Archive for Muffler Men

Roadside Giants: Discovering the Muffler Men

Posted in Americana, Muffler Men, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , on February 7, 2008 by Paxton
Interstate Signs

As many of you know, I was born in Birmingham, AL. I lived there for 31 years until I moved to Jacksonville in 2005. Since I was a kid, I’ve ridden and/or driven interstate 65 North through downtown (then on to 20/59) towards the airport more times than I can remember. After graduating Auburn, when I became a software consultant, that route was passed almost every weekend for years. As a kid, when I would go interstate 65 into downtown, there were two things I always looked forward to seeing from the car window. The first being a tall rectangular building filled with windows called the AmSouth Center (now the Regions Center). Ever since I can remember, during Christmas time, the building will put up colored cells in its windows to create pictures on all four sides. Click here to see the side with the Christmas tree. The other sides include a stocking and a candy cane. The building was always cool and even during the non-holiday season was fun to gaze upon.

Stan the GCR Tire ManThe second thing I fondly remember noticing on my ride downtown was the giant statue of a man on top of a building holding his arms out in front of him as if he was holding something, but he wasn’t (peep the picture to the right). He appeared to be dressed in a mechanic’s coveralls and he stood on the roof of what looked to be an auto repair shop. I just thought he looked cool standing there as it was a very neat looking statue. The guy was obviously very large, and I can’t recall the first time I noticed him, but he’s been there as long as I can remember that drive. I remember thinking “Where did he come from and what’s he supposed to be holding in his empty outstretched hands?” It was all so mysterious. I was fascinated. As I grew older, he was just always there and I really didn’t think anything more about it.

It wasn’t until years later I found out that my auto repair statue/mascot was just one of a large group of statues collectively called, “The Muffler Men”. My particular one was on top of GCR Tire Repair and his name was Stan. I couldn’t believe it, my dude had a name and there were more of these things? When I sat down and thought about it, I do remember seeing statues similar to my auto repair guy in pictures. I remember seeing a lot of differently dressed auto repair guys that looked suspiciously similar. I started researching their history and what I found surprised me. These statues are regarded as vintage Roadside Americana. They have a many varied and interesting history and have been around for many, many years. They sit in auto repair shops, miniature golf courses, carnivals, gas stations, antique stores, etc, etc. Some dressed as mechanics, Indians, lumberjacks or space men. The ones we see now have just been passed down for generations and most likely are not with their original owners. But how did they begin? What was their original purpose? Was it a standard mold made by many different companies or did one company crank these things out? Well, I finally found out the Secret Origin of the Muffler Men, so if you are not already bored to tears by this article then read on for the amazing history of the roadside “Muffler Men”.

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