Although many associate the Muntz Jet with Earl “Mad Man” Muntz, credit for its design rightly goes to legendary racing car builder Frank Kurtis. A smooth two-seater with aluminum and fiberglass bodywork, some 36 examples were built before Kurtis sold the operation to Muntz in 1950.
Muntz extended the wheelbase to 113 inches and added a rear seat. He chose the Cadillac overhead-valve V8 for power, upgraded the interior and renamed the car the “Muntz Jet.” After 30 cars were built in Glendale, California, Muntz moved operations to Evanston, Illinois. The wheelbase grew to 116 inches, and a “flathead” Lincoln V8 replaced the Cadillac engine. Transmissions were usually GM Hydra-Matics, but a three-speed with overdrive was also available.
Muntz sold his car to a number of celebrities including Clara Bow, Vic Damone and bandleader Freddie Martin. Performance was quite good, with top speeds in the 108-120 mph range. Production ceased in 1954, with perhaps 350 built in all. Muntz admitted to losing $400,000 on the venture due to the painstaking assembly process and extensive handwork lavished on the cars.
his particular example is offered from a large and respected private collection in California. Maintained in climate-controlled storage and regularly exercised, it features dual spotlights, a removable hard top and, of course, a Muntz radio. Interior appointments include red leather upholstery, matching carpeting and a machine-turned instrument panel with a complete set of gauges. Much rarer today than when new, this fascinating Muntz Jet is considered by many to mark the true beginnings of the “personal luxury” market, nearly a decade before the four-seat Ford Thunderbird of 1958 to 1960. Auction Source: 2010 Vintage Cars of Meadow Book by RM Auctions
According to the Muntz Registry, this car was originally finished in light pink with an off-white interior. It has long been believed that it was owned new by DeHaven, and previous research also included a letter from a Muntz employee who remembered delivering this car to her in New York, although RM does not currently have any conclusive evidence. Between 1960 and 1969, it is known to have resided in Encinitas, California, where it was kept in storage before going through a series of owners in San Diego and Las Vegas. The previous owner acquired the car in 1988 and oversaw its restoration before its acquisition by the O’Quinn Collection.
During restoration, the car was returned to its proper light pink finish with a white interior. Although the restoration has held up well, certain cosmetic imperfections are visible upon closer examination. It should also be noted that the data tag under the hood reveals the numbers DR141664CAL as well as 52M-505-3, the number under which it is listed in the Muntz Registry.
1952 Muntz Jet Convertible – did not sell for $85,000
This particular Muntz is powered by a Lincoln Flathead V8 mated to a Hydra-Matic transmission. According to the Muntz Registry booklet, oral history suggests this car was stored in Mississippi for an extended period of time, from 1962 to 1979. The current owner, a noted California-based collector, undertook an extensive and total body-off restoration, including a rebuild of the motor, transmission and rear-end. The five-year restoration cost about $175,000. Finished in black with a black top and red interior, the car is beautifully presented and even comes with a Muntz eight-track car radio. It is surely one of the best Muntz Jets in existence. Auction Source: 2009 RM Auctions Sports & Classics of Monterey