I am a confirmed old car freak. My love for old cars is not that unusual tho. What might be unusual is the age of what I daily drive. What am I driving as a daily right now? This 1975 Checker.
My sis snapped this pic of me driving it months back (note the snow). This car is a bare bones model. It’s not even a Marathon. Just a basic A11 model. 99% of which were destined to be ran into the ground as taxi cabs. This particular one was one of THREE A11’s ordered with trim code 30 in 1975. The color could best be described as “Battleship Gray” Was never a taxi. As Checker offered these as fleet cars (and as police cars and a bunch of other cool variations) it may have served some other as-yet unknown purpose. I’ll be researching this soon..I was rather surprised how few cars Checker made each year back in the “good old days” 4-5000 cars per year were all that were being made. Contrast that against your average Chevy, made in the millions per annum! This car is in just fair shape, it has a fair collection of rust spots, dings and dents having traveled a lot of miles before being parked around 2000. The odometer reads 86k. I’m sure it’s been around at least once or thrice but nobody will ever really know since they only ever put 5 digit odometers in these. Still, the car attracts attention wherever I drive it. You can’t even buy gas without involving yourself in a lengthy conversation. Power is courtesy of a well worn Chevy 250 six cylinder. Cold started, it rattles in a way that lets a person know its days are numbered. Sounds just fine once warmed up so its just piston slap before they expand a little. I’d trust it to drive anywhere. Why? It’s not going to just blow up. It will slowly start consuming oil and do the long lingering slow painful sort of death….it’s coming for sure, but not tomorrow, nor likely this year, but eventually, it will just get too tired. I’ll have replaced it long prior to that ever happening. People often ask if I’m afraid it will break. I’m not afraid of it breaking tho…It’s made of easily fixed and mostly (more on this in a minute) easy to get common 1975-era parts cribbed from wherever the Checker people were getting stuff at that moment. It has dirt-common and cheap GM electrical parts like the starter and alternator. The gas gauge is more suggestion than fact ( I understand from other owners this is a standard “undocumented feature”). The cars built after about 1965 have straight 6 and V8 engines that were the same as offered in Chevrolet cars. Later cars got V6 engines and the infamous Olds 350 Diesel. There were some propane powered cars as well. Transmission is a GM turbo 400. I’m not terribly worried about it being overpowered by all 100hp that chev six is pushing out. The rear axle is a Dana 44 so parts are simple to find for it. I already added a positrac unit to mine since I had one sitting around. A few parts are somewhat hard (read expensive) to source like windwing weatherstripping and the front steering centerlink but overall, since rescuing the car from a garage back in March, I have put over 7000 miles on it. So far, it has needed a pickup for the HEI distributor, (it never died but it did get twitchy) Replaced the Master Cylinder, (no big shocker as it had sat for 15 years) and a fuel pump (Was still working but I changed it preemptively as I had no faith in a pump that had sat that long) I put some good used tires on and have been driving the wheels off it for months now without having it strand me. Proof that some cool stuff still hides on Craigslist.
This is what $1500 got me. So far, it is the ONLY “ran when parked” car I have ever bought that actually started and ran when I put in a battery and primed the carb. Future plans will likely involve a more modern powerplant and A/C. The Hoarder in me sorta craves a Checker Wagon. Time will tell. Here is one last pic from a vintage brochure.