Checker Motors Corporation - History


Morris Markin, (a clothier from Chicago, Illinois) became the owner of 'Markin Automobile Body', an auto-body manufacturer based in Joliet, Illinois following a default by the owner on a $15,000 personal loan. The facility made bodies for 'Commonwealth Motors' who marketed the vehicles to cab companies under the trade name 'Mogul'.

Commonwealth Motors was on the verge of bankruptcy but had an order from Checker Taxi (a privately-owned cab company in Chicago that had no affiliation with Markin at the time). Markin merged Commonwealth Motors with Markin Automobile Body in order to honor the contractual commitment. In 1930 Checkers came in either black, maroon, yellow or canary.

Markin was later to buy the Checker Taxi Company.

1920's Models

Model(year) Engine HP wheelbase Passengers
Model C-44(1922) 4-cylinder 40 N/A 5-7
Model H-2(1923) 4-cylinder 22.5 127 in (3,226 mm) 5
Model E(1924) 4-cylinder 22.5 117 in (2,972 mm) 5
Model E(1925-1926) 4-cylinder 22.5 117 in (2,972 mm) 5
Model F(1926-1927)) 4-cylinder 22.5 117 in (2,972 mm) 5
Model G-4(1927-1928) 4-cylinder 22.5 117 in (2,972 mm) 5
Model G-6(1927-1928) 6-cylinder 27.30 124.75 in (3,169 mm) 5
Model K-6(1929) 6-cylinder 27.30 127 in (3,226 mm) 6

The company entered the consumer passenger car business in 1958 and consumer automobiles were phased in regionally across the US in 1959 starting in New York and New England. Nationally, introduction of the Checker Superba took place at the Chicago Auto Show on February 8, 1960.

The dealer network continued to grow throughout the early 1960s, and throughout the decade Checker usually managed its target volume of 6000-7000 cars a year. In 1962, production topped 8000, although most of those were taxis. Four-door sedans and station wagons (Superba and Marathon models) also were advertised to individual customers in upscale publications. The ads emphasized the durability of the Checker and the attention to quality improvements. In 1962 almost 3,000 cars were sold to individuals, 20% of production, but that percentage declined to 10% in the 1970s.

In addition to automobile production, Checker played a significant role as a third-party automotive supplier of OEM body stampings. In the late 1930s, Checker produced truck bodies for Hudson in addition to manufacturing complete Ford truck cabs. Checker also produced truck bodies for the REO Motor Car Company.

In 1964 the state of New York pursued Markin and Checker on antitrust charges, alleging that it controlled both the taxi service and manufacture of taxis, and thus favored itself in fulfilling orders. Rather than allow Checker drivers to begin buying different brands of cars, Markin began selling licenses in New York City.

The next year, the company switched from the standard Continental engine, offering either Chevy 230 cu in (3.8 l) "stovebolt" I6s or 283 cu in (4.64 l) small block V8s.

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