Muffler men are tall fiberglass sculptures created by International Fiberglass in Venice, California, that were once popular advertising icons on the roads of America. There were many types of this roadside attraction produced — classic, Bunyan, cowboy, Indian — and they are found holding everything from hot dogs to American Flags. Another type is the bent-rod holding Mr. Bendo muffler man, like this one that once lived in Chicago, Illinois.
Mr. Bendo is named so because that is the name that is printed on his shirt pocket. Unlike most of his counterparts with a classic right hand up, left hand down stature, this guy has his right hand down, extended outwards, and left arm down by his side.
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Unfortunately, this Chicago muffler man is no longer standing in Chicago. On June 18, 2010, a harsh storm rolled through the city and knocked over everything from the waist up. His torso fell and his head went missing. The owners eventually found the fiberglass body remnants and put them in storage, leaving the lone panted legs standing for a few years.
Alas, Ced’s Mufflers eventually went out of business in 2014. But there was good news to come from it!
In 2015, the Chicago muffler man was bought by Free Time Hobbies, a hobby store in Blue Ridge, Georgia. He was reassembled, restored, transported, and transformed into Mr. Hobby. He was given a new pair of white pants, a red collared shirt, and the muffler he previously held was replaced with a P-51 Model Airplane. Watch this fascinating video by American Giants that details the muffler man’s history, the search for his missing head, and the roadside attraction’s journey from Chicago to Georgia.
But that is not where this muffler man’s story ends. In 2019 Free Time Hobbies sold the building, and the giant man, to a dental office, Smile Blue Ridge. Now dubbed “Dr. Blue Ridge,” he was repainted to wear all blue (reminiscent of dental scrubs) and his toy airplane was replaced with a giant toothbrush.
Mr. Bendo Muffler Man / Mr. Hobby / Dr. Blue Ridge
Current Location: Smile Blue Ridge, 47 Dunbarton Farm Rd, Blue Ridge, GA 30513
Former Location: Ced’s Auto Service, 3940 W Grand Ave., Chicago, IL
Cost: Free to see.
Hours: Always visible.
Photos: November 25, 2007