Perhaps the most impressive fleet of Checker outside of the US is the fleet owned by John Bell in Australia. John runs quite a business with his Checkers. Of the five Checker cabs, four are now in service with one still under restoration. Last summer we reported that “Bell has plans for more. He is looking to secure an even rarer model, a 12-seat “Aerobus,” in the near future.” We’re happy to report that John has secured a Checker Aerobus 15 from ICTA member Gary Michaels. For those not familiar with the Aerobus 15, it’s a larger sedan based Aerobus manufactured between 1976-1977.
In 1975-1976 Checker started to look into options to develop new models for the entire Checker line. The Aerobus was cancelled in 1974, but despite this, it did not stop demand, many commercial operators looked to Checker to come up with a replacement model. The second generation Aerobus was unofficially called the Aerobus 15. The prototype looked like any other post 1958 Checker and like the Aerobus, it had eight doors, but there is a major difference from the first generation Aerobus.
According to form CMC Plant General Manager and Head of Engineering John Logan “A year after the Checker wagon & the Aerobus was cancelled, John Love, VP of CMC, stated in a staff meeting one morning, we need a 15 passenger Aerobus. No one commented, except yours truly. “I said why don’t we build one?”. This caught David’s (CEO David Markin) attention and he asked, how are we going to do that? I explained we can build a 8 door Aerobus with a standard rear end with the extended, 9 inch rear door and export aux. seats. After some discussion, David says, Build One. I with help of some key union people built a prototype. David approved it and we built 46 more that year & 60 the next year.”
The Aerobus 15 was designed based off of a long wheel base A12E platform, not a A12W wagon platform. From an overall size perspective, the Aerobus 15 is slightly larger than th original Aerobus, but the extra foot in length allowed for three additional passenger capacity for the new Aerobus. The Aerobus 15 was technically a more efficient vehicles from a passenger cost standpoint, the new Aerobus could carry more passengers with marginal impact on gas mileage
Gary listed his Checker Aerobus on the ICTA Checkers For Sale section. Via this ICTA listing, John was connected with Gary and the negotiations started. The transaction complete, John shipped the Checker to Austrailia.
Now in Australia, John has started the restoration required to put the Checker Aerobus into service. The photos indicate that overall the condition is very good. Being a west coast Checker, its fairly free of rust.The interior now gutted, it appears that the floors are quite solid. If John restores this unit to his typical high standards, this car will be a stand out for any event. We’ll keep you posted as John makes progress on the restoration.