They Crossed the Finish Line: David Markin

Checker Motors

Let us take a moment and remember Mr. David Markin, a man who had a passion for tennis and twice served as President of the United States Tennis Association (in 1989 and 1990), and was active with MorseLife, an organization that works to address the needs of senior citizens.

Why would he interest the readers of Motoring Exposure? I’m glad you asked. Mr. Markin served as the CEO and owner of the Checker Motors Corporation. Checker Motors – founded by Morris Markin, David Markin’s father – had been born of the merger between Commonwealth Motors and Markin Auto Body. Checker Motors may be best known for producing the taxis that roamed the American landscape for decades. That’s right, every mid-seventies movie car chase, hotel scene and post card has been adorned by the works of this man, Morris and David Markin.

1922 CheckerTaxi at The Chicago Auto Show

Launched to the public in 1958, Checker Motors began regional sales of its Superba and Marathon models in New England, but by 1960 had implemented national distribution. In 1962, nearly 20 percent of Checker’s production was sold to consumers, but by the early 1970s this had dropped to just 10 percent of its total production volume.

Under Markin’s leadership, which began when he took the reins of the company in July 1970, the bread-and-butter would be taxi cabs, which were produced from 1922 until 1982. The list of other businesses would include everything from a stamping business that provided body panels to Detroit’s big three automakers (and dated to the 1930s), to Yellow Cab of Chicago, to taxi-repair specialist Chicago Autoworks, to semi-trailer manufacturer Great Dane, to property and casualty insurer American Country Insurance Company.

Checker Taxi Cab

Checker Motors largely dominated the taxi cab business through the 1970s, but its product’s dated design and small-scale manufacturing ultimately left the automaker unable to compete with major competitors willing to extend volume discounts on more stylish and fuel-efficient alternatives. Ultimately, it was a combination of rising material costs, declining sales and increasing labor costs that left Checker with no other alternatives. Markin remained a director of the company until the 87-year-old company filed for bankruptcy and closed up shop in 2009.

David Markin passed away due to complications from a prior illness this past May at the age of 82.

David Markin


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