The Uniroyal Gal

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As the Bunyan muffler men began to become popular and more and more businesses across the US started purchasing them International Fiberglass kept on innovating. They first started with the oil giants, Phillips 66, Sinclair and Texaco making versions of muffler men or dinosaurs that could stand that their gas stations and promote their products and business. IMG_9912The idea was a success and the reason there are so many muffler men left today is because most of them were made in mass quantity for oil companies, chiefly Phillips 66. Their cowboys still cover large portions of the US with and without their cowboy hats. The texaco big friend sadly is a different story and Texaco was largely successful in destroying almost all 300 that were purchased except for 4 or 5 of them.   Shortly after Texaco purchased their 300 in 1966 the Uniroyal company also wanted a statue to advertise their tires. So International Fiberglass came up with the idea to do something different and make a female version of the muffler man. She was sculpted by an unknown artist who supposedly had a thing for Jackie Kennedy and IMG_9937sported an orange bikini. I’m not sure how many were made but altogether I have heard of 17 of them so far and 12 of those are still visible today. Needless to say these are one of the less common muffler men and new sightings almost never happen. International Fiberglass also made a skirt and shirt for the giant lady and these could be put on or taken off at the owners will. The Uniroyal girl in Peoria, IL is changed seasonally and during the winter she wears her clothes and during the hot summer she sports a red bikini. In Gainsville Texas owner Glen Goode even made the skirt of his Uniroyal girl longer so she could be “more holy” as he put it and in WV the Farnham’s Uniroyal girl now sports her newly painted bikini while her clothes lay in the grass nearby. The Uniroyal girl IMG_9947was originally made to stand outside gas stations and automotive repair stores that sold Uniroyal products. Like other muffler men owned by large corporations she was used in promotions and was moved from location to location by the sales reps. She stood on the same platform that the rest of the traveling muffler men and big friends did and you can still see one today under the Peoria, IL Uniroyal gal. I have been asked many time what she was originally made to hold in that raised arm. If you look closely at Glen Goode’s girl you can see a bracket inside her hand used to hold a pole or flag. I was told the Uniroyal Girl in Bradenton, FL once held an oil can back in the 70’s and the one in Blackfoot, ID used to hold a plate of food. However “she held tires” is the answer I am most often IMG_3270given and this would make sense since she was made to advertise them. Sometime in the early 70’s the Uniroyal promotion reached it’s end and in most cases the sales reps simply left the giants wherever they happened to be and so they went in most cases to the owners of the gas stations or repair shops. That is exactly how the Uniroyal Girl in Mt Vernon, IL ended up in the area and for her it was the end of the road. In IMG_3803other cases they kept on being sold and moved, interestingly Glen Goode found his in Wichita Falls and the one now in WV once lived in Mississippi at a fireworks stand. There are many interesting stories about these girls, ranging from angry locals upset over her lack of clothing to roomers that the girl in Bradenton once stood on Gasoline Ally at the Indi 500! I also know one once stood at the The St. James Infirmary bar in Mountain View, CA until 1998 when the place burned down along with the Uniroyal Girl inside. There are a few that have fallen off the charts and seem to be gone for good including the girl that used to stand in Ocoee, FL, Del Rio, TX and Chincoteague, VA. As always muffler men or muffler ladies in this case always keep most of their secrets to themselves and who knows how many more gals are out there and where they might be.

Current Uniroyal Girl Locations

Mt Vernon, IL Pearsonville, CA  Ungar, WV Gainesville, TX Bradenton, FL Lamesa, TX        El Paso, TX Hilltop, NJ Blackfoot, ID Rocky Mount, NC Peoria, IL Taber, Alberta

Pahrump Big Friend Update

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IMG_2025I have followed the unfolding story in Pahrump, NV concerning their extremely rare Big Friend very closely over the last few months. Thankfully due to those of us with an interest for this sort of thing, made it known to various key players in that town how rare this guy was. Earlier this year the news and paper got involved and soon everyone in town realized what they had (or did have). By that time the big guy had already made his way to the Pahrump Valley disposal where he still resides today. Two reporters, Deanna O’donnell and Mark Waite have been very instrumental in telling his story from the start in mid December last year when he came down. In fact channel 46 did one story that heavily used this blog and 3 of my pictures appeared in the story, including one with me in it (although it’s a wide shot) Needless to say I was surprised when I watched that clip. I’ll keep updating this blog from time to time on the developments with this Texaco Big friend. Currently none of the remaining big friends are in their original paint scheme for Texaco and it is our hope that he’s restored back to the days when he wore the Texaco star, colors, cap and all.

#8 Pahrump, NV Texaco Big Friend (now in storage)

ImageOne of the rarest muffler men you will find this one is actually what is known as a Big Friend. He was also made by international fiberglass but was made from a different mold and designed specifically for the Texaco gas stations. He is one of only 4 remaining that I know of and is extremely rare. The other known big friends are in OR, AR and ID. At one time he stood at a texaco station in Las Vegas on the Boulder Highway but has since been repainted to look more like one of Robin Hoods merry men and stood atop a pole holding a sign for a closed business. Sadly on December 12, 2013 he was taken down and removed after the land was turned over to the Moon family in a court settlement. Unfortunately no one seemed to be aware of his historical value as a Texaco Big Friend and so he was simply hauled off and taken to the dump. Thankfully the guys at the landfill figured there was something unique about him and put him in a storage container. He took some damage when he was taken down and is currently in a few pieces in storage. I have always hoped one of these last remaining big friends would be restored back to factory colors the way they rolled out of International Fiberglass 47 years ago maybe this guy still has that possibility in his future.