Monday, January 10, 2011

The Checker Motor Company VW Files - An Introduction

Checker Motor Corporation is a company everyone in America knows about without really knowing it.Those iconic taxi cabs from movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's? Phoebe's Taxi from "Friends"? This:

You knew that right? I had a friend in college who dreamed of owning one of these cars simply because they are 1) indestructible and 2) they have a great deal of space in the back seat...

They were built in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where I grew up. My dad, being a car guy, was friends with a gentleman who worked there for years. They both collected antique cars and ended up retiring in the same town in Northern Michigan.

And here's where "The Checker Motor Company VW Files" come in. A few months ago, my father was discussing cars with this old friend and it turns out that he had some of the original research files from the Checker Motors research department. It turned out the he had the "Volkswagen" folder! While none of this is earth shattering and, in fact, you will have seen most of this stuff, the cool aspect about this is that it arrived to me as a thick folder, untouched from the 50s, when someone in Checker was responsible for pulling together info on the Volkswagen.

After reading the Wikipedia entry, it seemed that fate stepped in just before the Checker Motor Company and Volkswagen may have had more in common that we could have known:

From Wikipedia:

In 1977, seven years after the death of Morris Markin, retired GM President Ed Cole bought into Checker with the intent of re-energizing the company and developing a new, more modern Checker. Cole's plan was to purchase partially completed Volkswagens from VW's new factory in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania. Cole was going to ship the VWs to the Checker Motors factory in Kalamazoo, cut them in half, insert a section to lengthen the VW, raise the roof and then sell the reconfigured vehicle as a taxi.

So, over the next few weeks, I will bring you the contents of Checker Motor Company's VW files. Some of it you've seen before, some you haven't. All of it is interesting. Here's the folder I received...

Starting tomorrow, I'll post the contents here on the blog.



Can't wait. As a Checker owner, enthusiast and member of the Checker Car Club of America ( I'm eagerly waiting for your postings.

Chubb E. Checker

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