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Netflix Stars: Trio of Checkers

If ever you wanted to start your own cab company using vintage cars, this is the auction you’ve been looking for!  For sale here on eBay in Staten Island, NY, is a collection of three Checker Marathons that were used in filming a Netflix show. The auction is said to include a 1977, ’78 and ’81, but I’d be hard-pressed to tell you which is which. With a Buy-It-Now price of $6,500, this could be a great opportunity to get into the taxi business.

Checker Motors Corporation manufactured the Marathon from 1961 to 1982.  While the cars were available for purchase by consumers, they’re best known for being the model of choice for many taxi companies due to their durability, spaciousness and ease of repair. Imagine how much easier a fender-bender is to fix with bolt-on rear quarter panels!  During its 21 years in production, the Marathon changed very little, usually only enough to remain compliant with changing safety and emissions regulations or to adapt to changes in parts availability from suppliers.  After production of the Marathon stopped, Checker went on to manufacture parts for the big-three US automakers until 2009, so it’s entirely possible that many of us are driving something today that’s part-Checker.

The seller says these three cars were used in a recent Netflix show filming, although he doesn’t say which.  Thanks to my two-year-old daughter, I’ve only watched Moana recently, but perhaps a more culturally-aware reader will be able to identify the show.  The seller also says that the cars are mostly complete on the outside, but they don’t have engines.  While that may sound like a deal-breaker, remember that these cars were likely equipped originally with 350ci small-block Chevy engines, so sourcing replacements shouldn’t be difficult.

I rarely see Marathons at the car shows I attend, so I’m not sure there’s a huge interest in restoring these cars.  Unfortunately, vehicles built for work often don’t become desirable as collectibles, and before you know it, they’ve become nearly extinct.  One could restore an old Marathon to its original state and have an uncommon classic car, or drop in a potent Chevy small-block and have an even more uncommon hot-rod.  With this three-for-one sale, the buyer could build one of each and still have one left for parts.



    These cars came equipped with chevy inline 6 engines

    Like 3
    • Jeff

      From around 64 on, you could get the entry level 6s or 8s — 230 and 250 l6, 283, 327, 350, 305, 267 Vis, etc. as they were available in contemporary Chevys.

      They also offered the terrible GM diesels, Chysler 440s for a few months, some propane options, etc.

      Like 2
  2. Dirk

    While out cruising, the Taxi Driver misjudged a curve and drove his cab into the wall dividing the houses of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith and a Mr. and Mrs. Ball.
    Thankfully, he was pulled out by the Smiths.

    Sorry. It’s the only taxi joke I know.

    Looks like a nice deal if you like these neat old cars. I drove one from Florida to NYC once. Great ride.

    Like 18
  3. mallthus

    The 1980 would have come with a GM 90-degree 3.8l V6 or a 267 SBC.

    Like 3
  4. SAM61

    You’d have my attention if they had been driven by Marilu Henner/Taxi.

    Like 9
  5. Francisco

    Rumor has it Sir Stirling Moss rode in one of these the last time he visited NY.

    Like 4
  6. Howard A Member

    “Taxi Driver” with a very young Robert DeNiro. Originally, the Checker came with a Continental in line 6, and Perkins diesels for those 3rd world countries. The Checker was really a hodge-podge of many makes. AMC radiators, Ford front suspension, and of course, GM motors. In it’s 21 year run, aside from bumpers, it remained unchanged.

    Like 2
    • Poppapork

      DeNiro wasnt very young in Taxi driver, he was mid 30ties with several movies under his belt and an Academy Award for portraying young Corleone in the God Father part II.

      Like 3
  7. JunkFixer

    All are model A11 taxi cabs. As per the listed VINs, the ’81 car was originally equipped with the 3.8L/231CI GM corporate V6, the ’77 and ’78 were both originally equipped with the 4.1L/250CI Chevy inline 6. This would be in keeping with taxi tradition, as cab companies generally chose the smallest engines available.

    Not that this matters one bit. Each Marathon was designed and constructed with the idea that the drivetrains were disposable. It’s likely that each of these cars wore out several engines and transmissions during their service life.

    Like 4
  8. David Miraglia

    Nice short drive from Brooklyn. would probably get their in less than a half an hour. Could restart my parents cab company.

    Like 2
  9. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    The problems associated with running a taxi company in New York city is not the cost of the vehicle. You need to possess something known as a “Medallion”, a special medal that is affixed permanently to the body of the limo. They can be sold as a commodity, but because the city only allows a certain number of Medallions to be created, the purchase price of a single medallion is currently over $100,000.

    From a recent “New York Post” article:
    “At a recent auction in Queens, 46 medallions were reportedly sold for an average price of $186,000 each. The winning bidder was a Connecticut-based hedge fund, MGPE, which is expected to lease the medallions to a fleet owner.”

    The highest price ever paid for a medallion was $1.3 million, but that was before Uber & Lyft entered the competition. Because the city has allowed Uber & Lyft to operate without medallions, the Taxicab associations are suing the city over the loss of value for medallions.

    Due to the high cost of medallions, ALL NYC yellow taxicabs are run literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just like the 24 hours race at LeMans, drivers come in to the company facilities and trade off the car to another shift driver, so many taxis don’t get the engine shut off except for oil changes & repairs.

    A running joke is that the one part on a NYC taxi that never wears out is the starter motor!

    Like 3
    • Chebby Staff

      That NY Post quote highlights a key problem: used to be, a cab driver bought his medallion and basically owned his own business. With two medallions he had an employee, three and he could stop driving, manage his drivers and enjoy having “made it”, the American dream, with the medallions as valuable assets to sell in his retirement. Now medallions are being bought by hedge funds in Connecticut, and drivers are expendable wage slaves. Lyft and Uber took a big chunk out of the taxi mafia’s profitability, but they are not any better for employees. In fact they refuse to acknowledge them, they are “independent contractors”, and as disposable as the tissues they provide with their own money to the riders in the back seat. It’s a race to the bottom.

      Like 1
  10. Mitch Ross Member

    Marathons were the non taxi versions of these cars the A series was the taxi version. I’m pretty sure I know the seller of these cars. Good guy who also has an early’60s Suprerba with a 3 on the tree

  11. kinase

    Would make awesome Uber or Lyft drivers, though probably only for older customers.

    Like 1
  12. Russ

    “but perhaps a more culturally-aware reader will be able to identify the show”

    Yes, I know the show. This taxi cab is featured in Daredevil Season 2, Episode 4. The main character hails a cab which happens to be this 8D37. There are a couple of scenes where the camera deliberately has the entire taxi cab in frame for the viewer.

    In one of these scenes, I Google searched “8D37” as this tag is easily visible for the viewer. One of the google hits led to this site and here I am!

    Hope this helped!

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