"There's a whole resurgence of folk who have taken it (citizens band communications) away from the truckers and their nomenclature," Kraines said. "They are younger consumers between the ages of 16 and 29 who want to dial a channel and talk to their friends all the way to the beach or desert."
Compared with a cellular phone, the savings, good buddy, are enormous.
"A plug-in CB retails for $49.95," Kraines said. "A car telephone is at least $800 plus the monthly bills."
Advice for Overachievers
He added that, with a piddling input of 12 volts, the risk of shorting or equipment fire from cigarette lighter appliances "is of absolutely no concern."
It would appear that anything driven electrically can be driven by a cigarette lighter. From chain saws to videocassette players. From a bug zapper to a frying pan. Of course there are some X-rated items. There's even a solar-powered charger to restore car batteries drained by all of the above.
"One man did call us and asked for something we weren't able to deliver," Blackway recalled. "Nobody makes a 12-volt cleaner for boiling contact lenses.
"We also couldn't do anything for people asking for 12-volt telephone answering machines. But now Panasonic makes one."
And for Armando Espinoza, the automotive and tobacco-electrical arts have combined to form a perfect cycle.
Espinoza, 21, of North Hollywood, is into radio-controlled devices. He has a $226 scale model truck called Midnight Pumpkin. After some heavy back yard and parking lot running, the little battery-powered vehicle has been known to run out of juice.
That's when Espinoza simply plugs his truck into the cigarette lighter of his full-size Datsun.