1949 Kurtis Kraft Sport

Earl 'Mad Man' Muntz was a used-car salesman in Illinois. In the early 1940s he began transporting cars from the mid-west to Southern California where he would sell the cars and make a profit. After World War II he joined forces with Henry Kaiser and became a Kaiser-Frazer dealer. It is believed that in 1947 he sold 22,000 Kaisesr-Frazers. His talents also included the sale of radios, televisions, and other electronic equipment.

Frank Kurtis is remembered for his racers that he constructed for midget and Indy car competition. He even produced a very successful line of road racers. In 1949, the Kurtis Sports Car was introduced and available as a completed unit or as a kit car. Around twenty examples were constructed when Kurtis introduced the legendary 500S.

In 1950, Muntz purchased Frank Kurtis' designs for Indy-car building and all of the tooling for the production of a two-seater sports car. The result was the Muntz Road Jet. There were many challenges involved, such as increasing the chassis by twelve inches to accommodate rear seating. The price of the vehicle was also a challenge; Muntz brought the price of the vehicle to a more reasonable price by foregoing the use of aluminum for steel. By doing this, the weight of the vehicle increased. Some of the vehicles were fitted with fiberglass fenders in an effort to reduce overall weight. Power was provided by a Cadillac V8 initially and later replaced by a flathead Lincoln V8. At this time, Muntz was able to secure Hydramatic transmissions from Ford.

There were 30 Muntz Road Jet vehicles constructed. Production began in 1950 transpiring in Glendale, California. Later, production was moved to Evanston, Illinois midway through 1951. At this point, the Cadillac engine and the aluminum body were no longer used and the Lincoln powerplant and steel bodies were used in their place. The wheelbase increased by an additional three inches.

Muntz automobiles were not overly flamboyant but they did come equipped with many standard options including a wire recorder in the radio and a cooled liquor cabinet in the compartments under the backseat armrest. All of the cars came equipped with seat belts which were attached to the seat frames instead of the floor.

Due to the costs of production and the expensive machinery used to construct these vehicles, it is estimated that Muntz lost an average of $1000 on each of the vehicles produced. This did not slow production at first, but when Muntz's other business ventures began to follow suite, Production was halted.

Ford and Chevrolet began work in the early 1950s on a two-seat sports car. When Muntz learned of this, he decided to create a suitable competitor for this upcoming sports car. The examples were constructed in time for the 1953 Indianapolis Sports Car Show and dubbed the Muntz Roadster. Also on the show floor were the Corvette which received all of the media attention. The Muntz Roadster was left with little fan-fare.


by Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2017
Vehicle Profiles
1949 Kurtis Kraft Sport vehicle information

Roadster

Frank Kurtis built the majority of the Indy race cars in the 1940's through the 1960's. He wanted to incorporate that racing technology in a sports car, and he designed and built that sports car in 1949.....[continue reading]

1949 Kurtis Kraft Sport vehicle information

Roadster

The Kurtis Sports Car has been called the first true American Sports Car. This car was the high school graduation gift to Frank Kurtis' son, Arlen, in October of 1950. He was starting his senior year and Frank gave this car as an early graduation. Th....[continue reading]

1949 Kurtis Kraft Sport vehicle information

Roadster

Chassis Num: 12

This Kurtis Kraft Sport is serial number 12 of 17 built. The car was constructed in the same Los Angeles Kurtis shop where the Indianapolis-winning race cars were built. Many articles were written and many photographs were taken of the Kurtis Sport....[continue reading]

1949 Kurtis Kraft Sport vehicle information

Roadster

This is number 5 of only 17 Kurtis Sports Cars built by legendary Indianapolis race car builder Frank Kurtis in Glendale, California. He designed and built these cars to break the class record at Bonneville which he accomplished. They were featured o....[continue reading]

Roadster
 
Roadster
 
Roadster
Chassis #: 12 
Roadster
 


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Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Kurtis
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)
1951Chevrolet (1,229,986)Ford (1,013,381)Plymouth (611,000)
1950Chevrolet (1,498,590)Ford (1,208,912)Plymouth (610,954)
1949Ford (1,118,308)Chevrolet (1,010,013)Plymouth (520,385)
1948Chevrolet (696,449)Ford (430,198)Plymouth (412,540)
1947Chevrolet (671,546)Ford (429,674)Plymouth (382,290)
1946Ford (468,022)Chevrolet (398,028)Plymouth (264,660)

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