Keeping Your Checker On The Road
Copyright 2018 - Andy Taylor. Used with permission.
Thoughts for the New Year - 2018
As our Checkers (and we) will be another year older, it’s going to require that we think out of the box to keep these cars on the road.
It’s been 36 years since the last Checker rolled off the Kalamazoo line. Sadly, the line, buildings and lots of good people associated with the building of the car are now gone.
The remaining Checkers have far surpassed their designed life expectancy. Many of the original materials to build them have reached the end of their usable life. That means that issues must be addressed that weren't an issue 20 years ago.
In addition to the rust (something these cars are known for), in most cases it is good to replace all rubber and vinyl goods, seats, window channels, headliners, radiators, seals, and glass (even if good, many are fogged around the edges). All of these need to be sourced.
Some rebuilders (including myself) have decided to take advantage of the modern technology (such as brake/upgrades or LS series engines) to greatly improve safety, dependability and drive ability.
If the car is to be used mainly for transportation, it’s my opinion that upgrading the car will not decrease its value, as long as the changes are reversible, and the car can be returned to stock if so desired.
A car seldom driven, would do well to remain stock, especially if it’s in good shape to start with. Understand that putting a car back to stock often costs much more, and often will not perform as well as the original technology. But to each his own.
There still are a lot of Checkers out there and 90% of them need work. I’m thinking many are off the radar, and many unknown cars surface each year. Most people knew that Checkers are unique, and most people instinctively held on to them.
As the years go by, we will face new challenges to keep these cars on the road. And Checkerheads, to that end, can help. There is a lot of knowledge within this group. Many questions are answered within minutes of being posted on line!
Old adverts and shop manuals will have less of a role as time goes on. Today's restorations require much more and new and far superior techniques are available.
It is now 2018. I would bet that Morris Markin (in his wildest dreams) would never have guessed that these cars would still be chugging along, and still ready to do their job if called upon.
Additional Comments from Facebook contributors:
Chris Richert: My goal is aimed towards the daily driver. Luckily, the Checker uses drive train parts that are still available at the autoparts store, even though they may not be listed. I drive mine nearly 50 miles a day, and often venture out on trips into city traffic etc. As far as Im concerned, this is my car. My family rides in it. I go grocery shopping in it. I have many other cars, but this one is who I am. A list of all readily available interchangeable parts shall be compiled. Those that are not will be examined for possible repair or fitment. Andy has done this a thousand times over. Together, we will all make it happen!
Carl Salatino: Hey...just think..the last Studebaker rolled off the line in 66. No shortage of parts,many nos parts appearing everyday..many reproductions, of different parts, huge network of owners, vendors, largest single marque club.