Route 66 - Muffler Men

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Martin Hash
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Route 66 - Muffler Men

Post by Martin Hash » Sun Oct 27, 2019 12:14 pm

Muffler Men are giant 18 to 25 foot fiberglass manikins from the 50s & 60s, of men and sometimes women, with their arms out to hold something as an advertisement. They often held mufflers to indicate an auto repair shop, hence the name, but they could embrace anything, like missiles, axes & hotdogs. There were hundreds of Muffler Men, but over the decades they deteriorated and now they’re a rarity. Route 66 is a vein of gold of some of the most famous remaining Muffler Men.

Gemini Man (Wilmington, IL).JPG

I’d never heard of Muffler Men before starting our trip on Route 66, but they fit my preconceptions of what we were going to see, and they were the epitomized my expectations, a combination of nostalgia, giant things & kitsch. My first was Gemini Man. After standing in front of him in awe, I told my wife, Gwynne, “That was even better than I thought it would be.” I texted a picture of Gemini Man to my friend, Curt, because he & I like the same stuff, and he was really impressed. Later I texted Curt a picture of the first-ever Muffler Man, Bunyan's Statue, to make him even more jealous; it did.

Bunyan's Statue (Atlanta, IL).JPG

There were 7 Muffler Men listed on Route 66, and we had seen 5 with supposedly only one more somewhere in California, but while we were in Arizona I Googled “Muffler Men” to make sure, and a there's a map of all the remaining Muffler Men in the U.S., identified by a pin. One pin was right on our location! I kept increasing the zoom to see where, and couldn't believe that an unlisted Route 66 Muffler Man was less than a mile away from us at North Arizona University as their school mascot, the Lumberjacks. It was late, and dark, and we were dead tired from touring all day but there was no way we were going to miss this coincidence, so we found our way to the campus to see if it was real or a red herring. We went into the stadium through a door held open by a rock, and it’s a good thing because Gwynne was there to let the cheerleaders in for practice, and magic of magics, we also found a hidden gem of Muffler Men, Lumberjack.

Lumberjack (Flagstaff, AZ).JPG

The last Muffler Man was Chicken Boy in Los Angeles. Driving to the barrio to see that one was an adventure in its own right but if nothing else, Gwynne & I are tough to scare off. There was a couple taking pictures of Chicken Boy. They said they were from around there and mentioned another Muffler Man in Los Angeles; his name was Tony. My eyes lit up, I Googled Tony at a transmission shop only 10 minutes away.
“Let’s go!” I excitedly told Gwynne.
Of course, this was LA; it was a lot of changing freeways, and turning this way and that. “5 minutes...,” I kept Gwynne informed. “4 minutes... 2 minutes... Almost there; we should see the Muffler Man.”
Expectantly, I was leaning forward but I saw nothing. We parked the car, made sure it was the right place. That’s when we noticed the construction: Tony’s Transmissions had become 101 Car Wash and the Muffler Man was gone. That’s when we learned you got to be quick to catch Muffler Men.

Chicken Boy (Los Angeles, CA).JPG
Lauterbach Man (Springfield, IL).jpg
Buck Atom (Tulsa, OK).jpg
2nd Amendment Cowboy (Amarillo, TX).jpg
Harley Davidson Man (Livingston, IL).jpg
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Martin Hash
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Re: Route 66 - Muffler Men

Post by Martin Hash » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:00 pm

Even remote Peru has Muffler Men:

Chacarero, Pucallpa, Peru.jpg
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Dr.Jack
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Re: Route 66 - Muffler Men

Post by Dr.Jack » Tue Nov 05, 2019 4:48 pm

Hi Martin, enjoyed seeing the Muffler Men survivors along Route 66. Here are a couple more in Oregon:
https://www.roadsideamerica.com/search/ ... &sort=date
ORGRAmuffler_ted.jpg
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Martin Hash
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Re: Route 66 - Muffler Men

Post by Martin Hash » Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:26 pm

Next time through, I’m snapping the one in Grants Pass.