By Joseph C. Ingraham
July 28, 1958 Sunday Edition
Detroit – Next month another new insignia will join the long roster of nameplates of Ameircan built passengers automobiles and he public will be offered the Superba, a car that to a marked degree is the antithesis of everything the industry is believes the United States motoring public wants. The Superba is the passenger car version of the ubiquitous taxicabs that Checker Motors of Kalamazoo, Mich. made a familiar sight across the country in the last thirty-seven years.
Adapted from the study taxicab, the Superba actually has the same body and extra-heavy frame as the cab but it also has a completely new spring and suspension system that provides far more comfortable riding. The Superba’s new Continental six cylinder engine also gives more powerful performance, better pickup and more gas economy than the Checker cab.
Morris Markin President of Checker Motors Inc. says the Superba has been designed “to perform like a passenger car and take punishment like a taxicab.”
In their quest for a car to that stresses comfort and convenience more than high style, the Superba’s designers have produced an automobile that bears a striking resemblance to an old London taxicab . One of its most noticeable assets is the ease with which it can be entered by a tall man. It is nearly sixty-two inches high-five to seven inches higher than sleeker competitive makes.
It is also likely to easier and cheaper, to repair. The familiar built in fenders of late model cars costs $70 or $80 to repair when badly damaged. The Superba has a built in two-piece, bolt on fenders which can probably be repaired for less than $30.
The Superba has the same sloping hood line as the Checker cab that makes for good visibility, The windshield does not wrap around. Nor, says Mr. Markin is there any intention for following the standard industry practice of annual model changes. The car’s silhouette and trim probably will remain unaltered for at least three years as improved mechanical and engineering features are developed they will be quietly incorporated in the basic model. Interior designs of the Superba stresses comfort. In addition to ample headroom, there are wide doors, high seats and flat floor in the rear (No driveshaft tunnel) and foam rubber cushioned seats. Trunk space while sufficient has been sacrificed to allow more seating space and legroom inside the car.
A test ride in the Superba undertaken on the open road of Michigan, up modest hills and in Detroit’s congested traffic, showed that the car offers a good rig ender the carried highway conditions that a cross county motorist might expect. The Supeba’s six-cylinder engine has 140 horsepower fort-eight horsepower more than the Checker cab. This does not provide quick acceleration, but the car hugs the road solidly. It managed to keep up with traffic stream even at Michigan’s top highway speed of 65 miles per hour. It takes curves without sway.
Handling qualities are generally good but steering, even with power steering is harder than in other medium-prices cars. On the open road the Superba gives about twenty miles to the gallon: in city traffic, about fourteen.
The Superba is easier to park than most other cars of its size. While its 120 inch wheelbase is longer than Ford, Chevrolet or Plymouth the overall length is shorter 200 inches compared with 208-212 for the others. Its turning radius of thirty-seven feet is the shortest of any standard-size car now on the market.
The short turning circle is the key to easier paralle parking at the curb, as a result , the Superba an get into a vacant space that many other cars have to pass by.
According to a sampling of advance orders that have been trickling into the Checker plant, about 50 per cent of the Superbas will be sold with manual transmission. The list price is $2,541. With Automatic transmission a dual-range transmission similar to that offered by Ford as a $200 extra-and with power brakes, power steering and the usual optional extras such as heater and radio, the price will be about $500 more.
Mr. Markin is a rugged individualist who began his career in the garment business. Unlike the giants of the industry where workers are paid on an hourly basis, Mr. Markin pays his factory hands at more remunerative piece-work rates. He believes he can sell about 30,000 Superbas per year to a family type trade that wants comfort and ease of driving far more than the high style featured by the rest of the industry.
For the past three years weeks the company has been strike bound by an intra-union fight bound by an intra-union fight but company officials are optimistic that it will be settled shortly. At that time it is planned to resume testing a roomy station wagon for fall production. At present, only a four-door sedan model of the Superba in any one of six solid colors is available.
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