Checker Cab.

Have you seen the city’s proposed Taxi of Tomorrow? The insanely blah, humdrum rolling box that will be the uniform conveyance for all city riders next year? Yeesh. Bring back the Checker cab, man! That’s when taxis were cool.CheckerFrom the day it was rolled out in 1956 until the last day of production in 1982, the Checker Cab had one model: the A8 Marathon. In a town known for changing on a dime, for 26 consecutive years this taxi’s distinctive body went virtually unchanged. It was bulky looking. Bulbous. Built like some kind of ponderous tank with grand proportions, it was intended to be both spacious and durable. It was a prominently featured character in dozens of films for decades, because the thing fairly screamed “New York City.”TaxiDriverIt was a gas guzzler. It had a trunk the size of a studio apartment. The backseats were like a spring-loaded couch with deep cushy benches and opposing jump-seats. Jump seats! Those distinctive vertical tail lights. And unless you were a real pro, the only way to differentiate one from say, 1959 and 1979 would be some little things. You know, like seat belts. Not that you needed them, because not much was surviving a head-on with this hunk of yellow sheet metal.hojo-checker-1986-copyAnd I’ll admit, I may have a soft spot for the Checker because my great-grandfather Jacob Weiss drove one in the late 50’s. He was an immigrant, and I’m told he loved the job. I’m also told he really liked soft bread, he knew the streets like the back of his hand, and probably had no idea that one day taxis in this town would resemble a rolling Cheerios box. Oh, well. Progress!

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