Roadside America - Saving "The Giants"


Now Known As The "Muffler Men"


During the nineteen sixties, America's landscape was dotted with hundreds of these larger than life "Giants" meant to draw you into a variety of businesses. They were the brain child of International Fiberglass, who was seeking new opportunities outside of their longstanding fiberglass boat building. The firm began making giant human figures in 1964 after a restaurant in Arizona ordered a model of Paul Bunyan, a giant lumberjack in American folklore. 

According to Joel Baker,a person who has started a business to locate, document and restore as many as possible,somewhere between 180 and 200 still exist today.

International Fiberglass began by producing one Paul Bunyon statue, but the buyer defaulted before taking delivery. 

In an effort to salvage as much of the investment as possible, the company loaded it onto a trailer and began driving it around the area in hope of finding a buyer. They did and soon afterwards were swamped with inquiries from other companies who wanted one of their own.

After Paul Bunyan came cowboys, golfers, pirates and goofy-looking country bumpkins, advertising everything from tires to golf courses. The first American Indians were purchased by Pontiac dealerships, while the cowboys were made for Phillips 66 petrol stations. 

The figures were also a common sight outside car repair workshops often carrying an exhaust pipe - a muffler in American English - and have become known as Muffler Men.


There were also about 20 female models - so-called Uniroyal Gals, made for the Uniroyal tire company in 1966, some clad in a bikini, others in a skirt, T-shirt and heels. In 1970, you could purchase one of these statues for $3,150. She came wearing a bikini but you could pay extra for the add-on skirt and blouse. This was unknown to Baker until he began researching the Uniroyal Gal statues and speaking with their owners.
 
How It All Started
Joel Baker started his efforts to find, document and restore "Muffler Men" with a Kickstarter project. The business bloomed to include a series of documentaries, a YouTube channel and a highly detailed website. We highly recommend visiting "American Giants". The amount of information, photos and videos are extensive. Here is an overview of Baker's quest to save them all.


Roadside America
Our previous post covering this website also happened to be our 1,000th article. As noted in the videos, the site has an entire section devoted to the "Muffler Men" including and interactive map of their locations. They include individual links to each statue, each detailing the story behind every one of them.
There are two "Muffler Men" near our Atlanta office and another near our Tucson-based office, including one of the Native American giants. It is located in GA in the town of Powder Springs.
All Photos - Source - American Giants www.USAGiants.com

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