Thursday, June 09, 2011

Steve has the keenest Checker knowledge I've ever come across! He knew a 1939 Checker Model A from the back window!

The above was all I had, and I wondered about the taxi, but Steve knew!

Not a good looking front, unique, but not good. The fenders and rear quarters are bad also. I knew I'd posted one years ago With the flip of a switch, the electrically operated top goes into the trunk
This is the landaulet version of the Checker Model A, which was built from 1939 until Checker switched to war production in 1941. The back top was electrically operated and disappeared into the body. It also had a sun roof. During the war, Checker donated the body dies to be melted down and recycled for the war effort.

A handful of unusual-looking snouts appeared on American vehicles during the late thirties but none matched the monstrosity that premiered on the 1939 Checker Model A. The equally bizarre Sharknose Graham is the only other vehicle that could hold a candle to the Model A.

and this is the only close up in color I've seen of the multi colored hood ornament

Checker designer John H. Tuttle is credited with designing the Model A’s bodywork from the cowl back, but the identity of the person who designed the front end is the subject of much debate. Ray Dietrich served as a consultant to the firm starting in the late 30s, however he emphatically denied any involvement with the firm’s taxi designs rig up until his death.

Tuttle’s name also appears on the patents for the cars optional rear landaulet roof, and it’s probable that he also worked on the front end, however it’s entirely possible a third designer, perhaps even Morris Markin himself, designed the front end, whose main claim to fame was that it is so ugly, you could see it coming from up to half-a-mile away.

The headlights were modern oval units mounted to the front fenders in the typical fashion, however those beams were surrounded by massive chrome-plated art-moderne shields unlike any seen on any other vehicle. Body colored louvered valances provided cooling to the radiator which was hidden behind the solid beak that extender downwards from the center of the hood.
The short wheelbase Model A included a purpose-built 124-inch wheelbase chassis with a traditional solid front and live rear axles supported by longitudinal leaf springs. The independent front suspensions found on other manufacturer’s vehicles were easily knocked out of alignment and were far too fragile for taxicab use.
This is said to be the only known remaining Model A, once belonging to Jim Baudendistel

The Model A included a number of more practical innovations such as an automatic signal that alerted pedestrians when the cab was put into reverse, padded finger guards on the rear door edges and rear seats that were stuffed with synthetic rubber cushions.
The Model A was introduced mid-year and was powered by a Continental Red Seal Six, an engine that would become standard equipment until 1965 when the firm adopted a General Motors powerplant. The John H. Tuttle-designed sunroof and landaulet rear top were optionally available on either of the two available wheelbases.

A period review called the Model A:
"...the most radical innovation of the entire taxicab industry this year. Checker's disappearing top is attracting widespread attention in the larger cities where its Parmelee system fleets operate.... The all-metal landaulet can be opened or closed by the driver in 40 seconds, without moving from his seat...the cab is equipped with a glass roof that can be readily opened or closed by the driver at the will of his fare."

The model A was the last prewar Checker taxicab, and only a single survivor, a long-wheelbase model equipped with the landaulet roof, exists. At the start of the war Markin donated the Model A’s body dies to melted down for the war effort.

Info from and read all about the Check taxi cab manufacturer here

And a Facebook group is already made for Checkers too


  1. This is the coolest car from the 40's i ever seen.The frount end looks like an old bumper car.To bad theres only one left.I wish i could see it in person.Please keep it safe.Awsome car for sure...

  2. Would it be possible to have this Checker car made into a 1/48 scale die cast model ? many model railroaders would love to have these to fill their collections.

    1. A 1/43 scale version is in the works. It should be available sometime in 2016.

  3. Not to be picky, but I've just researched this model, and only the prototype was made in 1939. Production occurred from early 1940 through late 1941. It's possible a few more were assembled from parts on hand during and after the war. But the cab was definitely not yet in production in 1939.

    1. I think I found a 1941 checker Model A. My understanding is, there was only one know to exist. Dose anyone where that car is and what is possible be worth?

    2. Send me photos. and we will get to finding out

  4. I found a photograph of Michigan Ave Chicago 1946 with 5 model A's in it.
    a Beautiful clear picture.if you want to see it, email