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Stretched Volkswagen Rabbit Is A Checker Taxi Prototype

By Jeffrey N. Ross Nov 24, 2019
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By Jeffrey N. Ross Nov 24, 2019
Checker's future didn't look good after this failed prototype.

We've all seen or at least heard of the Checker Motor Company thanks to the iconic taxis, but what you probably didn't know is that the company's next-gen taxi was almost based on a stretched Volkswagen Rabbit. Even more bizarre than the idea of a stretched VW taxi is the fact that the car you see here was built as the only prototype, and it ended up a barn find years later. Deutsche Auto Parts got the scoop on this one-of-one Rabbit at this year's Waterfest – a two-day event in New Jersey dedicated to VWs and Audis – from the owner himself.

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As the story goes, this car was created in the 1970s as a prototype for a replacement of the Checker Taxi, which was in production from 1958 until 1982. The car started out as a typical "swallowtail" Rabbit (a rare version distinguished by wing-shaped creases near the taillights), and the wheelbase was stretched by 21 inches to add maximum rear-passenger legroom. The plan was for the Rabbits to roll off the assembly line fully built and then be shipped to Kalamazoo, Michigan for added stretch.

Not surprisingly, the small VW Rabbit was deemed to be "not suitable" for taxi duty, and the project was scrapped. Fortunately, the sole prototype of this program was not scrapped. This car ended up in storage where it sat for years before being rescued by its current owner, but not before mice infested the cabin and the engine and transmission seized up. Talk about the craziest VW barn find ever!

It's in pretty rough shape, but it should make for an incredibly unique piece once it has been restored. Speaking of the restoration, there's apparently yellow paint underneath that dirty gray paint job, and the owner plans to restore it back to original.


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