Nearly Every Piece of Mail in America Was Once Delivered by Vans Built in South Bend, Indiana
Close your eyes, and you can probably see the ubiquitous United States Postal Service Van. They look like nothing else on the road as they make their daily visits to every address in the country. Those vehicles are known as LLVs or Long-Life Vehicles.
Before the LLVs there was the Zip Van. Introduce in the early 1960s and named in honor of the also-recently-introduced Zip Code, the Zip Van was a product of Studebaker in South Bend, Indiana, just a stone's throw from the Michigan state line.
A little history of the vehicle was shared on a regional Michiana (get it, Michigan/Indiana) Facebook group:
Studebaker made 4,238 Zip Vans for the US Postal Service in 1963. They were named after the new Zone Improvement Plan (Zip Code). The Zip Van would be the last new vehicle made by Studebaker in South Bend.
That last fact is fascinating. The last vehicle of any time to roll off a Studebaker assembly line was this van for the USPS.
See a Postal Service Zip Van in Action
These videos give you a walkaround and driving view of the Zip van.
This video really gives you a feel for how the Zip Van would have looked making deliveries - complete with a very theme-appropriate soundtrack.
Can you Still Own a USPS Zip Van?
Considering that less than 5,000 Zip Vans were ever made, they are rare and not common on the resale market. A nearly unrecognizable one is currently up for sale on eBay listed at $6,500.
Though long removed from the days of an active assembly line, Studebaker has left an indelible mark on the South Bend community, including this well-known park where the company's name is spelled out in trees that can be seen from flying overhead.
As for our postal service vechiles, the fleet racks up millions of miles every year on the roadways of America. But only the luckiest of delivery drivers get to cruise these scenic roads: