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The Anti-Taxi Cab: 1964 Checker Marathon Wagon

When we think of Checker Marathons, it’s often the sedan variant in taxi cab livery that springs to mind. And if you say “wagon”, you’d be forgiven if the first thing you think of is the somewhat ridiculous 12-seater Aerobus. This 1964 Checker Marathon wagon is the rarely seen four-door station wagon variant, and this one here on eBay is a runner with an opening bid of $5,999.

The body is nicely aged, and while it’s now in California, the old-school Texas license plate should give some indication that this Checker has lived in ideal climates for preservation of vintage tin. The seller notes this example has the power rear window, air conditioning and the Chevy-derived inline-six cylinder motor. Chrome looks presentable, along with lenses and seemingly all glass.

The dash pad looks rough, but the dashboard fascia and gauges all look to be in fair condition. The door panels and seat upholstery are in fair condition for their age, and this example comes with a three-speed manual with overdrive. Checker Marathons were built to go the distance, and given the seemingly light wear inside the cabin, there’s a good chance the low mileage odometer reading is accurate.

Checker used engines from a variety of sources, but the seller notes this is the 140 b.h.p. I6 from Chevrolet. The biggest mechanical issue to sort is a leaking “brake cylinder,” according to the seller, and it also has a cracked windshield. Although the tires are flat in pictures, the wagon received new rubber at all four corners recently. While the Marathon taxi cab may be the one everyone remembers, this wagon version will likely turn more heads.

Comments

  1. Classic Steel

    These tanks are solid !👍

    I rode in many of them in my youth.😎

  2. Matt G

    Didn’t Checkers come with Continental engines in 1964? It seems unlikely it would have an engine swap after only 50k miles…

  3. Loco Mikado

    If taken care of the only car you would have needed to buy in your lifetime. Everything was either replaceable or repairable with relative ease. Of course car manufacturers sales would be way down if they built cars like this.

    Like 1
  4. Michael

    Drove a Checker taxi just outside NYC for 2 years. Gutless but a good reliable vehicle. I was slowly going down a steep hill on an icy/snowy night and could not stop so I went up and down the curb and brushed up against snow banks to slow me down. This went on for about 1/4 mile.The guy in the back seat nearly crapped himself.

    Like 1
  5. Bob c.

    This could be the Continental OHV six. 1965 was supposedly the first year for Chevy engines. Besides, most Chevy sixes were red, and that air cleaner sure doesn’t look Chevy to me.

  6. Dave Wright

    The Checker options list was like a phone book. You could get it equipped as anything from a bare bones 4 cyl to a high end limousine. The dealer my dad bought his commercial GMC trucks from was also a Checker dealer (the only 2 brands they sold) and the owner always drove one and had another on the showroom. Some were appointed as well as a top Mercedes and some came with 90HP Perkins diesels with rubber floor mats.

  7. Miguel

    Does anybody know what the original warranty was on a Checker?

    If you guessed 3 months, you are correct.

  8. wcastor Member

    It looks like a 230cid Chev I6 to me just by the shape of the valve cover. As far as the color of the engine, they were supplied in other colors, for example the Chevrolet I6 and 283 V-8 that Studebaker used were painted Black. In ’65, the valve covers were yellow but changed to all black in ’66.

  9. Mitch Ross Member

    I had a 1970 Checker Wagon with a 307 in it. Bought it off a lawn in Smithtown , LI for $100 in 1984. Wish I never got rid of it.

  10. Dovi65

    Back in the mid 70s one of the guys I went to school with, he drove a 65-66 GTO. His parents had a Green Checker sedan [late 60/early 70s I’d guess], loved it .. very well kept. It was swapped off for a new Checker around 1980 or so. The new car was even more stunning .. Burgundy with a black vinyl top. Very likely they still have it. Wherever it is, I hope it’s still well cared for

  11. Summitrunner Member

    I drove a Checker stretch limo wagon back in the ’70s. A beautiful thing -dark green with a black vinyl top. I had a job running skiers from a hotel to the ski lodge. Never looked under the hood, but that thing had plenty of kick when I stepped deep. I loved to see those skiers slide from side to side on the big benches as I tucked that monster into the corners.

  12. On and On On and On Member

    In Chicago at O’Hare airport there were lines of these, 4 door sedans and wagons too in the 60’s. Cabs, back when cabs were cabs, Checker and Yellow and smaller companies and independents.Everyone spoke english as a first language. Tons of people room inside with legroom and a trunk that held enough of your luggage to take the QE2 on a world tour.

  13. On and On On and On Member

    Oh, and I forgot about the “stretch” versions with like 4 doors on both sides. One of those with a 327 Chevy engine would make a great overnight camper today. Weber ‘smokey joe’ in the trunk of course.

  14. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    At one point in the mid 70’s I turned wrenches at a Sears auto center in Seattle. There was a Doctor who came in on a regular basis. He drove a Checker Marathon wagon with Diesel engine. He loved that car and was always bragging about it. I worked on a lot of cars during my long career in that under paid business, but that Checker really stands out in my memory.

  15. Cmarv

    I am not sure but didn’t the sedans have jump seats in the back ?

    • MSG Bob

      Having ridden them as a child, I can answer in the affirmative. We three kids would argue over who got the jump seats as there were only 2.

  16. David Miraglia

    My parent owned some Checker cabs here in NYC. Loved riding them. All that room in the back. Any Checker including the wagon is one my page long
    desirable list.

  17. XMA0891

    Neat find! I love it! I’ve seen the Areobus, I’ve seen the liveries, but never a wagon!

  18. SAM61

    Our cottage neighbor in Wisconsin had a “civilian” sedan with opera windows and vinyl top as their seasonal driver. One of the local realtors used an 8 door wagon to tour new listings. The last time I haled a Checker was early 90’s in Chicago and NYC.

    It appears that the cab companies had exhausted the supply of old cop cars (Impala and Crown Vics) and moved on to Toyota Prius variants in the “big” cities.

    Checker was THE quintessential American cab.

  19. Wayne

    I like it a lot! Chevy/GM painted most of their “supplied/industrial/marine” engines black. Only the ones installed in Chevrolets were painted orange.
    It looks like a 230/250 GM six to me also.

  20. Wayne

    An LS (5.3?) with the overdrive transmission would go great in this vehicle. (I remember 3.73 gears in the 2 that we used to service back at the Goodyear Store in Illinois)
    Naturally there is room for anything you would want to install. ( even a V10 !)
    I would install a 500 Cadillac with a 700R4 and aftermarket throttle body injection. 20 mpg on the road and enough torque to tow anything you want. Lord knows the chassis is up to the task. The frames make an old Travelall look wimpy.

  21. KKW

    Texas? Ideal climate for preservation of vintage tin? That would depend on what part of Texas. The eastern half is one of the worst places in the country for heat and humidity.

  22. Ken Carney

    Could definately fit a lot of newspapers in this thing for sure. Now there’s
    a car for you. Built like a tank with an almost bulletproof drivetrain. A lot
    of these cars continued to run even after the cab companies retired them.
    Almost bought one in the’90’s from a regular customer I knew at work. I
    passed on it then beecause the Mrs. and I were buying a house. I talked
    to the owner’s caregiver who told me the car had been badly damaged in
    an accident. The caregiver said the car was T-boned and thought to be
    undrivable. Six months later, I saw that same car parked at the place where
    my wife played Bingo. Boy, was I shocked! the damage I saw on the
    car was a crease in both doors on the passenger’s side of the car.
    Turns out the car that hit Mrs. Erby was a brand new Subaru sport
    coupe that was totalled out. Hmmmm. Go figure. BTW, that’s a
    230. I put one of these into my ’52 Chevy sedan after my sister
    spun a bearing in the original engine. 230’s were built tough and
    also had gobs of torque too. Great find! Keep ’em comin’!

    Like 1
    • bob

      If you are speaking of a rod bearing, I’m curious . How do you spin a poured babbit bearing? Main bearing would be hard to spin ,but possible I suppose .

  23. Bill B.

    I drove one for a customer regularly in the 70s…as a wagon guy this is on my ultimate wagon list….throw a few wolf hounds in the back and off we go !

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