The American Automobile Industry in World War Two
An American Auto Industry Heritage Tribute
By David D Jackson

Overview
The U.S. Auto Industry at the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1944
The U.S. Auto Industry and the B-29 Bomber   U.S. Auto Industry Army-Navy "E" Award Winners   The Complete listing of All Army-Navy "E" Award Winners   Sherman Tanks of the American Auto Industry   Tank Destroyers of the American Auto Industry    M26 Pershing Tanks of the American Auto Industry

    Automobile Manufacturers:  American Bantam Car Company   Checker   Chrysler   Crosley   Ford   General Motors   Graham-Paige   Hudson
   Nash-Kelvinator   Packard      Studebaker    Willys-Overland

General Motors Divisions
(Undergoing development) Aeroproducts   Brown-Lipe-Chapin   Buick   Cadillac   Chevrolet   Cleveland Diesel   Delco Appliance   Delco Products   Delco Radio   Delco-Remy   Detroit Diesel   Detroit Transmission   Electro-Motive   Fisher Body   Frigidaire   GM Proving Grounds   GM of Canada   Guide Lamp   Harrison Radiator   Hyatt Bearings   Inland   Moraine Products   New Departure   Oldsmobile   Packard Electric   Pontiac   Saginaw Malleable Iron   Southern California Division   Rochester Products   United Motors Service

Truck Manufacturers:   American LaFrance   Autocar  Diamond T   International Harvester    Mack Truck
   Pacific Car and Foundry  Reo Motor Car Company   Ward LaFrance Truck Corporation   White Motor Company

Automotive Tire
Manufacturers:  Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
 Updates and Additions  
Links

 

Checker Car Company in World War Two / WWII
Kalamazoo, MI
1922-2009
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 bankrupt.

Checker Car Company World War Two / WWII Production:  Truck cabs for Ford Motor Company, 1/4 ton trailers, one ton trailers (CC-5A), one 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 exists. 

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 Car Museum.


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 added 7-28-2014.


Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added 7-28-2014.


Photo courtesy of Mark Speir and added 7-28-2014.


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 Ian Maddock.


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 Museum.


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 photo.


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.

 

 

 

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