The History of the iconic Esso Tiger
“Put A Tiger In Your Tank!” Pictured is an Original Esso Tiger Globe Head made from plastic, which would originally have a metal base that would fix to the top of a gas pump, mostly seen in the 1960’s  in the UK.
Pictured is a marketing ad for Esso Extra
Put A Tiger In Your Tank
Do you remember or still have one of those fake tiger tails from the early 60’s?  Motorists all over the world were tying them to the caps of their gas tanks and sporting bumper stickers that declared: “I’ve got a tiger in my tank.”Some 2.5 million tails were sold in the US alone – and that they’re still in demand – is testimony to the durability of the campaign that convinced drivers that Esso fuel was so powerful that it was the equivalent of having a huge beast in their gas tanks.
“Put a tiger in your tank” was a slogan created in 1959 by Emery Smith, a young Chicago copywriter who had been given the task to produce a newspaper ad to boost sales of Esso Extra.The tiger wasn’t Smith’s invention. He’d first appeared as a mascot for Esso in Norway around the turn of the 20th century. But it wasn’t until the end of the Second World War – and the resumption of petrol advertising – that the tiger made his US debut.”He was a very different character back then. Cute, amiable and in cartoon form, he closely resembled Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh and was intended to represent a new post-war optimism after years of shortages. He also gave an identifiable face to Esso in a market where brand differentiation has never been easy”It was in 1964 that the character really hit his stride with a campaign developed by McCann Erickson. As Esso sales soared and the advertising became the talk of gasoline advertising, Time magazine declared 1964 to be “The Year of the Tiger along Madison Avenue”The oil crisis of the early 1970’s put a stop to any conspicuous petrol consumption and, with little advertising activity taking place, Esso switched its efforts to promoting its pioneering role in North Sea oil exploration.The task of reflecting this change of emphasis in advertising terms fell to the long-serving McCann senior creative Chester Posey. He chose to represent the new global reality for the newly named Exxon Mobil by swapping the cartoon tiger for a real one and the line: “We’re changing our name, but not our stripes.”                                               Interesting Facts– In 1996, Kellogg took legal action against Exxon Mobil, claiming its use of the Exxon tiger to sell food at TigerMart convenience stores infringed its Tony the Tiger trademark created by Leo Burnett. The case went to the US Supreme Court before an undisclosed settlement was reached.- I’ve Got A Tiger By The Tail, the 1964 hit by the US country music band Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, was inspired when Owens saw the “Put a tiger in your tank” slogan at a petrol station.

– In the 1980s, a live-action tiger was used, filmed by expert cameramen.  Ever since, the Exxon Tiger has remained the same, racing up mountains and along beaches, portraying the energy and power of Exxon (now ExxonMobil) products.

– Exxon Mobil contributes $1 million a year to support the Save the Tiger Fund, which helps conserve Asia’s remaining wild tigers.

                                               Original Memorabilia
Original Esso Tiger Automobilia is hard to find. A good percentage is found in the UK. Prices range from $700 for an original 12″ pump plate sign to $7,000 + for an original Esso Tiger Mascot mold/statue that went on the roofs of Esso stations. 

Garage Art has several different reproduction Esso Tiger Signs to choose from; big and small. A great way to bring back the memories and as some fun to your garage! 

Batteries signs do not carry as much history as some of the old gas signs however the Delco Batteries might be an exception.   The history of Delco Batteries started with “The Remy Brothers” of The Remy Electric Company in 1896. They were one of the very early American companies producing magnetos for the auto manufacturers and the created the 1st automotive started in 1913.

 In 1916 The Remy Electric company was purchased by United Motors who was a holding company.  In 1918 United Motors was then purchased by General Motors and Delco Remy Corporation was established in 1926 as a division of General Motors.  In 1928 the current suppliers of batteries were Willard, Exide, USL And Preto-Lite. The batteries were sold to the car manufacturers as a loss leader in order to establish market share at the retail level. Delco Remy was able to establish a n production process that met the current OEM prices and still make a profit.  Delco batteries was introduced in 1945 and really hit stride in 1966 with the introduction of the Delco Energizer Battery. This design with a  1-piece plastic top and the Delco eye for checking the charge was a hit.  Delco Batteries signs are circa 1939 and hold a collector value due to their size (70” x 18” ) and color. We believe that these carry an incredible collector value due to current selling prices. At the 2020 Mecum Kissimmee auction  one was sold for $900.00 with an estimate of $2000.00.  Reproduction signs are available here at Garage Art!

Pictured is an original porcelain Signal Gas 72″ sign 
The Signal Gasoline Company began in 1922 when farmer Samuel B. Mosher started his first filling station. Mosher became quite a businessman with strong entrepreneurial skills as the operation quickly grew during the 20’s and in 1928 was renamed Signal Gas and Oil. In 1931, Signal partnered with the gasoline and oil giant, the Standard Oil Company.
Signal eventually grew to be the largest independent oil company on the West Coast. Signal Gasoline was known for its premium quality. 

Garage Art Family History with Signal Gasoline:
In 1956 my grandfather bought a Signal Gas station and ran it in Seattle Washington, West Seattle off California Ave for several years. Since then, our family has collected several Signal signs including the one pictured above. This picture below was not his station, but comparable to what a Signal Station on the West coast looked like and how it was set-up. 

The Washington Chief Gasoline brand was created by the Inland Refinery in Spokane, Washington, which operated between 1939 and 1957. Inland had plans to open stations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The porcelain signs were produced and ready to mount as their new stations opened. Inland opened the 1st station in Spokane followed by Aberdeen, shortly thereafter they were bought out by Wasatch Oil.

The original signs went into storage with little to no value, only to start surfacing in the 1990s when a few of these signs in NOS condition turned up in an antique store in Seattle. 

Garage Art Family History with Washington Chief Signs:
We bought two, kept one, and sold the other years ago! The original 6-foot signs have vibrant colors and have become very collectible and valuable. Prices for originals sold between $20,000 – $75,000 + with larger auction companies such as Barrett Jackson over the years. A very sought after original sign for a collector.

Garage Art offers several different Made in the USA reproduction Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana Chief Signs ranging from $19 to $299 for larger versions

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