Table of Contents Show
- What Are Muffler Men?
- Why Are Muffler Men Called Muffler Men?
- Who Created the Muffler Men?
- How Many Muffler Men Are Left?
- Famous Muffler Men
- Muffler Men Are Larger than Life
Some roadside attractions are larger than life. If you enjoy experiencing the many unique spots near highways across the country, there’s a chance you’ve seen a Muffler Man or two during your adventures.
However, while many travelers have seen these unique attractions, many don’t know what Muffler Men are.
Today, we’ll share some basic information about these unique art pieces. We’ll also list some we think you should see if you have the chance. Let’s get started!
What Are Muffler Men?
If you’ve seen a large molded fiberglass sculpture advertising a business or being part of a roadside attraction, it’s likely one of the Muffler Men.
These massive sculptures stand between 18 and 25 feet tall and typically hold an object in their hands that they’re promoting. Many of the originals were holding tires, food, and full-sized mufflers.
Why Are Muffler Men Called Muffler Men?
When these giant statues started to gain popularity, muffler companies commonly used them. The massive figures would hold the mufflers and the businesses hoped the statues would help them sell more. It is unclear whether it improved their sales, but regardless, Americans grew to love these massive statues.
Since they typically held mufflers at muffler shops, they gained their reputation and name as “Muffler Men.” However, other businesses jumped on the trend and used Muffler Men at many establishments and attractions.
Who Created the Muffler Men?
The man behind the Muffler Men was Bob Prewitt. He created the first statue in Lawndale, California, as a project for his company, Prewitt Fiberglass Animals.
In 1962, Prewitt’s company received an order from someone in Sacramento wanting to buy a 20-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan. However, the customer never paid for their order. Prewitt loaded up his massive Bunyan and embarked on an adventure along Route 66 to find a business to buy it. He found a buyer in Flagstaff, Arizona, at Lumberjack Cafe.
What started as a project for Prewitt Fiberglass Animals to make a few extra bucks during the slower months became incredibly popular. International Fiberglass took over production and ramped it up.
They also broadened their offerings to include more than Paul Bunyan. International Fiberglass produced Native American statues, Vikings, cowboys, pirates, and more.
How Many Muffler Men Are Left?
Unfortunately, International Fiberglass closed in 1972, so they no longer produced Muffler Men. However, there were hundreds of these men across the country by that time. At last count, approximately 180 of these statues stand tall across the country.
However, you never know when something could damage a statue or ownership of a business could change hands. Not everyone might want a massive figure on their property, and repairs might be too costly or impossible.
The number of remaining Muffler Men is decreasing slowly, so take the time to snap a picture and enjoy the moment if you glimpse one during your travels.
Famous Muffler Men
Because Prewitt started in California, many of the remaining Muffler Men are in that area. However, Muffler Men have traveled near and far from their original state. Let’s examine some of the most famous Muffler Men you can visit.
Gemini Giant (Wilmington, Illinois)
Gemini Giant is along Route 66 in rural Illinois, not far outside the Windy City of Chicago. The Gemini Giant stands tall, wearing a space helmet and holding a rocket. He pays tribute to the incredible space race in the 1960s. This is easily one of the most photographed Muffler Men.
Keep in Mind: There are some Roadside Attractions You Must See at Least Once in Your Life, and these 15 are a must!
Nitro Girl (Blackwood, New Jersey)
Despite these statues having the name Muffler “Men,” there are also women. Nitro Girl is a 20-foot version they designed to sell tires. There weren’t nearly as many female versions as males, but you can find Nitro Girl selling tires in New Jersey.
This particular statue has been standing in place since 1964. However, owners updated her in 2007 with more modern attire, and the tire shop she currently sits outside once sold bobbleheads in her likeness.
Chicken Boy (Highland Park, California)
An owner of a chicken restaurant in Highland Park, California, used the giant statue to attract customers. The figure is 20 feet tall and has the same lumberjack-looking build as the rest, but it has red, white, and blue pants, a red shirt, and a chicken head. In his hands, he’s holding a bucket of the delicious chicken they served at the original establishment location on Route 66.
If you’re visiting Los Angeles, California, stop and take a selfie with Chicken Boy. However, don’t expect to get any chicken. The boy sits atop Future Studio, a graphic design studio specializing in designing books.
Paul Bunyon (Atlanta, Illinois)
There were many Paul Bunyan Muffler Men, but this one sits in Atlanta, Illinois and has a slightly different spelling style. What makes this Muffler Man special is that he appears to have traded his ax for a hot dog.
The massive statue promoted Bunyon’s Hot Dogs in Cicero, Illinois, a popular eatery with locals and travelers along Route 66. While he’s changed locations, this giant still sits alongside what remains of Route 66.
Pro Tip: Looking for more unique stops on your road trip? Try the Roadside America App!
La Salsa Man (Malibu, California)
Some Muffler Men have unique purposes, like La Salsa Man in Malibu, California.
This statue stood outside a hamburger joint during the 1960s. He had a shirt and customary white hat that most soda jerks wore at the time. However, he seemed out of place when the establishment converted to a Mexican restaurant.
It wasn’t long before the giant outside the former hamburger joint transformed. He received a spray tan and a handlebar mustache. However, La Salsa Man nearly came to life when they put the finishing touches of his sombrero on his head. He holds a tray full of food and is ready to serve guests.
Muffler Men Are Larger than Life
Muffler Men were a symbol for many when life was a little bit slower and possibly more straightforward. However, while not all have withstood the test of time, many still exist.
While traveling Route 66 allows you to see many more, they are now standing throughout the country.
If you spot one of these giants during your adventures, snap a picture and share it with us. We’d love to see them!