June 18, 1923 – The first Kalamazoo Checker Cab

If you were in Kalamazoo, Michigan on this day in 1923 and you would likely witness the first Checker Cab rolling off the new Checker production facility in that city, a major milestone for the young cab company. Checker Cab Manufacturing Company originally came to be in 1921 after Morris Markin, owner of a tailor shop and auto body repair business, loaned a friend $15,000 to support an automobile manufacturing business. The friend was unable to pay him back so instead gave him ownership of the company. That business, Commonwealth Motor Company, had been manufacturing regular passenger cars at a Joliet, Illinois facility, but Markin halted that production in favor of Taxis. By the end of 1922 the company was producing more than 100 taxis per month, with more than 600 of their units on the streets of NYC. In order to support the growing need for taxis a larger manufacturing facility was needed and Markin settled on a plant in Kalamazoo formally housing Handley-Knight Company and Dort Body Plant car manufacturers. The first cars rolled off the assembly line on June 18, 1923, a huge feat for the company that employed more than 700 people. Following WWII Checker broke into the private passenger car market with models being released in the late 1950s. Due to the economic depression and gas shortages of the 1970s the large Checker Marathons were no longer cab company favorites, instead converting smaller, gas friendly cars to taxis for their fleets. The last Checker Cab rolled out of the Kalamazoo factory on July 12, 1982.  Photos1923 Checker H-2 courtesy conceptcarz(dot)com.The very last Checker to roll off the assembly line in Kalamazoo wearing green and cream with Checker’s trademark checkerboard trim. It is currently at the Gilmore Museum in Kalamazoo. By Kevin S. Forsyth – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

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