The Bakersfield Giant Indian

Weird California

Large giants standing 18 to 25 feet tall litter the highways of America, several scattered throughout California. In the 1960s and 1970s a fiberglass company called International Fiberglass created these roadside giants. In 1962, a man called Bob Prewitt who at the time owned Prewitt Fiberglass created the very first Muffler Man, a Paul Bunyan style giant for PB Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. In 1963, Steve Dashew purchased the business from him and until 1975, Muffler Men were churned out by the company, now called International Fiberglass, and appeared on roadways throughout the United States.

The only Indian style Muffler Man in California is in Bakersfield. Originally purchased by Ken Barnes in 1965 for the sum of about $1400, it was used to advertise Ken's tire shop, promoting Mohawk brand tires. There it resided in the middle of a roundabout, Garces Traffic Circle, before the tire shop was sold. Afterwards, it then was on display at a local school as the mascot for the Warriors. Eventually it ended up being taken down and stored in a back yard where it wasn't kept up and suffered from vandalism. Now the big Indian resides outside The Corral Café, far across town from its original location at Ken's tire shop. He now resides on Alfred Harrell Highway, a road named after Alfred Harrell, former owner of the Bakersfield Californian Newspaper. It is said that before he was put up at the Corral Café, he underwent somewhere around a $7000 to $8000 restoration to bring the Muffler Man back to the proud Indian he is today.

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