Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zippomobile...Lost and Rebirth

Are you a believer in the ghosts of space and time? Do you ever hear a sound and it takes you back like a time machine? One of those sounds is the lite metallic sound of a Zippo Lighter as it snaps shut. I can still hear it as I did many years ago fishing with my father on a windy morning next to a stream.

A unique design to ward off the wind introduced to the GIs. Image © Zippo

George 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. I'm sure that's where my father was introduced to the lighter. Zippo inventor Blaisdell was also fond of productmobiles like the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile and Life Savers Pep-O-Mint car. With the Zippo's new found popularity  Blaisdell decided in 1947 to convert a Chrysler Saratoga into the Zippomobile at a cost of $25,000 with two neon lite flames.
Image ©  Zippo
With its introduction in the late 1940s, the Zippomobile went far and wide on a promotional tour and participated in parades visiting every state in the Union. Eventually business at Zippo was so good that the Zippo Car fell out of favor and deamed, not needed, it was abandoned and subsequently lost at a Pittsburgh dealership to be rebuilt in the late 60s-early70s. In 1982 the company launched a search to find the car for the company’s 50th anniversary. But the search was all for naught. No doubt it was crushed or is collecting dust in a garage somewhere. While the original car could not be found and restored, in 1997 Zippo did reproduce the 1947 Zippo Car which can still be found at events today.

Image © Zippo

As the Zippomobile looks today...Rebuilt.
To share a comment, click here.


  1. Hi John,
    I'm really enjoying your blog.
    My dad always used matches but I can still hear the distinctive sound of the Zippo of friends and others in my family lighting up.

  2. John, I've always loved the photos of the you've educated me on it...great post!!