4 June 2006
This lot is offered without a reserve
The last Checker Cab to be in active service in New York City
1978 CHECKER MARATHON FOUR DOOR SEDAN 'TAXI CAB'- 'Janie'
Chassis No. A11299882936E
Yellow with black interior
Left hand drive
In 1922 the Checker Cab Manufacturing Company began production of taxi cabs in Joliet, Illinois. Shortly thereafter the company moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan where the work remained. During this time Checker produced a line of taxi cabs which met New York City's 1929 ordinance that all taxis must be able to carry five passengers behind the partition. During the period of 1956 - 1982 Checker manufactured what is now synonymous with their name, the classic 1950s four door sedan. Production soared and several thousand chugged through the streets of New York and many other large cities. Equipped with high doors allowing passengers easy and considerably more graceful access, they were also fitted with a pair of jump seats meeting the five passenger requirement. Additional room was available for baggage and the ride was notoriously smooth. This was New York's answer to London's Austin taxi and is thus forever linked.
In 1982, production of the Checker Cab ceased and the numbers in New York City began to dwindle. It was at this time that the number of traditionally owner-operated taxis waned and mass-fleets began. As expected, there was one exceptional individual who remained steadfast to his beloved taxi and way of life: Earl Johnson and his taxi 'Janie'. They worked together as a pair for twenty-one years driving the likes of Walter Cronkite and Muhammad Ali. 'Janie' was similarly used for special events including weddings and anniversaries. Finally in July 26, 1999 retirement beckoned and Mr. Johnson and 'Janie' went out of service - effectively ending the era of Checker Cabs in New York. Shortly thereafter, 'Janie' was acquired by its current owner from a Sotheby's auction in December 1999.
Since then 'Janie' has been lightly used but understandably appreciated wherever it has traveled. Still retaining all the features of a New York City taxi such as the roof light, meter, jump seats, partition and medallion information, this taxi very much embodies its storied history. Once in the thousands, now very limited, this slice of New York history provides a remarkably fun opportunity for its next custodian.
Contact Client Service
New York +1 212 636 2000
London +44 (0)20 7839 9060
Asia +852 2760 1766
This lot is offered without reserve.
Please note that the title for this car will be available four to six weeks after the sale.
As an iconic 1972 model is offered online, we explain why this pioneering steel sports watch is so prized by collectors
Socialite and reality TV star Mark-Francis Vandelli brings his unique sense of theatre to The Collector auctions