Years ago my mother-in-law was going through some items on a bookshelf and this Checker brochure emerged. It has since been on my bookshelf, also hidden from view, but some spring cleaning returned it from its dormancy. So it only seems right to share this little nugget.
My wife’s grandfather acquired this brochure from West End Motors located at 276 DeBaliviere Avenue in St. Louis. With this being the 40th Anniversary Checker, it means this brochure was printed in 1962.
A quick search shows an empty lot with a few trees at the address given for West End Motors. It was near Forest Park, the location of the 1903-04 World’s Fair, where a number of notable things happened, such as Dr. Pepper being introduced to a wider market and the 1904 Summer Olympics.
What you are seeing was all printed on one large piece of thick paper with a centerfold of sorts in the middle. Scanning such a document was a challenge.
This and the prior picture are the front of the centerfold (or perhaps 2/3 fold) area seen inside.
There is no mention of the taxi industry anywhere in this brochure. The picture seen here comes the closest to acknowledging company history when it says “billions of test miles in Checker fleets all over the world…”.
Obviously the intent of this brochure was to lure a retail buyer away from something typical and into purchasing a Checker. It may have worked to a degree as 1962 was Checker’s best year between 1960 and their ceasing automobile operations in 1982. While my Encyclopedia of American Cars does not give a breakout between retail and taxi production for all years, 1962 saw Checker selling 8,173 cars of all varieties.
For the few years of the given twenty-two year timeframe where private sales were disclosed, the peak private sales volume was 1,056 in 1966. At such a volume, any sale is an incremental sale for Checker.
Between this and the prior picture (the verbiage is split) it says Checker has “over 200 riding, styling, and mechanical improvements”. My question, and not to be mean about it, is over what period of time did these 200 changes occur?
This is on the rear side of the interior fold.
One interesting observation is Checker’s use of the word “limousine” throughout this brochure. This wasn’t a bad idea. If one wanted the roominess of a large sedan, with more visual restraint than found with a typical limousine, a Checker wasn’t a bad idea. It was certainly durable enough for nearly any type of use.
Checker would later become quite adept at exploiting niche markets, with the Medi-Car perhaps being the best example. This brochure does a good job of illustrating Checker’s early foray into finding these markets.
Whether it’s a product of its time or simply some deceptively good writing, this entire brochure conveys a sense of optimism while highlighting Checker’s distinctive and sometimes unique traits.
Part of the optimism, or perhaps my falling prey to the brochure sixty years later, is the variety of backgrounds Checker has used to feature their cars. Somehow, it all seems to work. But I’ve also been staring at this brochure for a while.
In particular, this wagon conveys a sense of dignified purpose.
Leaving no stone unturned, Checker brings up its advantages to European cars, with a testimonial seen here about how the ride comfort bests any of the biggies from across the pond.
On a different note, Checker touts their headroom for those over six feet in height. Being just under six feet in height, and having driven a small sampling of 1960s vintage cars, the statement about extra headroom in a Checker has me curious.
This portion of the brochure gives the best contrast between expectations of new car owners in the 1960s versus contemporary times.
In more testimonials, one owner suspects his Checker won’t need an engine overhaul for eight to ten years. Another is happy his Checker is running as good with 30,000 miles as it did when new. Not expecting overhauls within a decade and continued smooth running at modest mileage accumulation are almost givens today; any current manufacturer would likely cringe about receiving what is now faint praise.
Here is the rear cover where all the specifics can be found.
Most interesting is Checker having two available engines. With both were six-cylinder units of identical displacement sourced from Continental, one is a 141 gross horsepower overhead valve engine with the other is an 80 horsepower flathead engine. The overhead valve engine has an 18 ft-lb advantage in torque.
The options list is fascinating, covering the ground from an oil filter to an electric rear seat in the wagon.
A dozen different exterior colors were available but that doesn’t mean there was variety. Three shades of gray, two blues, and two greens compliment the typical black, beige, red, and white.
Part of me believes this brochure captures Checker’s best efforts. Their product wasn’t yet tremendously out of style, they were actively pursuing the retail market, and they were celebrating a milestone anniversary. I’m really happy my wife’s grandfather picked up this brochure so long ago.