1952 Muntz Jet

By the late 1940s, Indy race car builder Frank Kurtis was building aluminum-bodied two-seater 'Kurtis' sports cars based on the 1941 Buicks. In 1950, he sold the operation to Earl Muntz (who had purchased two examples), who had acquired his fortune selling used cars to returning servicemen, and his Mutz television sets. His televisions were simple, low cost, and of his own design. He is credited with inventing the abbreviation 'TV' - he even named his daughter Tee Vee. Another one of his inventions was the stereo 4-track tape player that was the basis of Bill Lear's 8-track. His outrageous radio and television ads were shown throughout Southern California, earning him the sobriquet of 'Mad Man.' Mike Shore had created the campaign, with Muntz dressed up as Napoleon and shouting 'I want to give them away, but Mrs. Muntz won't let me ... She's CRAAAZY! ... I buy 'em retail, sell 'em wholesale – It's more fun that way.' Over the years there were a total of seven Mrs. Muntzes.

Muntz acquired the line, tools, rights and unfinished chassis from Kurtis. The two-seater sports car sold by Muntz were called the Muntz Jets and were priced at $5,500. Kurtis made a few changes for Muntz, including lengthening the wheelbase to 113 inches and adding rear seats. The first 28 examples were built in Glendale, California, and the remainder in Evanston, Illinois. Earl Muntz once claimed that 394 cars were built, however, records and registry's deduced that fewer than 200 cars were completed by the time the operation ceased in 1954. Production proved uneconomical, Muntz also stated that he lost approximately $1,000 on each example. The $5,200 price tag for the Muntz Road Jet was more expensive than contemporary Lincoln and Cadillac. Production began in 1951 and came to a close in 1954.

The styling of the Muntz Jet was streamlined and simple. The chassis was advanced for its time with a front subframe supporting the independent front suspension and the engine joined to a rear subframe by structural sheet metal rocker panels in a semi-unit body structure. Bright and flashy paintwork was in keeping with 'Mad Man' Muntz's personality and it meant the Jets were highly visible and flamboyant.

The early Muntz Jets were powered by overhead valve Cadillac engines until GM decided to stop the supply. Muntz secured a supply of Lincoln V-8 engines and Hydramatic transmissions from Ford. Most were flathead Lincolns, with the final cars being powered by a 205 horsepower overhead valve Lincoln V8, giving the final Muntz Jets a top speed in excess of 100 mph. These final Jets also rested on a wheelbase that was stretched an additional three inches for more room for rear occupants.

Actor Victor Mature was employed by Muntz to sell his Muntz Jet Sports car to his Hollywood friends in return for a 'spiff.' Celebrity owners included Ed Gardner (of radio's Duffy's Tavern), newscaster Alex Dreier, Western star Lash LaRue, Mickey Rooney, Gloria DeHaven, Clara Bow, Grace Kelly, Vic Damone, Josephine Dillon (a gift from her husband, Clark Gable), and orchestra leader Freddy Martin.

Standard features included a console between the front seats and seat belts. The seat belts were attached to the seat frames and not the floors, and were more show than functional. Options available on the Muntz Jet were wire-recorder in the radio and a cooled liquor cabinet in the compartments under the back seat armrests.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2020

Related Reading : Muntz Jet History

Trying to measure up to European car manufacturers, Americans came up with the Muntz Jet, an American sports 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....
Continue Reading >>

1952 Vehicle Profiles

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

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]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

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]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: M130

Earl 'Madman' Muntz was a used car dealer during WWII. In 1949 he became a multi-unit Kaiser dealer. In 1950 he decided to build his own car, the Muntz Jet, and purchased the Frank Kurtis Company.....[continue reading]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

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]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

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]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

Roadster

Millionaire Earl 'Madman' Muntz earned his fortune as a TV manufacturer and used car salesman. His car life started in the early fifties when he purchased the rights to manufacture the Kurtis two-seat sports car, created by Indy car builder Frank Kur....[continue reading]

1952 Muntz Jet vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: 52M230

The Muntz Jet was produced by the Muntz Car Company in Glendale, California from 1949 and 1954 with approximately 198 examples built. Some consider the Jet to be one of the first Personal Luxury cars. The car was developed from the Kurtis Sports Car ....[continue reading]

Roadster
Chassis #: 52M–246 
Roadster
Chassis #: 52M232 
Roadster
Chassis #: M130 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: M134 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: 52M230 




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