Route 66 Muffler Men: Collect them all

A small herd of massive fiberglass men haunt Route 66 in Illinois. Over 20 feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds, these gentle giants hoist items like a rocket ship and a hot dog and hang out with a big pink elephant.

Gemini Giant
Would you like a side of rocket ship with your hamburger? Amanda Kooser/CNET

LIVINGSTON, Ill.--I see that you have a mint condition Rocket Firing Boba Fett action figure. That's pretty cool, but not as cool as my fully restored Gemini Giant with all accessories, astronaut helmet, and rocket ship intact.

I'm collecting Route 66 Muffler Men for the Geek's Guide to Route 66 . These massive fiberglass statues dominate the parking lots and roadside attractions where they live. They all come from the common birthplace of the now defunct International Fiberglass in Venice, Calif., during the 1960s. As impressive as they look standing in place, imagine seeing one trucking down the highway on its way to a new home.

Roadside America has a handy spotter's guide to get you oriented when starting your own Muffler Man collection. I bagged three Muffler Men in one day of driving on Illinois's extensive chunk of the Mother Road. I was going to have them mounted on plaques for my living room but couldn't find a willing taxidermist.

Gemini Giant
This bad boy is a reminder of the days when the Space Age was upon us and all things rocket-related were cool. The Gemini Giant holds down the fort at the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, Ill. He weighs 500 pounds and is a towering 28 feet tall. That's more than 27 feet taller than your average action figure.

Bunyon's Statue
The Gemini Giant's twin brother hefts a honkin' huge hot dog just down the road in Atlanta, Ill. He once stood sentinel over a cafe in the town, but decided to stick around after the the diner closed. Really, who's going to tell a 500-pound man with a hot dog that he can't hang out?

Related links
• Geek's guide to Route 66, part 1
• Dungeons & Dragons park: Dice not included
• Cadillac Ranch: Texas-size lawn ornaments
• Route 66: Build your own giant Blue Whale

Pink Elephant Harley Man
He's not as big, but there is an unmistakable family resemblance between the fiberglass Harley-Davidson Muffler Man and his bigger brothers up the road. He also looks a bit like that guy from the Village People. His home is a field next to the Pink Elephant Antiques Mall in Livingston, Ill.

Why is it called the Pink Elephant? I'm glad you asked. Instead of a big blue ox, this Paul Bunyan look-alike has a fiberglass pink elephant for a pet. Plenty more fiberglass creations surround the building, including a freakishly tall boy dressed for the beach and a Twistee Treat stand that dishes out ice cream to Route 66 travelers.

Harley Muffler Man with ice cream sign
A muffler would fit right into those big hands. Amanda Kooser/CNET

 

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