Classic Motor Show - Lahti, Finland
May 6-7, 2017
About 60 miles north of Helsinki
This Checker A2 will be shown at the Classic Motor Show in Finland on May 6 and 7, 2017. The text below is provided as a courtesy to those who do not speak Finnish but may wish to attend this show.
Transliterated by George Laszlo - CCCoA
Note: The following is NOT a word for word translation. Some sentences were left out in their entirety. Also, some of the history noted in the article may not necessarily be completely accurate. The original article in Finnish can be found here.
Among the myriad of cars to be presented at the Classic Motor Show at Lahti Fair Center, during the first weekend of May, will be the only restored 1948 Checker A2 car in the world.
The Checker Association (of Finland) has completed its multi-year restoration project of this Checker A2 car. The project started about eight years ago with plans to finance it through fund raising. This approach proved less than successful.
"The owners were forced to finance it. There is also a yearly celebration where tickets are sold and lottery tickets have been made. The car is now ready, but the debt is still to be paid," said Paul Savunen.
The history of the two Checker cars in the exhibition is interesting.
The Mayor of Helsinki Erik von Frenckell and Minister Onni Hiltunen noticed that when the 1952 Olympic Games were approaching, the country's taxi fleet was ill prepared to meet the expected demand. To fix the situation, it was decided to purchase Checker taxis from the United States.
A delegation was sent to the United States to choose vehicles to be imported into Finland. Ultimately, the delegation bought some 500 used Checker A2 cabs [on behalf of taxi drivers] built between1946-49, that were no longer in service. The cars were shipped [in small batches] to Finland in 1951-52.
"I think that the men [in the delegation] were hit by a so-called "fever-blindness”. "They went off with a lot of money, and then started to realize that they got used cars from the backyard lot for more than it would have cost for new ones," noted Paul Savunen.
The Checker factory [and Checker Taxi Company] changed cars every few years in the United States. [The old] ones were stored in the back yard before being scrapped. This tells us why there are hardly any [of these old] Checkers in the world.
The car journey to Finland proved to be fatal to the Checkers. The extra loadings and unloadings made during the shipment and the damage caused by [weather conditions] at sea ruined a large part of the cars. The condition of the Checkers arriving in Finland was therefore a great disappointment to those who were there [to receive them]. Officially, the bad condition of cars was explained by cargo damage, but there are other reports.
"In our Spring Checker magazine is cited an open letter sent to the Finnish State by the Checker plant, where the factory apologizes for what happened, because they thought cars were to be bought into scrap," says Savunen.
Nevertheless, during the 1950s and 1960s, Checkers were used throughout Finland and became part of our country's vehicle history. Not many of these cars are left [in Finland]. There are two cars on display at the show.
Checker cars were manufactured by the American Checker Motors Corporation in Kalamazoo, Michigan between 1922-82. The cars were primarily made for taxi cabs in large cities. Only about 5,000 of the A2 models were made.