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Stretch Limousine: 1970 Checker Marathon

The Marathon was the mainstay of Checker Motors out of Kalamazoo, Michigan between 1961-82. Most of them were built for fleet buyers, and many of those were taxicabs. This ’70 Marathon was rescued from a junkyard many moons ago after it had already become a stretch limo. The seller lavishly restored it and has used the vehicle as part of his own limo business since then. Now he’s trying to retire, so the beautiful land yacht is available in Fresno, California, and here on eBay for someone else to perhaps start a business of their own. It can be yours for $38,000, although you can make an offer, too.

From 1965-forward, these Checkers relied on drivetrains from GM, in particular Chevrolet. Changes from year-to-year would be minimal, usually to satisfy the whims of new Federal government safety or emissions control regulations. The Marathon was discontinued in the early 1980s when Checker exited the automobile manufacturing business.

As the story goes, this Checker was acquired by the seller from a gentleman who rented taxis to the movie industry in Southern California. The prior owner had found it wasting away in a scrapyard, though the body was still straight and rust-free. It had already been stripped of its engine, transmission, and interior. The seller bought it on a salvage title which still covers the vehicle today. The limo purchase came with a regular Marathon that was used to help restore the big beast.

Part of the extensive restoration included a new drivetrain which may have as little as 3,000 miles on it. The seller added it to his fleet and was renting it out for $175/hour (minimum three hours) at the time he decided to downsize and go into semi-retirement. For those wanting to replicate his business endeavors, the limo will come with the internet domain BigCityLimos.com which the seller also owns. We’re told the stretch Checker has recently been appraised at $45,500, so he’s offering to sell it at a 17% discount.

If you’ve had a hankering to get into the post-COVID limo business, this vintage piece could be one way to go about it. Weddings, parties, high school proms, birthdays, you name it. The car should be more pleasurable to drive than it was in 1970 with its newer 350 V8, TH-400 automatic transmission, dual alternators and batteries, and air conditioning that will cool down a small army. The Marathon has already passed its annual California Highway Patrol inspection. To see the Checker in action, check out the video the seller has provided.

Comments

  1. geezerglide85

    My first thought was that this was an Aerobus, but it looks longer than the longest Aerobus. Maybe a stretched Aerobus? Looks really well done and there is no way you could make one this nice for the asking price. Just needs the right buyer.

    Like 8
  2. Rigor Mortis

    Prom? I went to prom in a rusty 39 Plymouth. That car made it through the war and my (our) after Prom adventures. Quite a car, and quite a gal (my date). Didn’t need some fancy limo or 20 friends in the car with us. Sometimes, alone time is all the better. Do modern kids understand that?

    Like 7
    • Marko

      Keep in mind that kids nowadays don’t do One on One dates, they do Group Dates, so that you don’t appear to be attached to one person, and can mingle with the rest of the group.

      That said, this Checker Limo is the bomb as far as limos go. Not ordinary by any means. As geezer said above, “Can’t build it for that !”

      I only ever got to ride in one Checker Marathon cab in my life, back in late 1978 in Las Vegas. I thought that was kind of cool.

      Like 7
      • Rigor Mortis

        Don’t want to appear to be attached to one person? Please explain that. No wonder kids today seem so screwed up. Have they lost what it means to be man and woman?

        Like 10
  3. Ike Onick

    This could be the uber-Uber.

    Like 6
  4. GregSBC

    What’s the turning circle?

  5. John Member

    People that rent limos, want to be seen in a limo, not a cab- IMHO.

    Like 2
  6. Steve Clinton

    Can you imagine trying to parallel park one of these suckers!?

    Like 6
  7. Troy

    And here is another one that leaves me wondering why someone would spend the money to make it a limo. I hope the seller gets what they want for it

    Like 1
    • rhonderwomaN

      24 years and counting in the limousine business, so we COMPLETELY understand why we decided to build it! Our instincts to do so were correct! Just like our classic Jaguars, our Checker Cab Limousine is the hit at every event! We take every event Uptown in the Big City Limo!

  8. gearjammer

    I just looked at the pictures in the eBay listing. Call me anal, but I think the seller could have vacuumed the driver’s-side floor mat.
    Impressive car, though.

    Like 1
  9. fliphall

    Gotta check my garage to see if it fits, be right back. Nope.

    Like 2
  10. JimZ Member

    Just ask….Why?

  11. Howie

    It says mileage 3334? Probably has many miles!!

  12. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Having owned the largest vintage and Rolls-Royce limo service in the Mid-Atlantic area [Fantasy Limousine Service], if someone wanted to offer such a limo and they lived in a large metro area, this would be a great one to begin with. In my 35+ years of being involved with limousines, this is the first one I’ve seen with polished diamond plate interior panels, and I must say, it looks good!

    If it’s recently passed the California Hiway Patrol inspection for limousines [a very involved yearly inspection I hear] I suspect this would be capable of making it home to whatever state you live in. Gonna have to drive it back, as it’s gonna require a flatbed semi trailer or long 5th wheel trailer to ship it on.

    Knowing what commercial stretch limousines in similar conditions cost to buy and put into service right away, this vehicle is very reasonably priced. But some quick advice for the novice: If you’re married, your spouse should know up front that unless you have drivers lined up, if you plan on doing the driving, this means you will be working weekends and evenings, so try to get your spouse interested, perhaps even driving some of the jobs if they have an interest.

    Like 7
    • rhonderwoman

      Bill, Like your Rolls Royces and our Jaguars, the design of our Big City Limo is iconic and timeless – these vehicles get even better and more appreciated by our enthusiastic clients with age! As fellow limousine operators, we appreciate your informed input.
      You are correct, consistently passing our annual CHP inspections is not an easy task.

      Like 1
  13. 69W31

    Back in drivers training (1972) there was an eight door Checker used by a local school. Not even close to this limo’s length, and yet, just as ungainly.

  14. Frank

    Back in the early 70s, while going to college, I worked at a private school on Long Island. They had a number of station wagons that they used to transport kids, and somebody got the idea to trade out their Mercury fleet for Checkers. Several of us drove from Glen Cove to the NY Checker dealer on the east side of Manhattan and picked up several Marathons. They were NYC Taxi size with big back doors and jump seats. I remember picking up kids for the weekend program in posh North Shore towns and telling the kids it was a limo. I went on to my real life soon after, so have no idea if they proved a good investment or not, but they were fun to drive and substantially built!

    Like 1
  15. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Here I am again with another family story. Dad bought a used 1967 Checker Marathon in 1968. It was not a taxi, but built for the public. It was a horrible army green, 3 on the floor and a radio and heater were the only options.
    Mom rolled it off a mountain in 1969. It actually survived the roll pretty well, but the roof was caved in. She crawled out of the rear window. She was ok, thank you.
    Dad took us to the Checker dealer in Union, NJ to order a new Checker. This would be the third new car he ordered from the dealer. The first was a 1953 Chevrolet 150, second a 1964 Ford Fairlane and now the 1970 Checker .
    It was our first new car with a V8, power steering, power brakes, am/fm stereo , white wall tires, automatic transmission, tinted glass and probably a few options I don’t remember. It was black with a blue interior. Mom loved the color blue. Even though it was a much nicer car than the ’67, I still hated both of them. So boxy and ugly compared to contemporary cars of the era. My aunt and uncle nextdoor had a beautiful 1968 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. We had a Checker.
    I’m a bit confused though on this limo. My eye are in the details. Our ’67 had the small parking lights this limo has, but, in 1970, Checkers had large parking lights . The side marker reflectors were on the ’68 & ’69 Checker. By 1970 they had larger reflector/lights which this car does not have. They got the taillights right, though. Pre 1970 they had one single red light per side with the backup lights under that and three small reflectors vertical under them. The ’70s had 2 red lights per side ,1 larger reflector and backup lights down by the bumper and license plate.
    The post said it came with a parts car, so maybe the parts car wasn’t a ’70.
    Anyway, back when I was a flashy kid I hated these cars. Now, I’d give my eye teeth to have one. Put a huge wood plank 3″ thick wood bumpers on it and push anyone out of my way.

    Like 2
  16. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member

    Howie, it’s a new replacement engine. It has only 3000 miles on it. Read the post.

    Like 2
  17. tony t

    Drive shaft has xxx U-joints?

  18. rhonderwoman

    Thankfully, we trusted our instincts to build it – because our endeavor paid off! We comfortably supported our family for 18 years with the popularity of Big City Limo!

  19. Eric

    Hello Mr.
    I am a taxi driver in France, and an American vehicle rental company with driver.
    I wish your limousine was already in France. I would be very interested. I could sell my ‘64.5 Ford Mustang Convertible that way so I could buy your limo, because I also own a 2002 Lincoln Town Car.

    Like 2

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