He’s 25 feet tall and made of fiberglass.
One interesting thing about the old Bud and Ben Mufflers in Oak Cliff is that there is no Ben.
It’s not that he’s dead — Ben was never alive in the first place.
Decades ago, the sign read, “Bud and Ken Mufflers,” named for two brothers-in-law who were in business together selling mufflers. But in 1969, they parted ways.
Instead of throwing away the whole sign, though, frugal Lewis “Bud” Easdon switched Ken’s “K” to a “B” and thus Ben was born.
Another interesting thing about Bud and Ben Mufflers — now called Reyes Mufflers at 308 W. Illinois — has to do with the giant they employed to attract customers.
The Oak Cliff muffler man is made of fiberglass and stands about 25 feet tall. At one time there were hundreds of these guys across the country. They were made between 1960-1974 by a Venice, Calif.-based company called International Fiberglass.
It was based on a mold that also was used to make the “big friend” for Texaco, “the cowboy” for Phillips and the statue for Paul Bunyan Cafe in Flagstaff, Ariz. There was eventually even a towering “Miss Uniroyal” who came in two versions, wearing a dress or sporting a bikini.
The fiberglass statues cost between $1,800-$2,800 new, but today they’ve been known to fetch $15,000-$20,000.
Bud and Ben’s Muffler Man holds a humongous muffler, but their other American doppelgangers are all made to hold oversized versions of whatever their stores are selling: a roll of carpet, a pizza box, a tire or a plate of Mexican food. Or, as in the case of the Paul Bunyan, a colossal axe.
The Oak Cliff muffler man went up in 1965, inspired by the Kip’s Big Boy statue that was across the street at the time. The Kip’s building was torn down a few years ago and replaced with La Michoacana Meat Market.