Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

In the 1975 film of the same name, Dustin Hoffman's character paid dearly - or was it toothily - to be the Marathon Man. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe Checker Marathon is a lot easier on the teeth, but is its price still too dear?

Chrysler's Sebring really gets no respect whatsoever. That's too bad though because while pretty much dull as dishwater, the four-seat convertible remains a cheap way to go topless. Yesterday's odd bodkin of a Sebring - mounted on a Chevy Blazer frame - proved not to be cheap enough, falling in a 55% Crack Pipe loss. That new top will just have to wait, I guess.

You know, we're all about mix and match car parts. There's just something awesome about building on strengths in the creation of something that never existed before. Of course sometimes one creator's vision doesn't jive with that of the rest of us - like in the case of yesterday's jacked up Sebring - but sometimes the fusion proves less folly and more fabulous.

To that end, I present this 1970 Checker Marathon wagon featuring a Mercedes Benz OM617 and working taxi meter. In fact, this fully restored and reimagined wagon is set up for taxi service, although according to the ad, it's been pressed into family vacation duty for the past decade.


Over that time, the seller says that the car has been completely gone through, and every major system has either been rebuilt or replaced with a gee-whiz better version. That includes the brakes, suspension, rust-free body and entire electrical system. It's that engine and its 4-speed MB transmission that are perhaps the biggest game changers though.

Over the course of its 21-year life span, Checker's ubiquitous Marathon featured engines from - at times - Continental, Oldsmobile, and most commonly, Chevrolet. In the wagons, horsepower ranged from 122 for the earliest Connie six to a factory spec'd 300 from the late sixties edition of the Chevy 350.


The naturally aspirated 3,005-cc 5-cylinder diesel from Mercedes puts out 88-bhp. One would imagine that in a two-ton car that would result in performance bordering on the somnambulant, and further would require that on steep hills that one get out and push. On the plus side, the Mercedes diesel 5 is generally regarded as perhaps the world's most durable of motors.

Combine that with the stout body on frame Checker and you have a wagon that's likely to carry you, your children, and your grandchildren, to their eventual graves. Considering the space afforded in the Marathon, it would probably be a comfortable - albeit slow - trip too.


As noted, the Mercedes oil burner is backed up by an equally Swabian 4-speed automatic, and the seller goes to lengths touting the age and hence inherent simplicity of this tranny. He also notes a posi rearend, possibly the most under-used application of that accessory ever conceived.

The list of updates and improvements just keeps growing, including rebuilt seats, a new electrical system, cleaned up and repainted (in maxi-taxi) bodywork, and the seller's own admission of their OCD in noting that the tranny fluid is renewed at every engine oil change- at 2,500 miles!


Overall he says he's put just under 20K on the car since most of the work had been done, and owing to its 50-gallon fuel tank and 1,000 mile range, that's less than 20 trips to the station over 3 or 4 years. Of course, those fill ups likely cost a pair of Benjamins each.

Filling it up yourself will set you back just as much, as well as the $9,800 that the seller is asking to take ownership of this unique beast. What do you think about that price for this be-dieseled Marathon? Does that have you burning the midnight oil? Or, does that price mean this taxi is out of service?

You decide!


Seattle Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to RevMrBlack for the hookup!

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