By the end of World War II, Zippo had become a national treasure. Seeking to capitalize on the good will Americans felt toward Zippo lighters, founder George G. Blaisdell decided to take to the streets of America selling Zippo lighters. How better to do that than with a product mobile - a vehicle that is immediately recognizable as representing the iconic Zippo lighter.
Blaisdell envisioned a car that looked like a Zippo lighter. He hired Gardner Display of Pittsburgh to design the vehicle, a 1947 Chrysler Saratoga with larger-than-life lighters stretching above the roof line, complete with removable neon flames. The lids of the lighters snapped shut for travel. The word Zippo was painted on the side in 24-karat gold. The Zippo Car was a hit, heading up parades and special events.
In the two years after its creation, the Zippo Car traveled to all 48 continental U.S. states and participated in every major parade in the nation but the remarkable car had some problems. The weight of the giant lighters put enormous pressure on the tires, which blew out easily.The armor-plated fenders made the car impossible to jack up for a tire change.
In the early 1950s, Blaisdell asked that the car be returned to Bradford for an overhaul. Instead, the car was taken to a Pittsburgh Ford dealer for renovation, which would have proved too costly. Enthusiasm waned. Years later, when Zippo looked into the whereabouts of the car, it couldn’t be found.
In 1996, Zippo purchased another 1947 Chrysler New Yorker Saratoga and started over again, making the car lighter and with a sturdier suspension. The new Zippo Car is just as popular as its predecessor, making rounds across America - now in a truck instead of being driven across the nation. When not on the road, the Zippo Car makes its home at the Zippo/Case Museum in Bradford, Pennsylvania.
In 2011, Zippo unveiled a new Zippo Jeep® at the 2011 Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen International. Completely customized, the Zippo Jeep will serve as a promotional vehicle, supporting the company’s popular Outdoor utility products. Unveiled in Victory Lane, the new Zippo Jeep immediately went to work, as it led the Nationwide field in the first warm-up lap of the Zippo 200.
“We could have chosen any number of vehicles for this project, but the Jeep was the most fitting said George Duke, Zippo owner and chairman of the board. “There are many parallels between our brands – American-made, rugged, tough and dependable. In addition, the nature of the Jeep makes it the ideal vehicle to help us promote and share all the great things we’re doing with our Outdoor products.”
The Zippo Jeep® was customized by West Coast Customs ®, the most recognized name in the custom automotive industry. West Coast Customs made significant modifications inside and out to a stock 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and transformed it into the ultimate Zippo vehicle. Stand out features include a full lift kit, supercharger, custom built front bumper and grill, LED lighting around the outside of the vehicle to simulate fire, and a giant Zippo windproof lighter which has replaced the Jeep’s standard spare tire mount. The production of the new Zippo Jeep was the focus of an episode of “Inside West Coast Customs” filmed live on site at the 2011 Zippo 200.