Auctions and Brokerage
As the sports car craze swept the US in the early postwar years, several start-up manufacturers offered their vision of the ideal American roadster; Earl “Madman” Muntz’s eponymous Muntz Jet, boasting top speeds well over 100 mph, is among the most notable.
Muntz initially set up his manufacturing facilities in Glendale, California, completing about 29 cars before relocating operations to Evanston, Illinois. The car offered here, numbered 126, is believed to have been the 26th car built, and is among the very last of the vehicles constructed in California. It was one of the first Jets to feature the 154 hp Lincoln V-8, which replaced the earlier Cadillac engine. It is further distinguished as one of just two examples identified in the Muntz Jet Registry as having aluminum fenders. The desirable, California-built jets are identifiable by their slightly shorter 113" wheelbase and low-profile windshield frames.
According to the original sales contract accompanying the car, this Muntz Jet was sold new through the company’s Sunset Boulevard sales office. 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, touted as the “Greatest Show on Ice!” Mr. Trenkler was among several Hollywood luminaries who drove a Muntz, including Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and “The It Girl” Clara Bow.
Mr. Trenkler retained ownership of the Jet for an astonishing four decades before finally selling to the consignors, a Southern California family well respected for their collection of American automobiles. In their care since 1991, the Jet has been a favored car in the collection and, while it has been enjoyed on the road in recent years, it would benefit from further maintenance and tuning before regular use.
Recently refinished in its original shade of Salmon, the Jet has also been re-trimmed in a textured boa-pattern vinyl, which was an original factory option. This seldom-seen Muntz Jet has never been offered for public sale and is accompanied by its first registration slip, archival photos, and a Muntz Jet Registry, as well as an original factory brochure, period articles, and service invoices dating to the original owner. This rare and fascinating Muntz boldly stands as an icon of mid-century Southern California car culture.