19511953 Road Jet

1952 Muntz Jet

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

Vehicle Profiles

Roadster

Chassis Num: 52M–246

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 a....[continue reading]

Roadster

Chassis Num: 52M232

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 ....[continue reading]

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-fangl....[continue reading]

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.....[continue reading]

Roadster

Chassis Num: M134

The early history of this Muntz Jet Convertible is not known. It is known to have been in Wyoming up until the millennium, when it was purchased by Mr. Jack Halpen of Calgary, Canada. Mr. Halpen treated the car to a comprehensive restoration that wou....[continue reading]

Roadster
Chassis #: 52M–246 
Roadster
Chassis #: 52M232 
Roadster
Chassis #: M130 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: M134 

History

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
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