Checker Car Company
in World War Two / WWII
Rest in Peace
This page last updated 10-22-2014.
Checker was known for its taxi cabs and I
remember growing up as a child seeing them on the streets in Lansing,
MI. I always thought they looked a lot like a universal mid 50's
Chevrolet. The company stopped making taxicabs in 1981
but was still a supplier to the auto industry until 2009 when it went
Checker Car Company World War Two / WWII Production:
Truck cabs for Ford Motor Company, 1/4 ton trailers, one ton trailers
ton 250 gallon water trailers, petroleum tank
trailers, (344) M9 45 ton tank trailers, artillery trailers and Army Signal
Corps bodies. Also mentioned in the literature is a tank recovery
vehicle. Checker had about 800 employees on the payroll during
World War Two.
Also Checker made three prototype Jeeps for
the original competition. It was a four wheel steering design and
when tested was considered to be unsafe by the military. The
design for the body was then sold to Willys-Overland, which mated it
with its four truck chassis with became the basis for the famous Willys
World War Two jeep, and the one that is still made for the civilian
market today. One of the remaining Checker Car Company jeeps still
More needs to be researched on all of these
Checker products in the Second World War and will be in early 2014.
The only photographic evidence of Checker's World War Two products are
the one ton trailers shown below.
This is one a 1923 Checker H-2 taxicab and
is probably the oldest one still in existence. This can be seen at
the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI. Author's photo.
Pictured here at the National Military
History Center in Auburn, IN is an M9 45 ton trailer designed to
transport tanks over the road to the combat zone while being pulled by
Diamond T M20 truck. Checker produced 344 of the 6,143 produced by
five different manufacturers. This particular example was built by
one of the other companies. Author's photo added 10-22-2014.
Author's photo added 10-22-2014.
This is only one of two photos that have
been found to date depicting a Checker World War Two product. This
is a TW-6 one ton trailer.
This may be a post WWII photo of one ton
trailers being shipped out. Checker also apparently made these
during the Korean conflict also. Author's photo from the Gilmore
This former WWII US Army Signal Corps K-35
trailer was delivered to the US Army on 9-23-1942. As of July 2014
it is now the property of Mark Speir in New Mexico. Mark was able
to purchase the trailer before it was scrapped out. Previously it
had been used by the Forest Service as a command trailer. The
kerosene tank and chimney for the furnace inside were not part of the
original Signal Corps trailer. Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and
Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added
Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added
According to the above data plate the
maximum towing speed for the trailer was 45 mph. Photo
courtesy of Mark Speir and added 7-28-2014.
The next three photos were provided by Ian
Maddock show a well used and now dilapidated Checker one ton CC-5A
trailer. The date on the tag indicates it was built during WWII on
12-2-1943. Photo courtesy of Ian Maddock.
The trailer is located in the village of
Achenkirch in the Austrian Tyrol where it apparently was used to deliver
cut lumber from the sawmill it is located at. Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of Ian Maddock.
The end of the line! This is the last
Checker taxicab built and was produced on July 12, 1982.
Author's photo from the Gilmore Car
Here is an aerial photo of part of the
Checker manufacturing complex on North Pitcher Street in Kalamazoo after
WWII. While most of the complex has been razed a couple of the
buildings were still standing when I visited on December 1, 2013.
The stand-alone building at the bottom of the photo was still there as
of that date, along with the one just to the northwest and a small part
of the building in the upper right. This photo is looking north.
In photo above this is at the south end of
the long manufacturing plant that ran north just east of Pitcher Street.
It is no longer there. It is the same building that the Korean War
trailers were parked in front of as shown above.
The next four photos are from the author's
trip to Kalamazoo, MI on December 1, 2013. All photos are looking
east from Pitcher Street. This was the biggest building still
standing at the time and can be identified from the aerial shot above by
the brown brick tower that rises above the rest.
This obviously is Gate 1 and is at the south
end of the photo shown in the aerial shown above, although it is not
shown itself in the photo. From looking at current satellite
images it appears there may have been more buildings to the south of
this gate that were part of the complex and also razed.
There is the stand-alone building pictured
at the bottom and the one to the NW of it from the aerial photo.
Starting in 1958 Checker started producing
cars for the civilian market. This is a rare 1966 Marathon station
wagon with a GM 350 V-8 engine and GM 400 transmission. As seen at
the National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn, IN. Author's
Natmus has an excellent collection of
Checker cars and cabs, including this 1964 Marathon. Next to it is
a diesel powered Checker cab. Author's photo.