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Hagerty Employee

This last-surviving 1939 Art Deco Checker marks the high point of taxi design

The late 1930s was an extraordinary time in automobile design, thanks to the Art Deco movement. In France, Figoni and Falaschi created elegant “teardrop” coupes and roadsters, while Italy’s Alfa Romeo and Czechoslovakia’s Tatra explored aerodynamic forms.


Meanwhile, America flirted with concept cars like the Chrysler Thunderbolt, Buick “Y-Job,” and Rust Heinz’s menacing Cord Phantom Corsair. Some extreme designs made it into production, like the 1938–39 Graham “Sharknose” sedans, although their striking frontal aspect fizzled out at the rear.


But the most outrageous production sedan comes from an unlikely source: Checker, the car maker from Kalamazoo, Michigan, known for indestructible taxicabs.


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Such a wild looking design. Modern car companies please take note.

Pit Crew

I never found anything to like about Checker cabs.  They were ugly, build quality was horrible, rattles and squeaks were the norm, interiors were beyond spartan, etc.  But this article gave me a new sense of appreciation for earlier models.  Thanx.


I've only ridden in one Checker cab and that was in Las Vegas. We hailed three hacks to whisk us from a hotel/casino to a "gentleman's" (!!) club for a bachelor party. Horrible rear seat and I think the sole of one shoe was still stuck to the floor of that thing when it was finally crushed. Ah, the good old days...


"High point of Taxi Design"?    You've got to be kidding!

This is the ugliest car I have ever seen.  The front end is scary!