my collection (of things that my heirs will not want when I’m gone). I took the fuel gauge too as it was the same size, so the largest fuel gauge I’ve ever seen in a car, I suppose it’s a vital gauge in a cab! That 90mph speedometer is interesting too, I’d seen the 100mph and 120mph versions, but not a 90, I suppose the that changed for the newer models, the typeface used for the numbers changed as well and some had the km/h markings too. I love the checker motif though but am perplexed that a company that produces taxicabs as their main reason for existing only used a five-figure odometer. You’d think a six figure or even a seven-figure one would be useful, for marketing as well as for once actually in real life.
Zooming back out gives a better overview of the dash again (and out, we can see that the poor thing has to stare at a Neon for the next couple of months). In true cabbie fashion there’s a pack of smokes in the passenger footwell. But above that is something for our resident A/C Meister Tom Halter to look at.
A Frostemp 400 arrangement, to keep the paying fares cool on a hot day. We are a whole mile closer to the sun here than many other places and you’d better believe it makes a difference in the summer. Anything with the word Frost in the name is worth an instant 5 degree reduction in perceived temperature, even if it’s not turned on. And above that unit is a Checker-branded radio which if it had the knobs would have come home with me as well.
But it’s a Checker, nobody gives a crap about the front seat, here’s what you’re paying for! The back seat in all its splendor. With windows galore to look out of.
And more room to stretch those legs than in anything else. Well, anything else besides the long wheelbase version of this car.
Here’s the VIN declaring that this car came to be in May of 1976, mere months shy of its country’s 200th birthday. Built in Kalamazoo, Michigan and it and its brethren were dispatched far and wide across that country.
This capacities chart may be of interest to some as well.
This one has those curious high-mounted lamps on the fenders too. And if you somehow miss those as a following driver, then you won’t miss that massive rear bumper.
The trunk isn’t small, but visually a bit of a letdown, it doesn’t look quite as large as I envisioned it. The wheel and tire don’t help that but are necessary. The shiny paint is nice to see though.
Hmm, it gets the point across, but too bad it’s not all there.
But on the trunk, it’s all gone, yet all there. That’s much better! Thanks for riding this one out to the end, and we’ll have more of these junkyard finds the next time you need a lift.