Checker Marathon

The Checker Motors Company produced its first car, the Model C in 1922. Thier factory was located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Marathons were produced in both four-door sedan and four-door station wagon forms, and the rare eight-door, 12-seater "Aerobus" wagon.


For 60 years, Checker Motors had a record unbroken run of profits building a few thousand cars per year in a small factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan until 1981. Morris Markin, the son of a poor Russian tailor, cleverly managed to minipulate himself (and some stock holdings he managed to get revalued) into the position to provide the first Checker, the Model C of 1922. The factory instantly became a profitable enterprise. As always, Checkers were dsigned specifically for the job, both in their layout and rugged construction. In 1955, an all new Checker was developed in their advanced styling studio. The new A8 was designed to meet Manhattan's new taxi regulations.  Interior space was always the highlight of the Checkers, and the Marathon's tall roof, totally flat floor and the folding jump seats meant that up to five patrons could be accommodated  in the rear compartment alone. Checker Motors operated most profitably with an annual production of 6-8k cars, but after 1970 that became increasingly difficult, due to major markets like NYC loosening their taxi regulations to allow conventional sedans to operate. They were obviously cheaper for The Big Three to build, and the fleet dumping practices of the 1970s was the last nail in the Checker's coffin as a producer of cars. In 1981, Checker had its only posted loss after some sixty years, having even survived the Depression profitably. But Checker continued to build parts until 2009 when the downturn finally swamped them too.

Classic New York City Taxicab

A version of the Marathon was, during its production run, the taxicab of choice for New York City and many other American cities. The size of the car (seating many passengers), the robust construction, the lack of yearly changes to the styling (simplifying parts management), and the bolt-on body panels all contributed to the Marathon's ubiquity on the streets of Manhattan. For example, virtually any film set in New York City in the 1970s or 1980s will show a Checker Marathon. A knowledgeable Checker viewer, however, will note that many 1950s and 1960s movie scenes use Checker cabs built in the 1970s and early 1980s, since the bodies were virtually the same, and due to the lack of usable early specimens.