We all know Checker as a company that made taxicabs. Really, they made one iconic kind of taxi that looked like a1950s design from 1961 to 1982, but they did take that basic car, the Marathon, and do some bonkers things with it. Bonkers as in a station wagon version on a wildly stretched wheelbase and with four doors per side, for a total of eight doors and 12 passengers. This ungainly and fantastic beast was called the Checker Aerobus.
What I like about the Aerobus is that it seems that Checker at least half-assedly tried to see if they could sell it as a family car, stating in brochures that it’s just a “long, long family car.” Here, look:
I mean, none of these examples of livried Aerobuses here were a “family,” unless we somehow count the family of quality products made by the Upjohn corporation, like Motrin or Xanax. I’m not sure what family would want to drive around something this absurdly long and ungainly, but maybe there was one. I mean, these Aerobuses do offer many more doors than a local city bus, allowing for faster and easier loading and unloading, because it essentially runs in parallel as opposed to the serial operation of a normal bus with only one set of doors.
These Aerobuses look like a Google maps glitch image. They’re incredible.
I like the ones fitted with the extra round turn indicators atop the fenders, so you know. Also, look at how long that chassis is!
Also incredible is the fact that the Checker factory was once used as the backdrop of a 1970s gritty movie about working class Americans, with our portable microwaves – okay real talk. I’m so tired and I have to get up early tomorrow to do a whole bunch of video shooting and I sorta blanked out there and I have no idea why I typed “portable microwaves.” Are those even a thing? The fuck do they have to do with a Checker factory and cases of Cutty Sark for your shop steward? Nothing.
But look, here, watch the trailer for this old movie, and remember that they’re building Checker Marathons in there:
Looks like a hell of a movie! I’ve heard it’s very underrated, much like a Checker Marathon itself.
I know it’s morning for you but here, in the near past, it’s last night, and boy am I beat. I’m going to sleep.
Jeez, Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yahpet Kotto, and Ed Begley Jr. all look so young …and almost wholesome.
Thanks for yet another great article Jason… this, the colored bumper strips, etc… I swear that I’ll never get tired of enjoying your ability to come up with analogies: “what are you/am I, a pope or sultan or something?!” I’ve actually found myself reaching for that one spontaneously IRL.
Having grown up in New York City in the 1970s, Checker Marathons were pretty much synonymous with ‘taxis.’ Now, it’s all gen 4 Prius Vs or minivans or whatever and I for one, refuse to accept the change.
I cant believe they made a one piece body.No half assery here!
Checker Aerobus: for when the family in question is REALLY into the whole “quiverfull” thing.
My friend worked as fill-in doorman one summer for a few luxury apartment buildings in Manhattan (1977). A request to hail a cab was often followed with “See if ya can get me a Checker.”
peanut butter sandwich the long way oh yeah