Checker's plan is to revive the iconic taxi design with new body styles and technology.
Checker Motor Cars has been, as they say in modern times, rebooted. The creators of the iconic New York taxi plan to produce two new vehicles based on the classic design starting in 2018.
The original Checker Motor Car company was founded in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1922 and operated until 1982. Its most recognizable car was the Marathon and Taxi (the passenger car and fleet version of essentially the same vehicle) a design that debuted in 1961 and lasted for over two decades.
Now, according to Hemmings Motor News, Checker Motor Cars has been restarted in Massachusetts and will build two new vehicles playing off of the retro design. Ironically, the 4-door sedan is not one of them, because there are already other companies building replicas of those. Instead, the two body styles will be a six-door, 12-passenger limousine, and an El Camino-like ute.
The cars will run GM's flex-fuel LS-series V8 engines but a diesel option will be available. The standard drivetrain will be rear-wheel-drive but all-wheel-drive will be an option as well. All vehicles will use modern technology such as four-wheel disc brakes and LED lighting. In addition, Checker will begin manufacturing kits that can retrofit onto older Checker cars. According to the report, about 40 percent of parts and the steel frame itself will be interchangeable with original Checkers.
This is all made possible as a result of the Low-Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act of 2015. Under this law, low-volume replica builders — Checker expects to make 300 to 500 limos per year — are not subject to crash testing, or emissions testing provided that they use an EPA-approved engine.
The article quotes Steve Contarino, head of the new Checker Motor Cars company, as saying, "We will not automate any component that can be made by hand." All cars will be build in the US and Contarino expects to create 50 to 100 new jobs. He expects the limo and ute to be priced in "the upper $50,000 and upper $40,000 ranges, respectively."