Roadside oddities have always been some of my favorites. They are throwbacks to the days when traveling wasn’t just about the destination, but enjoying the journey was also part of the fun.
One of these roadside giants that has risen in popularity in recent years and has piqued the curiosity of many is known as the “Muffler Men.”
Fiberglass first came to prominence in the 1950s and by the 1960s these Muffler Men began popping up. They were actually nicknamed Muffler Men by the folks at Roadside America, since many of these figures were found outside auto body shops.
The standard model was a version of Paul Bunyan and featured a square jaw, short sleeves, and a hint of a smile. The purchaser of these giants had the option of mixing and matching arms, legs, and heads, but you will most commonly find the standard hands with the right palm facing up and the left down. This was originally because Paul Bunyan held an ax and many of the men were destined to hold mufflers.
Each of the Muffler Men cost between $1,000 and $2,800 although the stock was limited since the company that made these men closed in 1974 due to the gas crisis.
Since the Men have been out of production for so long, many have been remodeled to fit the owners’ needs — such as our very own Muffler Man right here in Greensburg.
Originally a Paul Bunyan, the Greensburg Muffler Man came to Greensburg in the 1960s from a store in Pittsburgh and placed at an auto body shop on 119 North in Greensburg. Here is a photo a reader shared of the statue in 1969 when it was still painted as Paul Bunyan.
When the Steelers started winning games in the 1970s the statue was eventually painted as a Pittsburgh Steeler. Originally it was Jack Lambert.
One of my readers shared with me an old picture from when the statue still had the head. As you can clearly see, it once had a beard but it was painted over.
It has the standard hands (right palm up, left down) and a football helmet was added.
I’m not going to lie, but I love trying to unravel the past history of things, and this statue was no different. If you look closely you can tell that this statue was originally a Paul Bunyan.
The lace up boots are indicators of the original work boots.
Also there are some buttons right where the yellow pants meet the black shirt which imply there were suspenders originally painted on.
Also, the “jersey” has buttons up the front such as you would find on a button-up flannel shirt. It also has the collar of a flannel shirt.
The paint on the statue is chipping and you can tell the statue originally had brown work boots and a red shirt as well.
The statue hasn’t been repainted in a while so it still wears #8 Tommy Maddox, but if you look closely you can also see that it was once #87. In past years, the jersey of the Steeler-themed Muffler Man was changed to reflect a popular Steeler player.
Approximately 9 years ago the head was removed (or fell off?) and was to be refurbished, but the auto shop has since closed and the Muffler Man remains headless. Hopefully, one day we will see it back, but it is still worth a look in the meantime.
In the meantime, you can check out some of our Muffler Men neighbors in Kittanning and Uniontown.
For more information about Greensburg’s Muffler Man, check out this Tribune Review article from 2012.
P.S. If you happen to have any pictures of the Greensburg Muffler Man when he still had his head, I would love to see them!