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Four-Links – Checker, DM Nacional, buried A, warlord’s auto dollar

Published in blog.hemmings.com

This year marks the centennial of Checker Taxi — the cab company, not the manufacturing company. It’s a little confusing, but the Internet Checker Taxicab Archive lays out the history of how Checker grew from a co-op of cab drivers to a vicious and violent rivalry with Yellow taxi to a company butting up against antitrust charges.

As Markin expanded Checker Cab Manufacturing he sought control of other cab-operating companies in several cities, including New York City, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh. This assured sales of Checker in major cities across the country.

Once Markin gained control of Checker Taxi in Chicago, a significant rivalry ensued, the competition between Checker Taxi and Yellow Cab. By the Twenties, Yellow was producing its own purpose built taxicab called the “Yellow Cab” and was the largest operator in Chicago. Run by John Hertz, Yellow Cab was also franchising operation all over the U.S.

The competition in Chicago was fierce. More than a competition, the battle between to two companies lead to the Chicago Taxi Wars.

* Geoff Hacker this week reminded us all of the sport custom creations from DM Nacional, Mexico’s premier (only?) coachbuilder.

DM Nacional cars were special cars — hand-built and/or customized, and some having coachbuilt bodies that were completely original in their design. DM Nacional built automobiles for approximately 5 years (1950-1955) and produced custom cars, sports cars, and sport custom cars — something for everyone’s taste and each one an individualized design.

In many ways, the story of DM Nacional parallels the story of Spohn in Germany who designed and built custom cars for mostly the American GI/military market. American GI’s would have their cars designed and built while stationed overseas (mostly in Germany) and ship them stateside at the end of their tour. Only two companies located overseas did this type of work. That is, built what we would consider custom cars in limited numbers for the American market — Spohn and DM Nacional.

* Quenton Foulke’s been digging up a Ford Model A from his grandfather’s property, and the internet’s cheering him on.

When I was six years old my granddad showed me this model a cab I was buried deep in the soil it is been here over 40+ years. I tried to dig it out once when I was seven years old but I wasn’t strong enough to move all the dirt I’m 23 years old now by the time I got back to it you couldn’t even tell ever even tried.

I figured I would start at it as everyone pulled along and we got deeper into this I realized how important this thing became to everybody I knew at that point I couldn’t stop I had to do it not only for myself but for my granddad all the people that believe in me and every single hot rodder out there.”

* Chinese warlord Zhou Xicheng apparently commissioned the first coin to feature an automobile on it, back in 1928. And, according to legend, the hubris of such a move — not to mention his fondness for the automobile that served as a model for the coin — led to his downfall, according to PCGS.

Xicheng wanted to celebrate the completion of the highway by having his likeness placed on what is now known as the 1928 Auto Dollar coin. However, his personal advisors strongly urged him not to, as they predicted that if he had his own image on a coin, he would be killed. The warlord finally gave in on not having his image placed on the 1928 Auto Dollar coin. However, he didn’t completely give up on the notion of having his legacy on the coin and he still ordered to have his personal car designed on the coin. Surprisingly, he also had his name Zhou Xicheng secretly inscribed within the coin’s design.

So ultimately, the warlord had his own coin struck, with his own car’s image on it and also bearing his name. On the following year it is said that the warlord Zhou Xicheng was driving his automobile on the road that he constructed. He then sped up and left his troops at a distance behind him. Shockingly, he was ambushed by rebel enemy troops and, while trying to escape, he ran out of his car and was left dead on the grass on the side of the road. Were his advisors right by warning him not to put his name or legacy on a coin or was it mere coincidence?

* Paul Schilperoord’s documentary on Josef Ganz, the Jewish designer behind the Standard Superior Beetle predecessor, is set to debut next month. From the film’s IMDB summary:

Ganz tells the incredible true story of Josef Ganz, an automotive inventor and visionary who was one of the first people to recognize the car’s potential to improve the average individual’s life. However, in Hitler’s ambitious Volkswagen plan, there was no place for a Jewish designer: Ganz had to run for his life, leaving everything behind. From his exile, he saw his design be developed and refined into the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most popular and successful cars in history. When he died years later, he was a forgotten man. In the film, present-day stories told by Ganz’s ancestors and fans intertwine with the story of Ganz’s life itself, restoring Ganz’s lost legacy and bringing it into today’s world.

* And finally, the Modern Time Machines’s video for their latest song “Malaise for Days” features plenty of Seventies and Eighties automobiles front and center.