To Top

Museum: Gilmore Car Museum & The “Checker” BRC-40

• CATEGORIES: Features, Museums

The Gilmore Car Museum in Kalamazoo, Mi, “includes eight historic barns, a re-created 1930s service station, a small town train station, and nearly three miles of paved roads.”  This complex houses a large and diverse collection of automobiles and automobile memorabilia in a truly unique setting.

One of the vehicles housed at the Gilmore is one of three BRC-40s assembled (or built or rumored to have been built) by the Checker Automotive Company.  I’ve looked into the various bits of information about the Checkers and there seems to be no better summary of the status of these unusual BRC Prototypes than what Bill Spears, who has written extensive about Bantams and early Jeeps, wrote in a Hemmings Blog Comment about the Checker:

The Checker ‘episode’ is still one of the great mysteries of the jeep story and I cannot figure out for the life of me why…. In Kalamazoo it is widely assumed that the Checker was built there from Bantam plans. Karl Pobst’s notes indicate that he did indeed send Checker the blue prints in three installments (and I would REALLY like to get my hands on those and I suspect they are still at Checker) but, my information is that three jeeps, two of them four wheel steering, were sent to Checker from Butler and they arrived in boxes as for shipping overseas. There is nothing at all to indicate in the Checker I had that it differed in anyway from a regular Bantam BRC. All the parts cast with Bantam numbers etc. However all the jeeps were completely disassembled for reverse engineering as it were to try to cost out the job. The parts were all put in a pile, then the cars were reassembled without regard for which parts went were. Thus, my car had a 4 wheel steer column, but it was two steer. One was sent to the Army and wrecked in testing.The car at the Gilmore still belongs to the Stout family I believe. Jim Stout, who knew what he was doing restored the car, but in a way tried to disguise it, and it sat in the Checker lobby for years as a Kalamazoo built car. I think Stout made an interesting contribution in making it possible to turn OFF the 4 wheel steering feature, but, the 4 steers were never really produced. If anyone has any information or leads I would sure appreciate hearing about it.

I found some good images of the “Checker” at the Gilmore museum from remarkablecars.com:

Bill Spears has an extensive discussion about Checker and Bantam with images:

https://wmspear.com/Bantam/excker.html

The olive-drab.com site also has some archival images and information on the Checkers:

http://www.olive-drab.com/idphoto/id_photos_bantam_checker.php

http://www.olive-drab.com/od_mvg_www_jeeps_bantam_brc40.php

 

4 Comments on “Museum: Gilmore Car Museum & The “Checker” BRC-40

  1. Brett

    This might be a dumb question or that i’m sick and cant think, but on the sign (last pic), what do you think they meant when they say “steering….all wheel” ?

  2. Brett

    arrgh, can i retract that last comment! guilty (i didnt fully read the story) wow i didnt know there were any vehicles out there with 4 wheel steering till the last 15-20 years.

  3. deilers

    Here is an article about 4wd steering. http://www.jpmagazine.com/thehistoryof/5463/index.html

    The Nash Quad was one of the earliest 4wd vehicles.

    8 of the first 60 Bantam BRC-60s were four wheel steering
    Ford built 50 GP four wheel steering vehicles

    I thought the Willys had a couple models with 4wheel steering. It looks like I’ll need to do more research and make a post related to this.

    - D

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe without commenting