HEY BUDDY, I FOUND YOUR LIGHTER

A WALK IN THE WOODS TURNED UP AN INTERESTING FIND...which lead me to an interesting car story. 
Source - Google Maps

About a month ago I was walking our dogs on an old forgotten road, now part of a park property. It's called Old Bullpen Road. I'm still not sure why, but my eyes were drawn downwards towards an object reflecting sunlight. As I leaned over to get a better look, it turned out to be an old Zippo lighter. I thought it was interesting, so I brushed off the dirt and stuck it in my pocket.

When I got back home, I cleaned it up a bit and saw it was in pretty bad shape, but I decided to de-rust it using Coca-Cola®*. "Nothing of value here," I thought. I let it dry, then stuck it in the "whatnot drawer". I saw the lighter again this morning, then thought about their guarantee, "It works or we fix it free™". I decided it was worth a few minutes of time to visit the Zippo website. I didn't really know what would turn up, but the date code page is what aroused my interest. 

Courtesy of Zippo®
It took a while to determine what I was looking for and looking at, but I was eventually able to determine there were three dots before and after the logo, which if correct, would mean it was produced in 1960, 53 years ago. Regardless of it's condition, it suddenly became more intriguing. I tried to imagine how it wound up on the side of an unpaved road; flat tire? carelessness? stopped working? Of course I'll never know, yet still interesting.

Zippo Cars


My second find of the day was the link for Zippo® cars. I knew they had a new Jeep done up recently, but I never knew the Jeep had two predecessors. Both were based on 1947 Chrysler Saratoga's and they both had an interesting story.

From the Zippo® website:

Courtesy Zippo®
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.



Courtesy Zippo®
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. 


Courtesy Zippo®
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. 

Courtesy Zippo®
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. 


The Future of the Zippo

I've decided to send the lighter back to the factory with a copy of this story. I don't really expect them to "fix it free", but I'd like to tell them my story and learn if it can be fixed. I'll let you know what happens.

*Why Coca Cola? I had recently seen a video of  Coca-Cola being used to remove rust, so I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained. It actually did a pretty amazing job. Maybe any carbonated soda would work and for the same reason Mentos do. It all has to do with the total surface area exposed to the carbonated liquid. The greater the area, the greater the release of gas. My theory - Rust is very porous. Each little crack, crevice, or pocket of rust increases the surface area that comes in contact with the soda, releasing the carbonation. So like dropping Mentos into soda, the level of released gas is considerable. As the "fizz" is released, it literally "blows up" the porous rust.

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