Since the first day a Muffler Man was made back around 1961, they have been popular. Bob Prewitt made the first one that stands today in Flagstaff AZ, and shortly after ,sold the mold to International Fiberglass. They started selling the giants around 1962, and boy did they sell! So much so that in just 10 short years, we guess a few hundred, of just the Bunyan version alone, stood at various businesses across the country. International Fiberglass went on to make other versions and broaden their market, so today, you can still visit, bunyans, cowboys, snerds (half wits), golfers, pirates and Indians after more than 50 years on the roadside.
Interestingly the most visited page of this website is the “for sale” page, and the question I am asked the most is, “how much is a Muffler Man worth?” This is a loaded question and to answer it properly, we should look at a little bit of history. In 1969 a standard 20ft Bunyan would have cost you $2,830 doll hairs, and additions would go up from there. The larger giants and Indian versions would run you a bit more. Great price right!? To put that into perspective, thats about $18,818 in todays money.
In 1972 IF stopped making Muffler Men, because the demand had dropped and shipping costs had sky rocketed. They continued to use outside contractors to fill orders for the giants, until the last two Muffler Men were made in 1974. That was the end of new Muffler Men, and the molds were destroyed. By the late 70s and early 80s the giants left standing across America were starting to look a bit haggard, and they were considered eye sores, and you could hardly give them away. I have heard of many being thrown out, buried, given away or sold for $30 or $40 bucks. That sentiment started to change in the early 90s, when they were becoming vintage and in the mid to late 90s the guys at Roadside America, started noticing them and brought attention to them after discovering their origins. People started writing in tips about current locations and they started to develop a following that is still growing today.
Smithsonian did an article about the long lost giants in 2000, and this raised interest and popularity even more. Over the next 10 years, more and more travelers would go out of their way to see a Muffler Man, and this was noticed by business owners. Because they had not been made in over 20 years, would be buyers, found them hard to obtain. Many owners were reluctant to part with the giants, because they were often passed down from an uncle or father, and had sentimental value. Also, the communities in small cities and towns were often (and still are) up in arms when learning, that the long time local landmark might be leaving. So the challenge of obtaining an original Muffler Man was born and the value of these aging giants was no longer $40.
By the time I came on the scene, and started researching these gentle giants in 2011, the going rate was around $5,000 and we would gawk, when we heard of one selling for more. Those who had purchased a giant in the 80s or 90s for a few bucks, were feeling pretty good about their purchase, and those who had done the selling were in shock. Muffler Men continued to remain hard to find, and it seems that to this day, only a handful will come up for sale each year, if any at all. It was kind of like winning the lottery, and if you happened to find one before all the other collectors had noticed you might get a good deal!
I sometimes wonder if my videos and research on these giants has contributed to the increased interest and value. As more people become aware of these unique giants from the 60’s, they continue to attract more visitors each year, which in turn makes them more desirable by business owners and collectors. Condition has always been a factor in value, and now that many of these giants have turned 50, it seems harder and harder to find ones in good condition. And lets not forget the mysterious pull these giant’s have, they are old, unique to the 60s and remind of us a different time and seem to bring adventure and joy to all who seek them out.
In the last few years we have seen Muffler Men in good condition, once again reach the same value they had when sold new back in the 60s. There is no set value on a Muffler Men but some of the most recently sold Muffler Men have fetched higher numbers, which are very close to the $18,818 they sold for in the 60’s, if you adjust for inflation. Now that doesn’t always mean that grandpas Muffler Man, you’ve still got laying out in the back 40 rotting away is going to get you 20K! Remember that condition plays a big part of the sale price, because once a buyer purchases your giant, he has to restore it, and he doesn’t want to end up with more into the giant then he could possibly get back out. I’d say most original Muffler Men today, are valued around 3-11K, but one in decent condition could fetch much more. Also another factor is how rare they are, if you have an original 14 ft version, Uniroyal Gal or one of 5 existing Texaco Big Friends, the value goes way up regardless of condition. Bottom line, Muffler Men are worth what the collector is willing to give, and sometimes that figure may surprise you and other times disappoint.
For current Muffler Men for sale keep a regular eye on our “For Sale” page. Currently there is an original 14 ft version for sale in AZ as well as a standard Bunyan head, you can check them out by clicking here