Originally published as part of a “Check Your Mirrors” post in November 2006
By Brendan Moore
CHECKER produced its last Checker Marathon in 1982, but that hasn’t stopped the cars from being used still in current print ads, commercials and films. Apparently the car was such an iconic figure of urban life that the media types still want the car in their ads. The recognizable Checker was used as a taxi in almost every major city in the United States, and even well after production ceased, Checker Marathons roamed the streets for years afterward because of their noted durability. It was not unusual for a Checker to have close to a million miles on the odometer when it was finally taken out of service. As an example, the very last Checker Marathon registered on a taxi medallion in New York City was retired in 1999, seventeen years after the last Marathon rolled off the line.
Most people don’t know it, but you could also buy a Checker Marathon for yourself, that is, for private use. Any color was available, in any of 4 body styles, with any amount of the options that Checker offered. Checker never sold more than 1230 in one year to “civilians” as the company categorized those buyers, and a typical year’s worth of sales to private owners was somewhere around 400 units.
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