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Home Pick of the Day Pick of the Day: 1951 Muntz Jet luxury convertible built by the...

Pick of the Day: 1951 Muntz Jet luxury convertible built by the Madman

The two-owner example of the rare car is said to be extensively restored

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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.”

muntz

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.

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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.

Madman Muntz is depicted in the steering wheel horn button
Hagerty
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

13 COMMENTS

  1. being that my last name is MUNTZ i would really love to own this and i am related to the madman but i never got any inheritance from him. id be good with this beautiful piece of art. I do hope whoever buys this takes really good care of it. As i became disabled at 43 and now at 61 i just dont have the money for this . cannot believe how beautiful this rare piece of history is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! wow

  2. ..WE HAVE SO MANY BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN AUTOS & TRUCKS HERE .. WHY DON’T YOU FOCUS ON THEM..!! I LOVE AMERICAN AUTOS & TRUCKS..!!.. MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE 2 NEWS LETTERS , ONE FOR AMERICAN & THE OTHER FOR FOREIGN AUTOS..

      • I remember his first car stereos and the pesky Pirate figure, I was truly surprised to see this car. as a person who throughout his life always read about all cars old and new I had never seen one of these in any books or Leno’s Garage. I really like the styling and appreciate the snakeskin interior to match a nice pair of boots! So flamboyant.

    • Jon, Your memory is a little faulty. I was there and the resemblance is actually to a 1949/50/51 Mercury.
      I had a ’49 Ford coupe which was much more square bodied. The Mercury made a great taildragger.

  3. Seems like a bargain price for a rare version of a Very rare car!

    Reminds me of stumbling across a one off DeSoto show car, two seater sports car that was a last ditch effort at the end of the 50’s for DeSoto, and there it was at the Charlotte Auto Fair, alone outside without any fanfare- in need of a total restoration.

    Odd Balls Rule!
    Give me a Studebaker, Rambler or Packard thank you very much.

  4. … Wow; never seen a Muntz with the top on…. would think the ohv Cadillac engine would be more desireable – but they are Very rare cars indeed…
    … McCahill reported ‘faster than a singed cat’ iirc… been a few years…. :b

  5. It looks more of an Italian Style auto from the 50s/ 60s…
    Love the snake skin interior definitely unique…glad it was cared for well !!!
    E.T. New York

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