The Zippomobile

As a child, Zippo inventor George G. Blaisdell was fond of productmobiles like the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and Life Savers Pep-O-Mint car. Blaisdell founded the Zippo Manufacturing Company in the town of Bradford, Pennsylvania in 1932, naming the company “Zippo” as a more modern sounding alternative to the word zipper. During WWII the U.S. Government commissioned Zippo’s entire production to be distributed to GIs, which had the benefit of introducing the company and its windproof lighters to hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Americans, thereby making Zippo a household name. It was this new found popularity that propelled Blaisdell in 1947 to convert a Chrysler Saratoga into the Zippomobile.

After its introduction in the late 1940s, the Zippo Car went far and wide on a promotional tour visiting every state in the Union. Eventually business at Zippo was so good — and management so preoccupied — that the Zippo Car fell out of favor, was abandoned and subsequently lost. In 1982 the company launched a search to find the car for the company’s 50th anniversary. Zippo even went so far as running advertisements in Pittsburgh (its last known location) to try to track down the lost Zippomobile. But the search was all for naught. While the original car could not be found and restored, in 1998 Zippo did reproduce the 1947 Zippo Car which can still be found at events today. You can read the full history of the 1947 Zippo Car here.

Comments on “The Zippomobile

    Ramalhonion April 11, 2011 @ 6:44 AM:

    A trully iconic brand… and the car looks amazing… I love this low fi kind of marketing stunts

    andreaon April 11, 2011 @ 8:29 AM:

    I’d never seen this one before! I love it :D

    Matt Rennickon April 11, 2011 @ 8:57 AM:

    I visited the factory and zippo museum a couple of years ago when I randomly ended up in Bradford, PA for a weekend – it was pretty awesome. They still make the Zippos there and according to folks at the factory have never charged to repair a Zippo. I find that a little hard to believe but hey, stranger things have happened…

    Michael Williamson April 11, 2011 @ 9:02 AM:

    All Zippos have a lifetime guarantee, which means you can send it back at any time and Zippo will fix it. Apparently, there has been a big problem with Chinese knockoff Zippos mistakenly being sent back for repair. More here:

    JSQon April 11, 2011 @ 3:25 PM:

    A la EDC, I have never smoked a cigarette but I have often carried a zippo.

    Ray Hullon April 11, 2011 @ 4:49 PM:

    That they were GI (government issue) to GIs is interesting. I spose they went well with those free cartons of Camels that went out to VA hopitals around the world, every week, well into the 1950s. Newsman John Cameron Swayze, on behalf of Camel, used to broadcast weekly carton shipment counts during his TV news program sponsored by Camel.

    CTNon April 11, 2011 @ 9:39 PM:

    My family has a cabin just outside of Bradford and I typically make a stop at the Zippo factory store when I am in town. They have a great museum with some amazing pieces of Americana. Zippo acquired Case knives years back and they also sell the knives at the store. I really enjoyed the post.

    patrickon April 12, 2011 @ 5:59 AM:
    Hunter1on April 20, 2011 @ 8:59 AM:

    love it

Comments are closed.