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Hunka-Hunka! 60’s Checker Marathon Wagon

You should know while you are reading this that I have had a desire to own a Checker Marathon wagon since I was in high school — so if you are looking for an unbiased editorial opinion on this one you are totally out of luck. This screaming bargain of a tank-wagon is for sale here on craigslist and is located in Bristow, Oklahoma, a mere 1,147 miles away from me as I type. Phooey. Why is there angst in my writing voice? Because this hunka-hunka-burnin’-Americana is only $1,000 or best offer. That’s right. Chump change. Unfortunately, I’ll be out of the country this week.

I spent some time back here in a Checker Aerobus that was one of a pair used for inexpensive activity buses for small sports teams at my high school. There’s a lot of space. Sure, there’s some rust there but I’ve seen a lot worse on Checkers. The fact that the glass is even intact is amazing. Can’t you imagine this big bad behemoth buggin’ out of your driveway?

There’s a lot of room under there for pretty much whatever you want to put in. I think our shop class rebuilt Chevy small blocks for the Aerobuses. This is one car I would go the easy route with and swap in an LS engine and a modern overdrive transmission. It’s hard to believe something hit hard enough to actually dent that remaining overrider.

This is the current occupant of the engine compartment which I believe to be a Chevrolet-sourced inline six. But this car to me is screaming to be a restomod. And no, I would not leave the P-word paint, although the green/turquoise shade is pretty appealing. Give me air conditioning, some modernized suspension, a nice interior and set it up with air shocks for towing purposes. Heresy, I know! But this wicked wow-wagon deserves to be back on the road. Now where is that link to how to title an older car–ah, here it is. Hope it’s not out of date by now!


  1. canadainmarkseh

    What a beast for once the guy that hates rustina would leave it in place. But I’d also put in a modern big block. Transmission, brakes and steering. Something similar to that 96 caprice that’s posted. Put in a completely new interior and restore all the chrome. You’d have a true deralect. Now that would be a sleeper, and could you ever intimidate people in their small EV’s and econo boxes. And when your in getting groceries you sure wouldn’t need to worry about door dings in fact people would be leery about parking next to the old battle ship.

    Like 4
  2. Andrew not amember

    Just buy it and pick it up when you get back . Why not ? Unless the spouse disagrees . It is a great item . The majority (almost all ) people i have dealt with where great in this situation.

  3. Gvb

    That is a traverse head, I have never seen a Chevy in-line 6 with one. Does not mean they do not exist though.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      I think that the engine was made by Continental, not GM, which would mean that this example is pre-1965.

      I like it, especially as it’s a wagon.

      Like 4
  4. Oingo

    Who knows what engine that is but according to wiki the chebbie 230 inline 6 was used on the marathon from 65-68

  5. Dovi65

    I’ve wanted a Checker since .. I was in my teens. Any Checker would have satiated that craving, but an Aerobus, or wagon would really hit the mark. Back in the very late 1970s, a local family had a older Checker [in Hospital Green], very well kept. They swapped it off for a top-drawer Checker in Burgundy w/Black vinyl roof. Dang, was that a gorgeous piece of automotive art! I’d bet Mr/Mrs Adams still have that Burgundy Checker. Their son drove a 1965-67 GTO convertible to high school. The family has great taste in cars!

    Like 1
  6. Madmatt

    I imagine that these wagons are pretty scarce,
    but I would resto-mod the bejeezus out of it..! haha…
    It would make a great sedan delivery..,and
    you would be the only one,at any event…most likely..?
    This is really cool..,and the price..!..can’t hardly be better..?
    Maybe free…would be…but I see a great project there…well
    worth a $1,000 dollars,for parts alone.A modern S.U.V it should be,
    with all of the great styling,that it is known for,and modern luxuries,
    It would really stand out….man….I’m really “dreaming”now..!!LOL

    Like 2
  7. dweezilaz

    Loved these forever.

    When I was 14 I wrote to the Checker factory for more information and they sent a nice brochure and lots of information.

    I still have that packet.

    Me ? I’d leave that six in there. Or if it’s shot replace with a Chevy in line six or V6. Upgrade the brakes. Paint. Heavy duty vinyl for the seats and rubber for the floor in the spirit of the Checker’s long life and rugged construction.

    I always loved how these have detachable fenders at all four corners, like the Studebaker Lark [and my current ION].

    It’s not that big. Around 200″ long. About the size of a current Dodge Charger.

    A 66 full size Mercury was 220″. 1969 Full size Lincoln 224″. 69 Chrysler Newport: 224.7″.

    Like 1
  8. JunkFixer

    I think this appears to be a 1960 or early ’61 model. This 24 slot grille was eliminated for 1961-onwards on all except the Aerobus and export vehicles. ’61 and later had the 34 slot grille with the park/turn lamps moved to the fenders. And yes, that’s a Continental 226 engine under the hood.

    Like 1
    • Mountainwoodie

      You know waaaaaay too much about Checkers! Seek medical attention immediately :)

      Like 1
    • Will Fox

      I was thinking this Checker to be possibly a `59-60. Not sure about the number of grill slots, but the ‘star’ turn signals on each side look to be of that vintage. Either way, a very early and rare model!! I bet someone in the Checker Club snags this one!! They can’t have many of these in the club!! They were driven into the ground.

  9. chrlsful

    2 in my town (early 60s) growin up – owned by same family, but sedans.
    The wagon is the ultimate
    will last 4ever.
    Back-2-what-it-was inc dash, upholstery, motor.
    MAY B discs up frnt and OD auto…

    Like 1
  10. Keruth

    This has got to be >2.5t!
    Couldn’t afford the gas mileage today!
    Turbo Diesel and multi-speed trans, modern brakes, ya baby!
    Better ride than the COE box lab, lol.
    Glad it’s not close to me too!

    • George

      Approximately 3800-3900 pounds.

  11. PatrickM

    Looks like something from the 2005 New Orleans Ward 9 flood. Crush it!

  12. Kirk Hoffman

    That engine is a Continental FO-226! It is the overhead valve version of the F6-226 that was used in Checkers,Kaisers, Fraizers, and many farm and industrial engines. It is a good solid long lasting engine and the one I had in my ’64 Marathon got a solid 23 MPG all day long! Continental built lots of engines for Jeep too. I have a 230Cu.In. Overhead cam 6 cylinder Hemi! They called it the Tornado! I would love to have this FO engine if someone decides to go with a V8!

  13. George

    I also have a love for the Checker Wagons, and once went to buy a 6 door Aerobus. However it was missing a grill and bumper back in the pre-Internet days, so finding them would have been a chore.

    Just a couple of weeks ago, I saw that someone has an 8 door Aerobus in town that looks to be in good shape. Although I have not seen it being driven yet.

  14. George

    1965 is when they started using Chevy engines. It is also the first year they started offering a V8. They did a non-turbo 4 cylinder Perkins diesel as a one year only option in 1969.

  15. Mitchell Ross Member

    I had a bright red 1970 Marathon Wagon with a 327 Chevy in it. Loved that car, but when the fuel pump went, a shady mechanic told my 21 year old self that the engine was shot and I sold it for $400 in 1981. Saw it on the road as a Gipsy cab a week later and was real pissed. Once I learned mechanics, I knew exactly what the symptoms were.

  16. Joe Fay

    Love the wagon! Its rare, the ICTA estimates less than 100 survivors.

  17. Andrew Taylor

    The owner and I reached an agreement a few days ago on this Checker, and a pickup date was set. he called this AM wanting to go back on the agreement, because he got so many calls on it. he simply got impatient. I told him fine the deal was off. so its still available,. however, if strongly advise you sent the money and secure it quickly, because the ovner is flip flopping all over the place. I really wanted the checker, but i already have several Checkers, and I refuse to deal with anyone who dont keep their word and agreement. so good luck…the price is good, but the guy is shady, so pay him quickly, and take nothing at his word.

    • Joe Fay

      Now thats funny!!! Guy never learned about the term “tattle tale”. Grow up, he’s not selling you the car.

      • Andrew Taylor

        Just like that Medicar in larwence, you caused to get crushed,because of petty club politics and that 62 Superba from Cleawater fla you chopped all to pieces.Club politics, and peserving the cars be dammed. all this, and much more well documented to be used when its time. Keep writing!

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