From Zippo Cars to the Peepmobile: 7 Bizarre Marketing Vehicles


If your college was anything like mine, a day didn't go by without some company giving out free samples in wacky cars. The Red Bull car even had its own parking space down the street from the dorms. (Trying to resist the temptation when walking past a giant can of Red Bull before an early class is absolute torture.) Here are seven examples of even weirder promotional vehicles.

1. The Zippo Car

Built in 1947 for $25,000, the Zippo Car was a Chrysler Saratoga with two gigantic lighters sporting neon flames. The Zippo Car was used for fairs, expos and parades between 1948 and 1949, but mysteriously disappeared sometime in the 1950's when it was left at a Pittsburgh dealership for reconstruction and never returned. In 1996, Zippo commissioned a replica of the original Zippo car, and in 1998 the second Chrysler Saratoga—New Yorker was unveiled at the Zippo/Case Visitors Center.

2. Chock Full o' Nuts Truck

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The Chock Full o' Nuts novelty truck first appeared publicly in the late 1930s shortly after the coffee company originated in New York City. The vehicle was designed to resemble a comfortable cabin with a screened in porch—just the kind of place where you'd want to enjoy your morning java. The Chock Full o' Nuts brand has been owned by dessert queen Sara Lee since the year 2000. Image via JAMD.

3. The Children's Shoemaker Car

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This shoe may look a little like something out of a nursery rhyme, but it is actually a promotional vehicle created for Daniel Neal, The Children's Shoemaker, a business that originated in 1837 in London. The shoe was built on a 1921 Ford Model T with coachwork done by Riverside Motor Works. Presumably the message on the wheels is a brand of shoes.

4. Oscar Mayer Weinermobile

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Invented in 1936 by Carl G. Mayer (nephew of namesake Oscar), the Weinermobile has evolved over the years and the massive hot dog can currently be seen atop many different vehicles. Gas rationing kept the promotional car off the road during World War II, but in the 1950s, Oscar Mayer and the Gerstenslager Company created several new vehicles using Dodge and Jeep chassis. These vehicle were driven by "Little Oscar" who would frequent festivals and parades as well as visiting schools and children's hospitals. In 1988, Oscar Mayer launched its Hotdogger program, where recent college graduates were hired to drive the Wienermobile through various parts of the nation and abroad. There are currently six Wienermobiles in existence.

5. The Voxmobile

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In 1967, Warren Hampton of the musical equipment manufacturer Vox approached famous car customizer George Barris to build a Voxmobile guitar auto. His idea was to fabricate a custom roadster that would function both as a car and as a mobile amplifier, designed to be used for promotional purposes. The Voxmobile, released in 1968, features a Vox guitar silhouette that serves as a functioning amp capable of supporting up to 32 guitars as well as featuring a working Vox organ in the rear deck. In all, there are two main drive speakers mounted atop the intake manifold, five 12-inch speakers, one 18-inch bass speaker and four tweeters. The entire vehicle is worth $30,000 and is drivable.

6. The Spammobile

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This giant blue trolley drives all over the country giving out free samples of delicious Spam products. Inside, the vehicle only seats two passengers to accommodate mass quantities of canned ham and the electric griddle necessary for cooking Spamburgers. The license plate of the Spammobile reads "Spam37," the number 37 being a reference to 1937, the year Spam was invented.

7. The Peepster

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Much like the Spammobile, Just Born, the company responsible for marshmallow Peeps as well as Mike and Ikes and Peanut Chews, has a large bus that tours the nation. However, the Bethlehem, Pa-based candy company also has a smaller promotional vehicle—the Peepster. A bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle with a five-foot tall yellow marshmallow chick on top, the car can often be seen cruising around the tri-state area.