Earl “Madman” Muntz was a salesman and a showman. He owned automotive dealerships nationwide, and built television sets. Allegedly he coined the term “TV” because it was too hard for skywriters to plaster “television” in the clouds. He was so proud of TV that he named his daughter Tee Vee Muntz. He was also the name behind, and the emblematic character on the wheel caps of, the Muntz Jet. The Muntz Jet was originally designed as the Kurtis Sports Car, a two seat aluminum-bodied roadster. After Earl Muntz purchased the tooling from Kurtis, he revamped the car as a four-seater and appointed it far more luxuriously. The changes added nearly 400 pounds to the Jet from its Kurtis origins, giving it a near 4000 pound heft, while adding 10 inches to the wheelbase. The Jet was built to accommodate either Cadillac or Lincoln V8 power, giving it serious performance for the time. Numerous sources of the day claimed the car was capable of 140 miles per hour, and Muntz made the outlandish claim that the Jet could shoot from zero to 80 mph in just 9 seconds. It was, regardless of the truth of Earl’s statements, one of the best performing American cars of the time, and certainly one of the most luxurious. The Jet was considered among the most stylish offerings in American motoring of the day, and the $5500 price tag reflected that. A contemporary Cadillac sold for about $4000, while a Lincoln could be had for $3600…. [Read full story]
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