I present to you the Muffler Man, a classic of giant roadside Americana!
I finally got one! I have been writing about roadside America for over five years but until today I hadn’t written about the Muffler Man! Back in the 1960s, hundreds—if not thousands—of these gigantic 20-foot statues could be found advertising restaurants and gas stations right across the country.
While almost all have gone today, a few remain in the wild. I was excited recently when a friend messaged me a photo of a Muffler Man she’d found at a gas station in Elmsford, New York. Naturally, I had to go see it.
There were several designs of Muffler Man, this one is one of the original bearded “Paul Bunyan” type. It, sadly, no longer has any arms: one looks to have broken off, the other sawn off so he can stand up close to the gas station’s sign.
The original Paul Bunyan statue was designed in 1962 for a restaurant in Arizona and in its arms it held an axe. When International Fiberglass later sold casts of the statue to different companies to advertise their wares, you might find it holding any number of things, from a hammer to a rocket. Most commonly, the statue was used in auto shops and would hold a car muffler. Hence the name Muffler Man.
These days, surviving Muffler Men have been repurposed for all sorts of different roles, from school mascots to garden ornaments! As I travel around the country, I hope to bring you more of these epitomes of roadside America!
Address: BP Gas Station, 135 N Central Ave, Elmsford, NY
Check out this interview with Steve Dashew, former president of International Fiberglass. He goes into depth about the history of the Muffler Man and related statues.