Ultra-Rare 1953 Muntz Jet Barn Find

ultra-rare-1953-muntz-jet-barn-find

There isn’t anything like the rush of discovering an ultra-rare sports car hidden in a barn. I can only imagine how it felt to discover this 1953 Muntz Jet. These sports cars are extremely rare and sought after. Earl Muntz, the creator of this unique car, only built about 200 of these and it’s believed that only 50 or so remain. This one is in rough, but complete, shape and will need a full restoration. Thankfully, the seller has all the hard to find bits plus a parts car. This ultra-rare duo can be found here on eBay.

ultra-rare-1953-muntz-jet-side-view

Mr. Muntz found his success selling cars in California and after a falling out with Kaiser, he decided to build his own car. He had purchased a car from Frank Kurtis and liked it so much that he decided to buy the rights to it. The first few Muntz cars were simply Kurtis Krafts, but in ’53 with the help of Mr. Kurtis, the first true Muntz rolled off the production line. While they didn’t build many of these, they were very popular, especially among the Hollywood crowd.

ultra-rare-1953-muntz-jet-interior

While Mr. Muntz was a car sales man, his real love was inventing and innovating. All Jets came with padded dashes and seat belts, as well as a variety of unique options. Several cars came with a center council mounted radio, ice box, and even a liquor cabinet arm rest. Most Jets came with a Lincoln sourced drivetrain, but a few early cars came with a Cadillac engine and transmission. This one is one of the few to have the Cadillac V8, while the parts car came with the Lincoln engine.

ultra-rare-1953-muntz-jet-parts-car

The parts car has already been disassembled and is very rusty. Restoring it would be a massive undertaking, but given how rare these are, it may actually be worth the work and expense. The seller claims these were found in a barn, but it looks like they were parked outside. The building they are currently in is full of classic cars, some of which are also rare. I’d love to go see what all is parked in here and what the story is behind this warehouse.

ultra-rare-1953-muntz-jet-parts

Restoring just one Muntz is going to be a challenge, as parts are very difficult to find. It would be sad to see the parts car crushed or left to decay further, but it might be too far gone to be a reasonable project. With any luck someone will be able to complete both cars, so these amazing pieces of American automotive history can still be enjoyed. Can you name any of the other cars in this warehouse?

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Comments

  1. Matt

    IIRC, there are two of these in the vault of the Petersen Auto Museum awaiting restoration.

  2. paul

    I suppose in their day they may have been cool, but these never did much for me.

    • Mike

      When I was young there was a used car lot in Mpls. where most every car was cheap. The guy two Muntz Road Jets, He wanted about $350 for them. We thought they were junk. Oh well. I just happened to think of it today and came here to see what they going for;

  3. jim

    the seller has 2 other listing up on ebay now, both fords. i see vw ,cadillac ,corvette, lincoln, studebaker in the pictures on ebay. are they going to sell everything in the warehouse? great find.

  4. scot

    ~ neat continuation of Frank Kurtis’s genius, by Madman Earl Muntz. i have always wanted to drive one.

  5. Peter

    Cool car with great potential but buyer beware…the seller has a “zero” feedback score. Any buyers should conduct “due diligence” on the seller to make sure he and the cars are legit!

  6. Robert J

    Despite the fact that these “Corner like a barge and brake like an aircraft carrier” I have always liked them. What I do not understand though is a seller who thinks he can pass them along to you for the same price as a fair condition running example of a Muntz Jet. There have been two or three of them for sale on EBay in the past year. If you are getting closed to $70K, you are buying a running example. These won’t sell at this price would be my bet.

    Here is a link estimating prices. There are others online by the way;

    http://www.sportscarmarket.com/car-reviews/classic-and-collector-cars/american/2037-1953-muntz-jet

    • paul

      I like that, corner like a barge & brake like an aircraft carrier, very good one.

    • Dale

      The pink/black roof ex-Gloria DeHaven Muntz Jet sold at Mecum in Monterey in 2012 for $75,000. Other than some minor issues (driver’s window didn’t go all the way up, some stains on the white leather from the shipper putting tires on the seats) that car needed nothing. The body and chrome were close to perfect. It ran beautifully and drove as nicely as any car from that era could be expected to. For anything more than $25,000 you would be completely upside down if you bought this with any hope of restoring and re-selling and not losing your shirt. Even at $25,000 you would be lucky to turn a profit. I’m not convinced you could do a proper restoration for under $50k. Is there any value at all in the 2nd car? You need to say a few “hail marys” before starting on that one. Yikes!

      • Michael

        You must need a manual to use a screwdriver!
        TRUE, the car needs everything done but seems little is missing, rechroming is expensive but the mechanicals are all easily available so it’s a big fun project for someone to redo, one bit at a time, just the same as every restoration needs!
        If you’re SO stupid or lazy you can’t do it yourself, you shouldn’t have it!

        Like 1
      • Michael Rogers

        This is a typical statement that is about an INVESTMENT! Some of us are HOBBIESTS that like to play with old cars, It’s nice to not put 1000 hours in a car and sell it for $10,000 but for those of us in the latter category we WANT a car and are willing to get it and refurb it for OURSELVES. maybe some decades later, we’ll pass it on and probably make a profit then but the reason we want the car is WE WANT IT!

    • Michael Rogers

      Anything CAN be made fast , corner well and stop! consider Fore Galaxies that road raced against the Jags, Minis, Anglia’s successfully OR watch The vintage racers and note how well those obsolete cars do!

  7. Tricky Dickie Member

    Madman Earl Muntz also had a chain of TV stores in LA. He was first on the TV market with , at that time, huge TV screens, 36 inchers, but just in black and white, no color TV yet.

  8. Dale

    This car is a Kurtis Sport with a back seat. The Kurtis Sport is a 2-seater with a convertible top. The Muntz Jet is 18 inches longer and a 4-seater with a Carson removable hardtop. There are differences in materials used as well. The Kurtis Sport had a lot more aluminum. The Muntz is mostly, if not all, steel and is a heavier car but with the power of the Cadillac engine it feels sportier. The Kurtis Sport has a flathead Ford engine and while smooth and quiet, it doesn’t feel as light as it is. Neither have great brakes but both are adequate and no, neither car corners very well. Both cruise nicely down the road at 60 mph though.
    Earl Madman Muntz did not buy Kurtis Kraft from Frank Kurtis, he bought the Kurtis Sport project after Frank Kurtis built 17 cars. Kurtis Kraft continued on to build Indy cars and dominated Indianapolis for a number of years in the early 50s. Frank Kurtis then went back to offering street cars…sort of. He sold bare Indy chassis and buyers would put their choice of body on the car. The 500S, 500KK and 500S/X are examples of these cars.

  9. junkman Member

    Thanks Dale,
    Great info.
    Jeff

  10. AMCFAN

    I attended an auction about 4 years ago in the state of Indiana. Wierd auction. The estate consisted of about 200 cars on a wooded hillside. The vehicles ranged from the Teens to the early 1950’s.The sale was being conducted across the the road under a tent. The road was a busy two lane highway. The lots were numbered. Some vehicles were in buildings loaded with parts with the building falling in. You would have had to walk the property and make a list of the items you wanted to bid on. Get down the hill and across the highway and not got hit from traffic then back to the tent. The sale was very mismanaged. One girl giving out numbers and 70 people (or more) stuck in line when the auction started. The auctioneer did not figure most everyone would be traveling out of state. Indiana time was an hour behind. You got there early but infact an hour off! Through the chaos there was an original but very rough Muntz black/white interior. Cadillac engine I believe. The car looked worse then this parts car here. Looks to have spent 3/4 of its life sitting in one spot. Outside on the ground. Sold for $1100. Wasn’t there when it was loaded but I am sure it ended up in two or more pieces. Interesting was two Ford retractables a 57 and 58 sold for a whopping $275. for the pair! Good times!

  11. Dale

    @ Michael…

    I do NOT need a manual to use a screwdriver, thanks for asking. I actually work on cars like this on a fairly regular basis. I am acutely aware of how this could be a DIY project. I also get to analyze restorations on a consistent basis and am constantly amazed at what some consider to be an acceptable restoration. I spend countless hours correcting “restored” cars. You, no doubt are among the ham-fisted “experts” who think this is all so easy and figure a few weekends in the barn with a 5-gallon bucket of body filler and some spray bombs of Rustoleum will put this right. That might be acceptable for your grandmother’s ’74 4-door Malibu. It is not acceptable to treat this car in that manner. While its rarity pales in comparison to it’s predecessor, the Kurtis Sport, being one of 400 made still puts it in some rare company. It DOES matter how this car gets treated. Perhaps you are the seller?

  12. Dolphin Member

    Dale is definitely right. The writeup in SCM (July 2007, pg. 64) by Bill Warner is where the great quote “Cruises well in a straight line but corners like a barge and stops as quickly as a Forrestal-class aircraft carier” came from. And Warner had owned a Muntz Jet for 7 years when he wrote that, so he should know.

    The pink car owned by actress Gloria deHaven that Dale mentioned sold at auction for $75K in 2012, as Dale said. This same car had previously sold at auction in 2007 for $69K. That’s some appreciation, but in the current collector car market, it’s definitely not much, and over the 5-year interval, would not cover storage, insurance, transportation, and auction fees.

    True, the engines were standard Lincoln flatheads or Caddy OHV V8s and can be rebuilt, but Dale is right—-this eBay car needs everything, and there’s so much work in it that it makes absolutely no sense to pay $69,500 in this eBay auction for a car that needs everything when restored cars with history that includes famous owners can be had for only $5K more.

    Surely you are not saying that this auction for a Jet with no known history that needs everything represents a good deal, when for $5K more someone could have bought the pink restored Gloria deHaven car, are you Michael?

  13. Ed Malinski

    Bill Warner owns a Jet that I restored about 25 years ago. Most of what’s written here is relatively accurate, with a few exceptions. I’ve owned six Muntz Jets, and I’m still driving one around town. My cousin and I drove our Jets from California to Indianapolis and back for a gathering, a few years ago. Fun stuff …

    Like 1

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