Where did you come across the Checker?
I actually acquired the Marathon this past December from a local cab company. They had good intentions to restore it one day – that never happened – and now I own it!
Any idea of the backstory to this car?
This Checker started out life as a brown limo, sold by a dealer in Florida by the name of Marvin Winkoff. Mr. Winkoff would trick-out his limousines with oval windows, opera lights and shag carpet – remember this was the ‘70s – but along the way it was painted yellow and pressed into taxi service in Chicago.
The taxi had been stored for eight years before I came along and really needed some tender loving care. The good news is that it was properly stored and had surprisingly very little rust. Many of these old Checker taxis didn’t survive service in the Northeast because the frames were made of a softer steel which salt attacked.
What’s going on under the hood?
Checker put a lot of different engines in their vehicles, mostly Chevy sixes and eights. My taxi is more of a ’55 Chevy on steroids. It’s powered by a 400ci four-barrel V8 making 365 horsepower, and runs a TH400 transmission.
How’s the restoration going?
It’s about 90 percent complete. Some highlights include a new vinyl top, acoustic foam headliner, and a carbon fiber dashboard. We added the acoustic foam because it makes the ride very quiet.
The jump seats are there. They fold down against the front seat. It’s not really legal to ride on them today, but they make for great foot rests! People are always surprised at the room inside this taxi.
Any future plans for the car?
It has been a fun project over the past couple months. Now that summer is here I enjoy taking my grandchildren for ice cream in it. People want a photo with it wherever I go!
I took it to the Sonic drive-in and I had a young boy and his grandmother come up to me and ask if they could take a picture with the taxi. The young man showed me a medal he had just won and he was beaming when we put the leather taxi driver cap on him for the photo.
My son and I have a hobby shop where we restore cars. The next car we’ll be working on is a 1973 BMW 2002. It’s at the shop right now with its engine out. When we’re done it will be an Alpina clone.
Hoyt’s highlighting his adventures in his Taxi on Facebook at Checker Taxi Stand.