While the flamboyant Earl “Madman” Muntz made his fortune as a used-car dealer and manufacturer of TVs and stereos, he is best-remembered by a select group of car collectors for his eponymous luxury car, the Muntz Jet, built from 1950 to 1954.
Designed on the chassis of the defunct Kurtis Sports Car, a failed venture that Muntz bought from Frank Kurtis, the Jet pioneered several innovations, such as seat belts and padded dashboards.
The Muntz Jet was an expensive convertible with a removable hardtop, and its style and exclusivity made it a favorite among the Hollywood elite. The Pick of the Day, a 1951 Muntz Jet, is a two-owner car originally bought by a minor celebrity, Ice Capades comedy skater and actor Freddie Trenkler.
“It was purchased in August 1951 for the considerable sum of $4,500 by Alfred ‘Freddie’ Trenkler, who achieved notoriety as a featured performer with the Ice Capades,” according to the Saint Ann, Missouri, dealer advertising the convertible on ClassicCars.com. “Mr. Trenkler retained ownership of the Jet for an astonishing four decades before finally selling to a Southern California family, well-known and well-respected for their collection of American automobiles. In their care since 1991, the Jet has been a favored car in the collection.”
This Jet was one of the first powered by a Lincoln V8 instead of the Cadillac engines used in the original batch of Muntz cars, as well as being one of the final examples built at the company’s Glendale, California, factory before moving to Evanston, Illinois.
“The desirable, California-built jets are identifiable by their slightly shorter 113” wheelbase and low-profile windshield frames,” the seller notes.
The Muntz has been treated to a “spectacular restoration,” the seller says, and is in sparkling condition throughout, as well as running like new. These cars with their aerodynamic shapes and lightweight aluminum body parts were quite fast in their day, with a top speed of 125 mph.
Many of the Muntz Jets were sold in extravagant colors and trim, and this one is no exception, with bold salmon paint and flashy snakeskin interior, which was one of several special upholstery treatments produced by the factory.
Just under 200 Muntz Jets were produced, although ever the showman, Madman Muntz claimed that twice as many were sold.
Muntz Jets in recent years have been re-discovered by collectors and command a strong fan base. This Jet is fairly priced at $119,900.
To view this vehicle on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.