Potential Bargain: 1951 Muntz Jet

If you were to try to pick a car that was worthy of an extensive restoration and would still be valuable enough to not be in over your head on restoration costs, here’s a 1951 Muntz Jet to consider. This uber-rare and valuable car can be found on Craigslist, or here on the CL archive, in beautiful, warm, dry North Scottsdale, Arizona. The asking price is $38,500, which when looking at the potential restored value seems quite reasonable. Jesse showed us this same car a couple of years ago.

You already know that $50,000 isn’t even going to come close to restoring this car to its former glory. Would $75,000 do it? If so, you stand to have a very nice investment car that you can drive and enjoy and could still most likely sell it for a profit. Hagerty lists a #3 good condition car as being worth $105,000 and a #2 excellent car as being worth $146,000. See what I mean? Thankfully this car looks like it’s in solid condition. Cars like these are rarely beaten into the ground as they were fairly expensive when new at around $5,500, about $52,000 in 2018 dollars. Muntz is reported to have lost around $1,000 on every car that was sold.

The history of these cars is not unlike a Hollywood movie. Frank Kurtis, an Indy race car builder, wanted to make a rival to Jaguar’s offering and for a couple of years he did just that. In 1950 he sold out to Earl “Madman” Muntz, a used car salesman and TV company owner. The Muntz Jet was made from 1951 to 1954 with under 400 of them being made in total. They are very rare and valuable today, it wouldn’t hurt to keep your eye on this one. Did I mention that only around 50 of them survive today?

This interior isn’t what would have come from the factory but almost anything can be replicated if a person has the will and a giant checkbook. Check out the turned gauge cluster dashboard! Fantastic. Of course, being in Arizona a lot of the soft parts have deteriorated over the decades and the seller says that it “required portions of the floor to be professionally replaced.” The early California-built cars had an aluminum body and this one appears to be showing surface rust so it must be a later, steel-body Illinois-built car.

According to the seller, this car was owned by the original family since it was purchased in 1957. That family owned it until four years ago and at some point that “owner installed a 57 Lincoln 368 C.I. engine in 1957 with the original G.M. Hydra Matic”. The early cars came with Cadillac engines and later Illinois-built cars had Lincoln engines – those were also steel-body cars. I believe that since they were essentially a custom-built car a buyer could choose either engine. I’m not quite sure of the timeline on this one but it’s the 143rd car built. I also don’t know why this car is for sale again a couple of years later, maybe it was too much project for the buyer? Do you have what it takes to restore this 1951 Muntz Jet?


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  1. RayT Member

    What it would take to restore this, Scotty, is lots o’ cubic money. Which, sadly, I don’t have.

    Wish I did, though. I can remember seeing a few of the in Southern California back in the mid-50s, and thought they were exceptionally cool. The connection to Frank Kurtis doesn’t hurt, either….

    The Lincoln engine would have to go. This isn’t a good restomod candidate in my opinion, so a proper Cad or Lincoln “flattie” (337) engine would have to be found. The real problems would come from finding/restoring trim and interior parts; if I remember correctly, no two Jets were 100% alike, so finding the “right” stuff could be a chore.

    Cars like this HAVE to be restored. There just weren’t enough built — and aren’t enough left — to mess with. And to me, “patina” on cars like this simply makes them look old and unloved.

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    I always dug these since I was a vatito in East L.A. back in the 1950s.

    I’m with RayT, this is something worthy of a correct, total restoration, but I’d happily go with the Lincoln under the hood. Shame Bob Estes isn’t around (RIP, old friend) or Bill Stroppe, sadly, as they’d have a few tips on making these ol’ engines go.

    Thanks, Scotty, for sharing this wonderful machine.

  3. Rodney

    Some cars are no-brainers as investments. This is one. If you have the desire, the space and the checkbook, jump in. Years later, your grandchildren will talk about how smart you were back then. Go ahead, be that person…..

  4. Rodney

    Some cars are no-brainers as investments. This is one. If you have the desire, the space and the checkbook, jump in. Years from now, your grandchildren will sit around and talk about how smart you were back then. Go ahead, be that guy…..

    • Rodney

      ….clearly not a keyboard guy.

  5. Nrg8

    The best part of that car is the horn button

    • The Walrus

      Yup… jack up the radiator cap and park something else underneath it.

  6. Pa Tina

    And he invented the 4-track tape cartridge

  7. Coventrycat

    A rival to Jaguar? Talk about delusional.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Look at the first Corvettes, Crosley Hot-Shot, Gaylord and Kaiser-Darrin to see the kind of thinking of what an American sports car should be that was going on at that time and it might explain the comparison.

    • JACKinNWPA Jack in NW PA Member

      Not talking about a Muntz the Jag reference was about a Kurtis…

      • RayT Member

        Gotta give you an “upvote” just for that photo!

        A Kurtis 500S is my ultimate dream car, and has been ever since I was about six years old and was taken for a ride in one that a friend of my father owned. Much later, I enjoyed seeing Bill Stroppe — a very nice guy — running a 500S (the only one I ever saw with a “flattie” under the hood) in vintage races.

        Like practically every other car I’d love to have, these are well above my means….

  8. Mike

    A lot of fabrication, time, patience, and of course the green cabbage, lots of that.

  9. grant

    Seller hadn’t changed his story, or his price since Jesse’s last write up. Second owner till 4 years ago. Something smells funny.

  10. Steve M

    I think there is a good bit of meat on the bone here, if I was not in the middle of a P car restoration and buying a new home I might consider this. My biggest fear is the brightwork, the bumper and trim work alone will be over 15K……wish I knew someone in the plating industry.

  11. Miguel

    I wonder if Leno already has one of these.

    His shop might be the only one that could handle getting this back to it’s original glory.

    • Dave Mc

      If Jay doesn’t, he should step up.
      My Gramps had a Muntz… TV.
      Mel Jass.talked him into it.
      “Hes gotta good job”

  12. Tom Justice

    In one of the early Chasing Classic Cars it was one of Wayne Carini’s most wanted cars and he was beaming in the episode where he tracked one down and bought it. Worth saving for sure and as Scotty says, this might be the rare example of a car you could spend a lot of money on restoring and not get yourself upside down.

    • theGasHole

      Funny that episode was just on rerun yesterday

  13. glen

    To me. and maybe only me. this car has a style similar to the early corvettes, if you remove the skirts and flatter the trunk lid. No matter what, it’s interesting.

  14. Rex Kahrs Member

    Restoring this car would take Muntz.

    • Tom Justice

      Many, many Muntz!

      • ninja3000

        Maybe a few yearz!

  15. Madmatt

    I have loved these for some reason?,since I was young.
    This car looks like a great start,and seems pretty complete.
    Although it may cost a small fortune to have chrome done,
    If you can manage most of the rest yourself,you wouldn’t
    have too much in it.It would be more challenging/expensive to find correct
    parts I would think…!Really cool seeing one of these on here!

  16. Joe Haska

    I know this car and the owner. I am not an expert on these cars, but I liked it allot, though it is way out of my league. As for the owner, I just had been introduced to him and he let me store my 53 P/U, on his property, and wouldn’t take anything, for the favor. He is a corporate pilot, and very knowledgable car guy and I wouldn’t have any concerns about dealing with him.

    • Gavin Tittle

      sounds like a decent man, did he offer any explanation as to why it was stored outside? I cant really think of anything that would take a higher priority for the family garage.

  17. Joe Haska

    When I saw it was in his garage , where did you get the idea it was stored outside.

    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      Joe, it says in the CL ad that it was stored outside for several years.

  18. John b

    About 5 years ago, there was one getting restored at a shop in the amish town of Bird-in-hand, no joke that’s the towns name.

    • Pa Tina

      How far from Intercourse? Or King Of Prussia? or for that matter Bala Cynwyd?


    Mad Man Muntz is quite a story. My friends grandpa had a Muntz Jet. He owned a trucking company (Chicago) and hauled Muntz’s TV’s. Got a couple of rides in the car.His had a Caddy engine and when as an 8 year old I showed interest he told me all about the car.

  20. Ron

    I know the guy that owns this car and it is not stored outside and is exactly as described and a very good project for someone who wants a rare car. If I was a little younger I would take it on.

  21. Dustin

    A MUNTZ!!!!!!!!!

    Frank Kurtis also built the three-wheeled Californian.

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