Not A Taxi: 1976 Checker Marathon

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Most of us are of an age where we think “Taxi” when we think of a Checker sedan.  But Checker made there unique blend of space, reliability and retro visual design available to private individuals as well. This one is for sale here on eBay and is located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. While bidding is only just over $1,000 as I write, the reserve has not yet been met.

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I’ve heard Checkers described as everything from classic to ugly. Personally, I think they are oddball but very, very cool looking. Although the pictures aren’t very high quality, I think the car presents itself pretty well, and if you’ve been looking for one of these giant sedans, this might be just what you’ve been seeking.

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The seller tells us that one of the driver’s side fenders has some filler and that there is some rust on the side of the floor. Apart from that, it seems to be pretty solid, and might even reflect the 70,000 miles it supposedly has on it.

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The seller describes the interior as “immaculate,” and I agree. Of course, with vinyl tough enough to take on taxi duty, I would expect it to be long lasting. Interiors in these plain cars were very simple, and I would go so far as to say there’s a touch of understated elegance there.

 

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Under the hood, we have the ubiquitous 350 cubic inch Chevrolet small block V8; certainly one of the most common engines in history and with good reason. There’s also a beefy Turbo 400 transmission ready to handle the power the 350 puts out. It would be easy to soup up this combination with over the counter speed parts, but I don’t think it needs them. This isn’t a race car–it’s a Checker. Understated elegance, enough room to sit with a top hat on and leg room for NBA players is what this classic can deliver. Interested in making it yours?

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Comments

  1. Tirefriar

    I think this the first description of any Checker that I read which contained the phrase “understated elegance”…TWICE!! While I wouldn’t exactly call it that, the clean purposeful design does hold attraction to this BF reader.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      What can I say–I like the design :-) Thanks for the comment!

  2. Wayne

    IMO they look like a Nissan Cedric

  3. Blindmarc

    My father drive a cab for about 5 years, and I rode with him many times. Where we lived, most of these had a straight 6 in them.

  4. Howard A Member

    Checker,,,the generic car. One can’t dispute their quality. Probably logged BILLIONS of miles as taxi service. I thought most had the in line 6 as well. I think it says something about a person that wants a Checker as a daily driver. Just a good basic car with as little glitz as possible. I think I remember them being pretty expensive if you bought one in “civilian” dress, and were much cheaper if you bought 2 dozen.Wiki claims Checker never had a dealer network. Apparently, this car was a “hodge-podge” of many cars. Radiator-AMC Matador, engine, of course, GM, rear axle-Spicer, front lower A frame-’56 T-Bird(?) and front upper A frame-Lincoln. Guess it’s not so generic after all.

    • RayT Member

      Before Checker went to Chevrolet engines — the I-6 and V8 — they used Continental engines. IIRC, it was the same L-head “six” that powered Kaisers. And Case tractors.

      Not sure why, but I’ve always dug these cars. But they DO rust….

  5. JW

    Rode in a few of these in taxi dress over the years, what can I say but it will get you from point A to point B otherwise a plain jane car but then who buys one of these for any other reason.

  6. MSG Bob

    Elegant? Maybe, maybe not. Utilitarian, definitely. The last Checker I rode in had jump seats – we got 5 people in the back and all our luggage in the trunk.

  7. Coventrycat

    Classically Ugly – but cool nonetheless. One of the cars on my bucket list.

  8. JoeR

    Was this car originally yellow/gold/beige? The paint on the door jambs and engine compartment seem to say that it was something other than green.

  9. Van

    Can you say Uber

  10. Howard A Member

    Checker made a model called a “Medicab”. Not many were made, some say less than 100. It could haul a person on a gurney as shown. “Where to, buddy?” https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2593/3759373296_ceac43834a_b.jpg

  11. S Ryan

    Leaving the factory with I beams for bumpers. Brilliant.
    Where did that technology go?

  12. Bob C.

    Love these checkers. They were the sad end of an era in 1982. I remember the ad was No other car is built like Checker, so true with the outdated design and its durability. Best thing they did was switch to Chevy power in 1965. I do miss seeing them on the road on a regular basis.

  13. Tom Driscoll

    Hard to believe this is a ’76! 50’s looks, with dual master and other requisite safety equipment of the 70’s might make this a safe/reliable hauler? I have a feeling it rides more like a 50’s car? Interested to hear if any of you have owned a late model checker, and what is the driving impression? And how about at freeway speed with all that bulk?? Total curiosity piece.

  14. Mark S Member

    I worked on a civilian one back when I started my apprenticeship in 1980. What I remember most was the over sized brakes and suspension very reminiscent of a 3/4 ton pickup underneath. I’m surprised police departments didn’t use them with big block motors. I don’t think they were any heavier than a crown Vic was. Any way this is a very restorable body on this car personally I’d shave and tuck the bumpers a little to get them to look a little better

  15. Rustytech Member

    I only rode in one of these, it was a funeral car with jump seats, uncomfortable even for an 11 year old. They were built like a tank though. This ones too nice, but I wonder, would they be banned from competing in a modern demolition derby? If not you’d have a champion for sure.

  16. Robert White

    If you watch the film Blue Collar you will see the factory that this Checker was built in during the 1976 production run. The Checker factory was demolished after Checker went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but they filmed Blue Collar at that exact factory so watch the film to see them being made.

    Bob

  17. Bingb

    An uncle in Kalamazoo had a new Marathon and an old Porsche..I kind of prefered the Checker.

  18. Tim Rusling

    I had a ’79 Checker Marathon done up as a yellow “Radio City Cab” . It’s now in the northern region of France, awaiting a freshening up by its new owners. I had the car for 24 years, one of those years in a museum.

  19. Tom Driscoll

    Not a bucket list item for me…but uniqueness is huge…would cruise nights appreciate this thing? Dunn no…

    • Tim Rusling

      Tom, don’t know about cruise nights, but my years of owning my Marathon, which used to be a really nice show car, was that most people couldn’t care less about it – it wasn’t considered part of the normal car culture. One gatekeeper at a major show asked me upon arrival why I brought an old cab to a car show. I didn’t think car people ever talked to exhibitors like that. Although I normally have a fairly thick skin, I admit I was hurt and I didn’t have a good time at the show.

      • Tom Driscoll

        Tim, I can relate to your experience…some shows are certainly less inclusive than others…hopefully that didn’t deter you from enjoying a car which is truly unique and played a big roll in transportation history.

  20. charlie Member

    The previous body was even more interesting – in the 50’s I would see them in the movies, and on an occasional trip to Manhattan, and although I could name every US car made, mostly by make and year, from about l934 on, I did not know what they were – there were some Desoto stretched cabs with an opening sunroof but these cars, which turned out to be Checkers, were not the big three or the little four, some resemblance to GM C bodies, some resemblance to Mopars of the day, but not one or the other. Years later I found they were a brand unto themselves. Something like the Superior school busses, in lots of movies, but not seen by me in the northeast, because they were sold primarily on the west coast and, with no rust issues, lasted 40 years or more.

  21. charlie Member

    Google or Bing 1950 Checker Taxi – front fender going into front door, like GM, grill a Cadillac copy, body BIG.

  22. leiniedude leinieduede Member

    Sold for $4,081.00. 33 bids.

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