October 21, 2021

CHECKER

Commonwealth Motors Co. (1920-1922)

Chicago, Illinois

Checker Cab Mfg. Co.

Joliet, Illinois (1922-1923)

Kalamazoo, Michigan (1923-1959)

Checker Motors Corp. (1922-1982)

Kalamazoo, Michigan


This is a Checker radiator emblem (c1925-1929)     mjs
Size: 58mm wide 58mm high    MM: None

America's best known specialist taxi-cab manufacturing company, Checker, began life as the taxi-cab model of the 4-cylinder Commonwealth automobile in 1920 with bodies built by the Markin Auto Body Corporation. The name came from the Checker Taxicab Company of Chicago, for whom the vehicles were built. By 1922, Commonwealth and Markin had merged to form Checker Motors Corporation and Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. In 1923 Checker moved into the former Handley-Knight factory in Kalamazoo. The first six-cylinder Checker cab was introduced in 1927.

Checker produced a Checker Utility passenger car in 1931-1932, as well as a number of one-off custom-built passenger cars in the early 1930's at the request of individual customers. But, the main product of Checker Motors Corporation was the Checker taxi-cab, which continued in a wide variety of model types. In 1931 Checker started to produce the Suburban, a station-wagon type vehicle to be used as an ambulance, hearse and a truck. These vehicles were all discontinued by 1934.

In 1933, E. L. Cord had control of Checker and used the Kalamazoo plant to build the Saf-T-Cab. This lasted until 1936, when Markin regained control of Checker. Other commercial vehicles built by Checker included buses and smaller stretched vehicles called the Aerobus.

Checker began production of passenger cars in a significant way in 1959 and together with Checker taxi-cabs these were built until 1982. Checker Motors Corporation had manufactured Cadillac parts for General Motors and continued to do so until January 2009. The last Checker taxicab went out of service in New York City in 2010.

Emblems

The first taxi cabs produced by Commonwealth Motors in 1920 are likely to have displayed the Commonwealth radiator emblem, see example shown below, but I cannot confirm this. If  you have details of a different emblem, please let me know in order to update this post.

The Commonwealth taxi cab is believed to have used this radiator emblem (1920-1922)  mjs
Size: 94mm wide 47mm high    MM: D L Auld

The first Checker Cab Manufacturing Company taxi cab used a circular radiator emblem finished in green and black enamel, see example below. This Checker radiator emblem is rare.

This is a Checker Model H2 radiator emblem (1922-1923)     gcm
Size: 55mm diameter    MM: Unknown

When the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company moved to Kalamazoo in 1923, the Checker radiator emblem was changed, see the black and green enamel example shown below. This Checker radiator emblem is rare.

This is a Checker radiator emblem (1923-c1925)    chw
Size: 58mm wide 58mm high    MM: None

The Checker radiator emblem was later changed to the red, black and green enamel Checker radiator emblem shown at the top of this post. This Checker radiator emblem is also rare.

The following Checker radiator emblem was attached to the top of the radiator grille in 1931 and had a light attachment behind so that the emblem was illuminated at night. This Checker radiator emblem is rare.

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This is a Checker radiator emblem which covered a light fitting (1931)   mjs
Size: 90mm high 71mm wide     MM: None

The following photos show the radiator and hub emblems displayed on the only surviving Checker Model M, which was seen at the Gilmore Car Museum. The radiator emblem is not original, as this Model M has been restored and the emblem appears to be an emblem used on Checker cabs in the 1980's.  The hub emblem, however, appears to be original.

Probably incorrect radiator emblem shown on a Checker Model M cab (1931)     gcm
Size: Unknown    MM: Unknown

This is a Checker Model M hub emblem (1931)     gcm

The following Checker emblem matches the hub emblem shown above and may be the correct 1931 radiator emblem, although I cannot confirm this.  This Checker radiator emblem is scarce.

This is a Checker radiator emblem (c1931)     mjs
Size: 67mm high 53mm wide     MM: Unknown

The Checker radiator emblem design was changed again in the 1930's, see examples shown below. These Checker radiator emblems are all rare.

This is a Checker radiator emblem (c1933)    ms
Size: 110mm high 45mm wide   MM: Unknown


This is a Checker Model T radiator emblem (1933)    acdm
Size: 110mm high 45mm wide   MM: Unknown

This is a Checker radiator emblem (1930's)   sam
Size: 129mm high 50mm wide    MM: Unknown

This is a Checker radiator emblem (1936)     gcm
Size: 110mm high  MM: Unknown

The Checker Model A2 cab appeared after the Second World War and carried a new painted pressed metal radiator emblem design, see example below. This Checker radiator emblem is scarce.

This is a Checker Model A2 radiator emblem (1948-1950)     mjs
Size: 138mm high 76mm wide     MM: Unknown

The Checker Model A4 was introduced in 1950 and did not have a radiator emblem. Instead the Checker Model A4 displayed a "Checker" script on the nose of the hood, see below. This script was also used on the Checker Model A6 made in 1953 and 1954.

This is a Checker cab showing a hood script (1950-1954)    ms

There were no Checker cabs built in 1955 but a new Checker Model A8 cab appeared in 1956 with new emblems displayed on the hood and at the rear, see examples below:

This is a Checker Model A8 Standard hood emblem (1956)     mjs
Size: 134mm wide 98mm high    MM: HALL

This is a Checker Model A8 Special hood emblem (1956)     mjs
Size: 134mm wide 98mm high     MM: HALL

The following photo shows the front emblem from a 1951 Transit Bus made by the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company. This Checker bus emblem is rare.

This is a Checker Transit Bus emblem (1951)     aacam

The following is a painted metal Checker emblem but I cannot confirm the dates of use nor the taxi model that used this emblem. If you can help to identify this Checker emblem, please let me know in order to update this post.

This is a Checker emblem (dates unknown)     mjs
Size: 164mm wide 51mm high      MM: None









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