He’s that tall, handsome man standing on the roof.
Slicked back hair. Blue jeans. Bodacious biceps. Chiseled face. Cocky grin.
The 20-foot fiberglass humanoid has been turning heads on Hewitt Avenue for more than 30 years, wearing the same outfit.
What’s up with this guy?
Why are his hands outstretched? And where’d he get those muscles?
He’s a Muffler Man.
He’s part of a brotherhood of men cut from the same fiberglass mold. According to Roadside America, what started as a Paul Bunyan character promoting a restaurant in the 1960s led to a California company making a line of Muffler Men holding mufflers to reel in customers.
He was a hit. After all, who could resist those alluring eyes and ripped bod?
It led to copycat statues as well as variants such as dinosaurs and busty women.
Then, neon signage took over. The manly men were repurposed as soldiers, pirates, cowboys and astronauts, their powerful arms holding everything from rockets and hot dogs to guitars and golf clubs.
Go to Google images of “muffler man” to see the titans with red pants, green jeans, camouflage, suspenders, mustaches, gapped teeth and shirtless. Make sure to check out the one revamped as a Howdy Doody Man.
Want one of your own? There are swag sites selling Muffler Men figurines, bobble-heads and T-shirts that say, “I’m a Muffler Man, Not a Girlie Man.”
Our local Muffler Man is a 12th Man during Seahawks season, with a blue flag in his strong hands.
How’d he end up on Hewitt Avenue?
All Boyce Cardell knows is that shortly after he bought the one-story building at 1110 Hewitt Ave. three decades ago, he leased space to a muffler shop that brought along the Muffler Man.
There wasn’t room on the sidewalk for the mammoth dude.
“He wanted to put the man on top of the building. I didn’t really want it there to mess up the roof,” Cardell said, “but I put it up there.”
He wired up the giant so as not to tumble.
A few months later, the owner of the muffler shop went bankrupt.
“When he left, he said, ‘He’s yours,’” Cardell said. “I like him up there now.”
Like any man, he needs a little TLC now and then.
“He gets moss on him. I get up there and wash him with a gunny sack and water,” Cardell said. “I need to put something on his head to keep the seagulls from landing on him. I need to have him painted.”
He’s still wearing the same paint as when he moved to the Hewitt ‘hood.
For the past 25 years or so, the building has been occupied by SSA Marine, a stevedoring office that hires longshoreman to load and unload ships. The tall man makes it an easy place to find.
Most people pop by out of curiosity.
Sheryl Miller has worked the front desk at SSA Marine for 24 years, so she sees the tall man’s fan club in action outside the window.
“If I had a dollar for every time I saw somebody stop to take a picture I could retire,” she said.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; email@example.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
Is he a Muffler Man?
How to tell a real Muffler Man from an imposter:
- Knock on a fiberglass leg to see if it’s hollow.
- The left palm faces down, right palm faces up with an open grasp.
- His blocky shoes measure about 4 feet.
- Eyes may appear to stare blankly into the middle distance or may be painted to leer down at visitors.
- Crack a beer bottle over this guy’s noggin and he won’t be fazed.