Saturday, September 03, 2011

Zip Vans and the Mailster

Greg Zyla with GateHouse News Service prints some responses from readers about a column of his on the history of postal vans which included "Zip Vans" and "Mailsters."

Frank Murtinger of Minneapolis writes that the 1963-1964 Studebaker Zip Van (shown here) was surprisingly similar to the currently in use LLV in design.

"I had a chance to drive a restored one of these and they seemed well built and performed well. These Studebakers were actually the last trucks to be produced by the brand, and Studebaker built these especially for the U.S. Postal Service," Murtinger says.

James Olmo, Charlotte, N.C. pens, "...another vehicle used in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s [was ]the Mailster. They were made for the USPS by Cushman, who also made motor scooters and three wheel carts during this same time period.

According to the article, "Its compact size and maneuverability were ideal for getting around recently developed suburban areas. By the end of the 1950s, one-third of the USPS fleet was comprised of this vehicle. While higher-ups in the postal service were more than enthusiastic about the Mailster's potential, the people actually driving the Mailster hated it, according to Nancy Pope of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum."

It goes on to say, "Complaints from letter carriers assigned to Mailsters ranged from the front wheel getting stuck in trolley tracks to constant breakdowns, Pope says, and even one report of a massive dog toppling the vehicle. After many complaints and malfunctions, the postal service opted for the more reliable and sturdy Jeep to serve as the centerpiece of its fleet."

To read the entire article, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM