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1952 Muntz Jet news, pictures, specifications, and information
Roadster
Chassis Num: 52M–246
 
Sold for $117,000 at 2009 Bonhams.
Earl 'Madman' Muntz was an extremely successful used car salesman in California. The Jet was Muntz's answer to the sports cars that were coming onto the scene in the early 1950s-cars like the Kaiser Darrin, the Hudson Italia, the Chevrolet Corvette and the Nash Healey, Muntz met with famous race car builder Frank Kurtis and purchased the rights to produce a Kurtis road car. Muntz stretched the chassis and created a 4-seat sports car. This car is a custom version built by Joe Bailon for bandleader Freddy Martin. Many body modifications were made, changing nearly every panel, and a new Corvette V8 engine was installed. The changes, which were completed in 1955, make this particular Muntz Jet unique.

Indy car builder Frank Kurtis produced 36 sports cars in 1949. Earl 'Madman' Muntz, of TV fame, bought the tooling and manufacturing rights from Kurtis and began producing Muntz cars. Costing more than $5,500, fewer than 300 were produced. All were convertibles, with removable 'Carson' tops. Band leader Freddy Martin bought this Muntz in 1952. The flathead Lincoln V8 took it to 60 mph in under nine seconds, apparently not quickly enough for Martin, who commissioned Joe Bailon to restyle the car and install a V8 engine. He retained the maroon vinyl interior. The current owners bought the car in 2004, after it had been in inhospitable storage for 40 years. Joe Bailon vividly recalled the car and was instrumental in its authentic restoration.

In 2009, this Muntz Jet Convertible was offered for sale by Bonhams Auction at the Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club in Carmel, CA. It was estimated to sell for $150,000 - $175,000. As bidding came to a close, the lot had been sold for the sum of $117,000 inclusive of Buyer's Premium.
Earl 'Mad Man' Muntz made his fortune by selling low cost TVs of his own design and is credited with the invention of the abbreviation 'TV.' He even named his daughter Tee Vee. He made another fortune when he invented the stereo 4-track tape player that was the basis of Bill Lear's 8-track.

In 1950, Muntz purchased Indy car builder Frank Kurtis's design and all of the tooling. From this, he created the 2-seat sports car renamed as the Muntz Road Jet. The Kurtis 'Sports Car' was stretched 13 inches by Muntz to add additional room for the back seat. The cars had a simple, yet streamlined styling. The cars were bold and elegant, with colors that were eye catching and flashy. Under the hood was a 205 horsepower overhead valve Lincoln V8, giving the car a top speed exceeding 100 mph.

Estimates on how many cars were produced is not known. It is believed to be anywhere from 200 to 400 cars.

By Daniel Vaughan | Nov 2009
Roadster
Chassis Num: 52M232
 
High bid of $85,000 at 2009 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
This Muntz Jet is powered by a Lincoln Flathead V8 engine and mated to a Hydra-Matic transmission. It is believed that this car was stored in Mississippi for an extended period of time, from 1962 to 1979. The current owner undertook an extensive and total body-off restoration, including a rebuild of the motor, transmission and rear-end. The work took five years to complete at an expense of $175,000. It is painted in black with a black top and a red interior. There is even a Muntz eight-track car radio.

In 2009, this Muntz Jet was offered for sale at the Sports & Classics of Monterey auction in Monterey, California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $120,000-$160,000. Bidding reached $85,000 but was not enough to satisfy the car's reserve. The lot remained unsold.

In 2010, this Muntz Jet was offered for sale at the Vintage Motor Cars of Meadow Brook where it was estimated to sell for $80,000 - $110,000 and offered without reserve. As bidding came to a close, the car was sold for the sum of $82,500 including buyer's premium.

By Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2010
Roadster
Chassis Num: M130
 
Though not a true sports car, the Muntz Jet owes its lineage to one: the Kurtis Sports Car. In the early 1950's, fast-talking Los Angeles radio and television manufacturer Earl 'Mad Man' Muntz made his name as a high-powered huckster on the new-fangled invention called the television. In 1951 Kurtis sold the rights to his Sports Car to Muntz for a reported $70,000. (Muntz claimed it was $200,000). Per Muntz's wishes, the chassis was extended to accommodate a rear seat. It was renamed the Muntz Jet with the longer and heavier car now priced at $5,500, quite a jump from Kurtis' initial $3,990 offering and more expensive than a new Cadillac at the time. Rather than fiberglass and aluminum, Muntz constructed it of steel panels and used Cadillac and Lincoln engines to power the much heavier car. A numerically lower final drive ratio gave the Jet a higher top speed than its Kurtis predecessor.

The interior featured a full console, with radio and four-passenger seating. A lift-off hardtop roof was also included. The first 28 cars were built in Los Angeles, but sales proved difficult and Muntz moved production to his home base of Evanston, Illinois. Despite the high price, Muntz reportedly lost $1,000 on each one he made. A total of 394 were produced before Muntz called it quits in 1954.

This car was originally owned by the Pillsbury family and was the first car to be built in Muntz's Evansville, Illinois facility.
Roadster
 
The Muntz Car Company had its beginning in Glendale, CA. The company was founded by Earl 'Madman' Muntz, a well-known local used car dealer and electronics retailer. The company had a short life as a car manufacturer; from 1950 to 1954.

Muntz was assisted by Frank Kurtis, who had earlier attempted to produce a sports car under the Kurtis Kraft marque. A mere 36 Kurtis Kraft Sports cars were produced by 1950.

In 1951, Kurtis sold Muntz the license to manufacture the cars. They were quickly rebadged as the 'Muntz Jet'; he extended the body to make it a four-seater, and exchanged the Ford engine with a larger Cadillac V8. Later, this engine would be replaced with a less-expensive Lincoln side-valve V8.

The company managed to produce approximately 400c ars between 1951 and 1954. Due to the high manufacturing cost, Muntz himself estimated that his company lost about $1,000 on each car; this financial drain eventually caused him to close the company.

Because the cars were distinctive in design, well-built and great performers for their time, Muntz Jets are rare and valuable collector pieces.
Trying to measure up to European car manufacturers, American came up with the Muntz Jet, an American sport car that was both practical and fashionable for the times. The Muntz Jet was a 4-seater convertible in the mold of the 58-61 T-bird.
The original design came from Frank Kurtis before Earl Muntz bought the design and redesigned and re-engineered it. Earl ‘The Mad Man' Muntz was considered to be a entrepreneur. With a background in radio during the early 40's, he made his millions during by selling the first televisions for mass market as a Dumont Television franchiser.

Built in Gardena, California in the early 1950's, the first 28 prototypes were made of aluminum with a 113 inch wheelbase and were powered by a 331 cid Cadillac V8. Body panels were aluminum based that formed over a steel cage subframe on a ‘X' frame chassis.

Eventually the production site was moved to Evanston, Illinois, Muntz's hometown. It was here that the vehicle received a modified steel body and the powertrain was changed to the Lincoln flathead V8. Using fiberglass front fenders and an OHV Lincoln V8, producing 154 hp. Tested at 6.7 seconds, the Jet made zero to sixty, and a top speed of 119 mph.

As Muntz produced his last cars, he was estimated to have taken nearly a $1000 loss on each vehicle made. At the time, the price of a new Muntz Jet was between $5000 & $6000. Today they range from $10,000 to $40,000 based on their condition.
Well received by audiences in Southern California showrooms, deposits were enough to ensure a satisfactory production beginning.

Producing around 400 Jets between 1951 and 1954, it's estimated that at least 49 survive today.

Most likely due to the huge loss he took on the production of each car, the Muntz Jet venture ended after four years.

By Jessica Donaldson
For more information and related vehicles, click here

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