Dear Griffin:

I was so excited when I saw your product at the local shop! I’ve been looking for a way to charge my iPad in my old Chevy and I was amazed when I saw my car on the package! A 1934 Chevy was right there on the box! Sweetness!

Immediately I picked it up the PowerJolt
and excitedly unpacked it. I tried it out in my daily driver, a Chevy Volt, and it worked great. Later that day I drove down to the local car show. I figured that my gear needed a bit of a boost and I wanted to try it out in my show car. I was dismayed when I discovered that I had no socket to plug it in on my dash. I don’t smoke so I never really looked closely. I looked all over and did not find anything to plug it into. Booo…

At the show I met up with my good buddy Dave who has a 1940 Chevy. I wanted to know if it would work there. Sure enough he had a cigarette lighter sitting there. I plugged it in but it didn’t really fit. It was kinda rattle-y in there. We used the aluminum foil from the hot dog I just ate and wedged it in so it would get some juice. With that I connected up my iPad since by this point it was drained. And… nothing. It just sat there. Booo again.

We were both stumped. I pulled out the PowerJolt and tried the actual lighter to make sure it was working. No problem. A few moments after pushing it in it popped out glowing a cherry red. It obviously had power.

1934 Chevrolet Master Series DA 4-Door Sedan - Photo by Lars-Göran Lindgren - Used with permission

Just then our friend Joe walked over and reminded us that up until the ’50s these cars had six-volt power systems. He offered up his ’72 Camaro’s outlet and finally my iPad had some juice. At last the mystery was solved.

I figured you’d want to know that your box somewhat misstates what the contents are really compatible with.


– = –

Ok, I wish I had a ’34 Chevy. But it is an interesting rabbit-hole I went down when I started to explore the picture on the box. It looked like a car from the 30’s, but I’m not a car geek enough to know. I narrowed it down to either a 1933 or ’34 Chevy.

I wanted to know if cars back then even had cigarette lighters? The answer: maybe. The modern socket came about in 1925. I hunted around to look at some schematics of the old Chevy cars. The 1934 didn’t have one listed. I didn’t know if it was just left out or what. As I went forward eventually I found the 1940 model marked the first appearance of a cigarette lighter. I’m deducing that the 1934 didn’t have one since they would have marked it.

The 6V sockets were a bit bigger than the 12V sockets. Presumably this was a safety to ensure that you couldn’t plug a 6V lighter into a 12V socket. The 6V would have lower resistance to get more (though lower voltage) current to flow to get the same heating. Plugging it in to a 12V system would cause it to draw too much current which would be dangerous. (Precisely it would draw four time the current that the socket would be likely have been designed for)

(As an aside it’s cool to see how little it takes to make a car work. Now cars have miles of wires, then, not so much. Even my bike has a small booklet as a schematic — and it’s tiny print!)

The other fun fact is that up until the 50’s most cars had a 6V power system instead of the 12V that modern cars have. The Chevy in this case was no exception. We did get lucky on at least one thing: the Chevy had a negative ground system. Some cars of the era had a positive ground system. Why? To keep the points in the ignition system a bit cleaner.

In any case, this was an interesting little jaunt down history!

I hope Griffin doesn’t hold a grudge for poking some fun at their expense. :-D

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