Muntz Car Company
In 1950 Earl Muntz bought Indy car builder Frank Kurtis’s design, based on Frank Kurtis' 1941 Buick. Earl also bought all the tooling for $200000. The car was renamed to the Muntz Road Jet. Muntz stretched the Kurtis “sports car” 13 inches to add room for a back seat. The styling was simple, but streamlined. The chassis was advanced for its time with a front subframe supporting the independent front suspension and engine joined to a rear subframe by structural sheet metal rocker panels in a semi-unit body structure. “Mad Man”, with an unerring eye for exposure, made sure the Muntz Jets were visible, choosing bright paint hues and flashy contrasting interiors under the removable Carson-style padded hardtop.
The first Muntz Jets were powered by Ford engines. But soon as the aluminum body was swapped with steel, the 400 pounds heavier Muntz were powered by Cadillac 331-cid engines. But GM soon declined to supply them and when Muntz transferred production from Glendale, California to Evanston, Illinois. He secured a supply of Lincoln V-8 engines and Hydramatic transmissions from Ford. Most were flathead Lincolns, but the final cars, with a wheelbase stretched three more inches for more back seat room, were powered by 205 horsepower overhead valve Lincoln V-8s, giving the last of the Muntz Jets honest 100+ mph performance. Only 28 Muntz were made in Glendale.
The Muntz Jets were, like their sponsor, nothing if not flamboyant. In addition to the bright colors Muntz touted fantastic options – most of them never seen in one of the cars – like a wire-recorder in the radio and a cooled liquor cabinet in the compartments under the back seat armrests. Advanced features in the Jets did, however, include a console between the front seats and seat belts. “Mad Man” felt that any car called a “Jet” had to have seat belts, although they were attached to the seat frames, not the floors, and were more show than go.
Even at the price tag on $5500, Muntz was losing $1000 per unit. According to Earl, 394 Muntz were made between 1950 and 1954. The last 15-18 Muntz were made out of fiberglass After Muntz went broke, Kurtis got some of the assets of the Muntz Car Company to settle the debt. Kurtis built seven fiberglass bodied and two passenger cars before finding out that he couldn't make any more money than Muntz The cars were known as Kurtis Cads.
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