Everyone greets the inspector in his driveway

Kay and Dave Phillips with their 1975 Checker Marathon. Phillips thought her husband was crazy when he bought a car from the Checker taxi company. It became, in his words, “the funniest car of all.”


Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

Kay Phillips,

70, owner with her husband,


of a working farm in High Point, North Carolina, in its 1975 Checker Marathon, as told A.J. Baime

My husband, Dave, was the one who wanted a Checker. He was inspired by the Checker taxis he had seen in New York City. He was always creative; At that time, he ran his own fabric manufacturing business. [Mr. Phillips, years later, became U.S. ambassador to Estonia.]

One day he told me: “I’m going to buy you a new car.” When he told me what I had in mind, I told him I was crazy. He took me to a taxi company in Durham, North Carolina, and through that taxi company we ordered a car from the Checker taxi in Kalamazoo, Mich. [The Checker Motors Corp. built huge fleets of taxis for much of the 20th century, ending production in 1982; the Marathon model was aimed more at consumers.] My husband asked me to choose a color, so I said, “How about the navy blue?” It was all strange.

Photos: it’s not a taxi, it just looks like one

A woman from North Carolina shows the 1975 Checker Marathon made by the company famous for making taxis

Kay “Kayroe” Phillips led her children in the 1970s and 1980s at the 1975 Checker Marathon. She is pictured with her grandchildren Davis, left and Katherine.

Jeremy M. Lange for The Wall Street Journal

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Some time later, in 1976, I was mowing the lawn when this Checker Marathon entered my driveway. I thought: “My God!” We lived in a small town. This was different. Everything was very funny.

I smoked back then. There was only one ashtray, next to the driver’s seat, 2 by 2 inches. I thought, this will never work. Then the taxi salesman screwed the ashtrays on the other doors. My husband called me by a nickname, Kayroe, so I painted in small letters on the driver’s side, “Kayroe’s Cab Company.”

My children loved that car. They went to school in her. They attended horse shows. I changed the diapers on the seats. In Halloweens, before this was against the rules, I could put 14 children in the back. The car became a member of the family. Everyone knew everyone at High Point, and people always knew where he was by that car. Once, while driving through the city, a friend saw me and shouted: “Taxi!”

Recently, after about 40 years, my husband decided to redo the Checker. Dave has a friend who works in race cars and this man stripped the car. When my children were young, the car was very simple. Now it has beautiful leather and it smells delicious. It has a movie screen that folds from the ceiling, for the rear seats. We wanted to be safety conscious too. When our children are at home for the holidays, they love to see the car, and now our grandchildren have begun to travel in it.

When my husband came up with the idea of ​​buying a Checker in 1975, I thought I was crazy. But it turned out to be the funniest car of all.

Write to A.J. Baime at [email protected]

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