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Muntz

The Muntz Car Company was created in Glendale, California in the early 1950s by Madman Muntz.
Filed under:  Companies
 
Comment(s): 3
 
 

Madman Muntz was a well known local used car dealer and electronics retailer. He was assisted by Frank Kurtis, who had earlier attempted to produce a sports car under the Kurtis marque, and the Muntz design was influenced by its predecessor. Muntz produced only one model, the Jet, which was a full-size coupe.


muntz logo

Muntz logo.

The Jet was something of a hodgepodge, using some parts, such as engines, bought from other companies and some fabricated in-house. The body design was unique, however, and featured a removable hardtop, something of a rarity among full-size cars. It was sold as a sports car, but it was actually too large and heavy for that market segment. After the first prototypes, production was shifted to Evanston, Illinois.

The company managed to produce only about 400 cars during 1951-1954, and Muntz himself estimated that it lost about $1,000 on each car; this financial drain eventually caused him to close the company.

Muntz Jets today are valuable collector pieces. Their unusual roof and styling, and even more their extreme rarity, have given them a cachet that seems likely to endure.


muntz icon

As Muntz set out to dominate the used-car business, his logo was a caricature of himself in red long johns and a black Napoleonic hat.

muntz logotype

Earl "Madman" Muntz logotype (1917).

muntz steroepak logo.gif

Earl "Madman" Muntz was one of the most interesting practitioners of the art of hucksterism that America has ever known. He was a self-taught engineer, an outrageous personality, and the inventor of the Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track system, the direct ancestor of our beloved 8-track.

Earl "Madman" Muntz was a former Kaiser-Frazer automobile dealer who had earned his nickname flamboyant advertising and wild deals. His motto was "I buy 'em retail and sell 'em wholesale. It's more fun that way!" Already a national celebrity by the 1950s, he soon jumped from auto sales to electronics, opening a chain of television retail outlets. The sets he sold were manufactured by another of his other firm's, Muntz Television Inc., and they were based on a clever design that saved a few bucks on parts and assembly. The TV business had its ups and downs, and Muntz went from riches to rags when he landed in bankruptcy court in 1955,and then back to riches a few years later when the market turned around.

Car audio was the next world Muntz set out to conquer. In the early 60's, he started producing the Muntz Stereo-Pak, a 4-track system. Bill Lear took a ride in a car with a Muntz stereo in 1963. He was so impressed that he immediately drove over to see Earl Muntz and signed a distribution deal. Lear installed Muntz players in some Lear Jets, and he began taking the players apart and finding ways to improve upon their design. And so the 8-track was born.

Earl Muntz died in 1987. At the time of his death, he had shifted the focus of his business to cellular phones. There were many other schemes in between - projection T.V.'s and aluminum houses, to name just two. Muntz was married seven times, and until the end, he drove a custom Lincoln Continental with a TV built into the dashboard (he claimed it helped him to drive better).

(History from Museum of Engineering)

MUNTZ CARS
muntz jet 1 52.jpeg

1952 Muntz Jet. (source: The San Diego Collection)

muntz jet 2 52.jpeg

1952 Muntz Jet. (source: The San Diego Collection)

muntz jet conv 51

1951 Muntz Jet Convertible, USA.

This 1953 Muntz Jet race car comes via eBay. This vehicle was used in (or was intended for use in) competition events during the 1960's. Small lettering beneath the large "Muntz Stero-Pak" on the door, reads "not associated with Muntz TV." Many Muntz 4 and 8 track tapes of the 1960's carry a similar disclaimer."

Ed Gardner, a well known actor of this era once owned the car. Mr. Gardner is most remembered as Archie, the manager of Duffy's Tavern in the television series of that name broadcast in the mid 1950's.

Serial number is 53M526. Mileage is unknown. Engine is believed to be 8 cylinder Cadillac.

(This information is from the Muntz Registry).

muntz 53 1

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 2

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 4

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 3

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 5

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 7

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

muntz 53 6

1953 Muntz Jet race car.

MUNTZ COLLATERAL
muntz stereo ad

Full page ad for the Muntz Stereo-Pak 4-track system.

popsci

The Muntz Jet (top right) was featured on the cover of the September 1951 issue.

muntz jet catalog cover 50

1950 Muntz Jet catalog cover.

muntz jet catalog in 50

1950 Muntz Jet catalog interior page.

muntz jet ad 52

1952 Muntz Jet ad. (source: Alden)

RELATED ARTICLES
Kurtis   Founded by Frank Kurtis. Only around 20 examples were constructed.
Kurtis brochures   
LINKS
Madman Muntz   American Maverick.
 
 
COMMENTS
zero2291 days ago

I see a great buddy/adventure movie about a Muntz, a Hupmobile, and a Revolta, all heading out west to find thier missing friend, Tiguan.

Sheila Hall1865 days ago

Oh! I like this retro style! I wish I could buy one.

Rodney 1539 days ago

I have this Muntz stereo-pac 4-Track shown in the above ad. circa 1969. In mint cond.

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