by Kevin Walsh

Actually a four-shot today, as I found this battered but unbowed Checker on Gravesend Neck Road east of the el station.

What year?

The Checker logo depicts land masses that resemble none on the current globe. A look back to the prehistoric past, or perhaps a look into the far future after continental drift has had a few dozen million more years…


Dave February 24, 2012 - 12:14 pm

Late 1970’s, I’d guess.

AlC February 24, 2012 - 1:05 pm

Kevin, if you focus on the brown area of the “globe”, you’ll see it’s supposed to be North America.
Not so much a globe as just a skewed map.

KevinJWalsh February 24, 2012 - 4:53 pm

You’re right. I thought the brown area was ocean.

Steve February 24, 2012 - 1:19 pm

I’ve seen a couple of Checkers restored and leased as limos.

chris February 24, 2012 - 2:05 pm

Hard to say the A8 Marathon was pretty much unchanged from 1956-1982.

Kevin February 24, 2012 - 4:15 pm

The only real way to tell on this one is to look at the registration sticker on the window. The fenders with the side marker lights came out in 1968. If they are original, the bumpers were introduced in 1974. They were basically unchanged on the outside from then up until they ceased production in 1982.

vintagejames February 24, 2012 - 4:40 pm

Been in the area for years. Always figured it must be used for movies or television. There was once an old oil delivery truck sometimes seen around, but I haven’t spotted it in some time.

JOEL NORMAN February 24, 2012 - 6:29 pm


Helvi's Dubman February 25, 2012 - 2:47 pm

The company also produced a airport limo. Imagine the Checker with not four dooors but a godzillion doorrs with a stretched out roof rack. There are similar vehicle being made. Power train is chevy. Alkso, a few diesel models came out which were sold in Florida, The reason they were sold in Florida was probably because that state is so flat which combined with retired people driving slowly meant the lack of power was not a problem. There plans to produce a Chevy Citation but the prototype did not pass tests.

Revanoff May 29, 2012 - 6:24 pm

I am sorry to say this but you are not completely correct.

That is a Checker model A11 or A12 depending on year. It may have a V8, it could also have a 250 inline 6; then again, depending on year, it may have a 3.8L V6 (Last 3 or so years of production ONLY).

If it is an ’82, it could be propane fueled instead of gasoline. The Borg/Warner transmission was a manual shift item. If the car pictured above is an automatic, it would have a GM Turbo-Hydramatic 400 series 3 speed Automatic.

Morris Markin (Creator of Checker Motors) died in 1970. It was a designer from GM who died in a plane crash. I don’t recall the year.

In 1959 for the 1960 model year, Checker introduced the “Superba” line of civilian vehicles to the public.These were virtually identical to their commercial cousins. In the phase of 1961-1962, the “Superba” name was dropped, and the civilian version was called the “Marathon”. This does not apply to “Aerobus”, “Medi-car” and the various other specialty vehicles Checker produced.

Joralemonade February 24, 2012 - 6:39 pm

My grandfather had one of these; he was your typical, cigar smoking, cap wearing NYC cabbie for 45 years (1921 to 1966), & owned a medalion-back in the days when one didn’t have to take out a jumbo mortgage to do so. And (of course), no other driver knew how to drive except him.

It also doubled as the family car when he was off duty, as no other family member drove. I myself have continued that tradition, which is why l can really relate to Kevin’s discovery of Brooklyn neighborhoods via walking, cycling or public transportation; love of the old Hagstrom 5 Borough Atlas & pretty much all the other quirky things featured on FNY. It has to be the greatest site of it’s kind-& for one reason only: It’s by a NATIVE NEW YORKER! Thank you, Mr. Walsh!

Back to the Checker: My sister & I loved those flip down, circular metal seats in the back, flipping them up & down gleefully & repeatedly, driving ol’ gramps insane.

What we DIDN’T love was that he smoked those cigars in the cab…with the Windows CLOSED if it was cold or rainy. YECH!

I can’t begin to tell you how nauseous that got us all. But still fun memories nonetheless!

Robert Craig February 24, 2012 - 7:48 pm

I really miss Checker cabs on New York’s streets these days!

Heartland February 25, 2012 - 10:29 am

I remember an article which appeared in the NY Post in the late ’90’s about the last 2 active duy Checkers. One was owned by a Russian & the other by a Jamaican. Each was deferring retiring their Checker until the other did so. Finally one of them developed a fatigue crack in it’s frame & that was the end of the road (I forget who’s it was). Finally, the last Checker standing was retired & no Checker cabs would be hailed on the streets of NYC in the 21st century.” Gloria sic transit munde”. If you just” gotta hav”e a Checker of your own check “Hemmings Motor News” where obsessive collecters of all persuasions go to turn their money pits into cash.

Jim February 25, 2012 - 7:33 pm

My Dad owned a ’66 with a 283 Chevy engine and a “3 on the tree”. Amazing amount of legroom in the back. His was built as a passenger car and never used as a taxi, but it still had the jumpseats in the floor.

There was a dealer off Northern Blvd. in LIC. I remember going there in maybe ’73 or ’74 which is when my Dad owned his. There were several of new Checkers parked in a lot, some yellow cabs and some domestic models.

Usher February 26, 2012 - 2:20 am

I’m not sure if this is the same car, but I’ve seen one of these around the Midwood area the past few years. It was very often parked near JC Studios off Ave M (I work in that neighborhood). I haven’t seen it there in a while though, and it used to be in much better condition.

Sal February 26, 2012 - 11:02 am

Yeah I was looking at the logo the same way, thinking the brown was the ocean ..until I hit the great lakes! lol

roger_the_shrubber February 26, 2012 - 11:03 am

Those pop up seats would be banned for safety reasons today no doubt.

Jim February 26, 2012 - 1:16 pm

The ’66 still had the metal dashboard, too.

I’m pretty sure they used the Chevy drivetrain right up to the end. The later ones even had Chevy steering wheels and gearshift levers.


Gary Farkash February 26, 2012 - 2:38 pm

If I remember correctly, the last checker was owned by a man in Rosedale Queens and I believe that as of 4 years ago, he still owned it. Had it parked down his driveway. I used to live there and drove by his house on accasion.

Doug February 26, 2012 - 7:53 pm

This A11 is 1978-1980. That is based on wiper configuration, gas tank fill angle, and license plate light. Sorry if this is a duplicate post, not sure why it did not post the first time.

Barry Caselli February 27, 2012 - 10:22 am

I’m not good at telling one year of Checker from another, but I’m a big Checker fan, as well as a big Forgotten NY fan!
Sometime in the 2000s I was in Atlantic City to photograph churches, and I saw a real Checker cab waiting for fares in front of a store, like a CVS or something. I talked to the guy, asked him what year it was and so forth, and then asked if I could take some pictures, to which he said yes. The year, he told me, I think was `77 or `78. I later started seeing the same cab parked in someone’s front yard, just down the street from my brother, here on the mainland.

RICH February 27, 2012 - 11:00 am

Travis Bickel would be proud.

Mister Ed February 28, 2012 - 12:23 pm

Somebody got their money’s worth out of this one. Post-taxi is had a trailer hitch added. And in what year did they switch to Duct Tape taillight enclosures?

Chee Ef February 29, 2012 - 2:14 pm

If you want to see the face of the “new Checker” – –

It can be equipped with a jump seat from the factory, behind the drivers seat. It includes an integral ramp below the totally-flat floor, so us aging NY’ers can get in much easier, but no jump seat on the passenger side as that’s where the mobility devices glide into. But it EASILY seats three across the back bench with plenty of leg- and headroom.

Elena Paperny March 2, 2012 - 3:59 pm

My Dad, rest his soul, drove a Checker cab for a while back in the ’60’s, when my brother and I were kids, in order to make a little extra money. He told us a couple of interesting stories about what occasionally went on in the back seat! One half of an amorous couple once told him, “Just watch the road, and keep on driving!” You can draw your own conclusions.


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