Since arriving in Cape Town in January 2001 the restoration of the Checker started. The rather tired engine was completely overhauled and slightly souped up.


Eye catcher: The Chevy V 8 has, thanks to an Edelbrock manifold and Holly carb
about 300 hp. Previously painted metal is now chromed

Am I beautiful or not? The mighty alu bumpers had been polished, the luggage
compartment did get some carpeting and the reserve tire a real nice cover

Thanks to an Edelbrock manifold, Holly carb, K&N air filter and camlifter it has about 300 h.p. now, which makes 1/4 mile runs quite pleasant – despite the weight of the car. Several previously painted metal parts are now chromed or polished. Such as grille, headlight- and turn signal frames. The bumpers are polished – quite an exhausting job to get all the paint off! The two benches are now leather-upholstered. A powerful Pioneer audio system with a CD shuttle was also installed.


Before and after: the ugly, smelly and torn Vinyl was replaced by gorgeous and
skin-friendly leather (about 2 1/2 cows had to be skinned in the process – sorry!)

The back part of the car is already completely de-rusted, primed, painted and sealed.
The final and by far largest stage of the restoration started in December 2003 with taking the car apart,almost to the last bolt and nut for a complete and thorough paint-job. Layers of paint were sanded down. Doors and hood were left in acid baths for days to get rid of all the rust and colour bits.

Several layers of red oxide, black stone chip and primer were sprayed on body and chassis parts. And the largest single piece, the body shell went into the spray box. The “Yellow” turned out beautifully, a bit “warmer” than the “original” paint scheme. To be honest it is the “Porsche 12 C” colour. But don’t tell anyone.


The body is separated from the chassis – the engine bay looks horrible

Under more than a quarter century of soot we find a gearbox and beneath several
layers of different shades of yellow an “almost” rust-free body

The body after applying several layers of primer and on top of the chassis after
being sprayed twice with a beautiful yellow – look at this engine bay!

By the end of April 2004 the painted body was back on the chassis. Thanks to Joe Pollard in Los Angeles with new rubbers in between. The new leaf springs are in as well. Most of the cables are reconnected. The taxi sign is restored and polished. The dash and glovebox are restored. The black plastic vinyl part above the dash is now covered in black leather. All four wheels are restored and epoxyd. The new white wall tyres are mounted. Well, the taxi is starting to look like a car again.

The leaking steering box caused some concern, because after disassembling it, it was quite difficult to get the little steel balls back in again. The leak in the Hydramatic gearbox was caused by the loose connection of the speedo cable and should be fine now.

Final product:

After rechroming of the grille, the turn signal rings on the taxi sign and – as a special addition – the cover of the rear axle differential and the respraying of the rest of the body parts: fenders, doors, hood and trunk lid. Finally – another tricky one – after the return of all the windows – and the application of the new stickers: 1976 New York taxi fares, Checker Special and the famous Checker board around the roof line and along the upper doors the car was ready at the beginning of August 2004. New additions are the Checker badges and the large chrome stone shields replacing the small rubber ones on the rear fenders.

© Dieter Losskarn - words & images | travel - motoring - lifestyle