Friday, August 21, 2015

The Checker Clown Car


Some folks have no problem with them, other feel they are a blight on the hobby, what are we talking about?  The restored Checker Clown Cab.

What is a Checker Clown Cab, it’s the Checker so poorly restored, so poorly represented that it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The typical Checker Clown Cab is a restored Checker in taxicab livery. They can be found at car shows, auctions or worse case in movies on a regular basis. This blog will try to establish a new standard for Checker Clown Cabs: Bad, Really Bad and Run away screaming.

But first let’s establish the standard of what comprises an authentic Checker taxicab restoration, two models establish the standard:  the 1958-1962 Checker Model A9 and the 1963-1982 Checker A11. They are the standard as they are the cars that Checker designed and sold for purpose built taxi cab service.

The A9 and A11 is a bare bones sedan typically sold with minimum do-dads, chrome molding or any items that could be considered items of luxury such as vinyl roofs, moon roofs and opera lamps or windows. White walls are subject to debate as a luxury item, but they can be found in Checker brochures for use on taxicabs, for this reason, we will consider white wall applicable and authentic.


Pre 1967 Checker A11 NYC Cab,  aluminum roof light, red and yellow two tone, note appropriate rate card and emblem placement

1961 NYC Checker A9 with pre 1964 Checker OEM flame roof light

1969 Checker NYC A11 all yellow standard

80's era authentic Checker taxicab note no Checker seal on rear door, replaced with decals representing the taxicab operator Temper Hacking Corp.

Exterior standard for a Checker taxi is as follows:  The cab company name or Checker emblem is on the rear passenger door. Rate cards if used are placed on the front door, one roof light placed at the point the front and rear door meet. Additionally, many operators ran their cabs with roof or trunk mounted advertising. Some firms may have equipped their cabs with additional accessories such as spot lights, heavy duty bumper guards and potentially roof mounted a/c. Any Checker restoration sporting these taxicab attributes are authentic.  That’s the standard we’ll use for this blog

One more consideration, New York City restorations, for many Checker fans, Checkers are the stereotypical taxicabs that represent all cabs for New York city, for this reason many restorations are presented as authentic New York City cabs,   this blog we’ll also establish the NYC color and roof light standards.

Standards for New York City cabs:  multi-color units from 1958 through 1967, yellow after 1968.  Roof lights in New York, plastic Checker OEM flame lamp 1958-1964. Post 1964 various aluminum lamps with the cab medallion number prominently displayed.

Now that we have established the standard, let’s establish the standard for Clown Cabs.


Clown Cab Status 1,  Bad

Essentially a nice car, well restored and presentable, however the main concern is that the vehicle is based on a Marathon, not an A11 being a consumer market Checker, it will have higher end items typically not found in a true taxi.  Additional factors: placement of Checker emblem on the front door or city cab company emblems that are not authentic i.e. Chicago logo on a NYC cab, wrong rate cards for time period restored.  Color could be a flag too, if for example it’s a pre 1969 Checker depicting a NYC cab and it’s painted completely yellow then it’s a clown cab. Overall still a nice car to the layman, a true Checker fan will see the issues at hand.

A nicely restored Marathon, note the chrome strip and V8 emblem on the fender. This status one Clown Cab also sports a NYC style roof light but note its reads "Taxi" not a medallion number



Clown Cab Status 2,  Really Bad

Status two typically go to vehicles restored as taxicabs but the base vehicle were actually a Checker purpose built vehicle for something other than taxicab service.  The three best examples Checker vehicles wrongly restored as taxicabs: Marathon station wagons, Aero buses or Medicars restored as taxis.

NYC style taxi livery rendered on an Aerobus. A fantasy vehicle it also sports opera lamps, truck clearance lamps and mirrors the end result Clown Cab status 2


Like the Aerobus above, the Medicar dressed as a NYC taxi is a true Status Two Clown Cab


Clown Cab Status 3,  Run Away Screaming

Taxi restoration based on a Marathon wagon, chrome strip on fender, strange tailgate, 80's era rate card on a 60's era vehicle

Marathon based taxi with dented rocker, opera window and misplaced roof light result in Status 3

This Checker is wrong on so many levels, opera windows, vinyl roof, Chicago emblem, NYC rate card, multiple parallel stripes, yellow roof lamp, flag on fenders attached to a poor restoration note brown rockers


A combination the first two statuses, but to an extreme, this would include all the issues found in the statuses above but multiplied across many attributes.  Beyond the multiple status issues add to that poorly a restored vehicles: paint, chrome and upholstery.  Poor decal or stripe placement or the addition of chrome beyond CMC installed chrome, moon roof, or opera windows painted yellow and you have a Stage 3 Clown Cab.

There you have it, now if your a Checker owner, do you have a Clown Cab, if so, we can help.

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