1985 Corvette Supercharger

1985 Corvette Supercharger

 

Madman Muntz - children desk and chair - playground zoo series Manufacturer

Early career 1922 1953 Muntz was fascinated by electronics from an early age He built his first radio at age 160 8 and built another for his parents car at age 160 14 During the Great Depression at age 160 15 he dropped out of Elgin High School to work in his parents hardware store in Elgin Illinois Car sales An example of a matchbook ad for Muntz car lots in the 1950s In 1934 Muntz opened his first used car lot in Elgin with a 500 line of credit He was only 20 years old and his mother had to sign the car sale papers because legally he was too young to close his own deals During a vacation in California Muntz discovered that used cars sold there for far higher prices so he moved to California at age 160 26 to open a used car lot in Glendale On a hunch he purchased 13 160 brand new right hand drive vehicles to resell These vehicles had been built for customers in Asia but could not be delivered due to World War II One vehicle was a custom made Lincoln built for Chiang Kai shek Local newspapers ran stories about the unusual cars and Muntz sold them all within two weeks still in their original shipping crates Muntz soon opened a second lot in Los Angeles and closed his lot in Elgin Muntz rejected the then common opinion that used car salesmen should project a staid image He realized the possibilities of generating publicity with odd stunts and developed a Madman persona as a result His flamboyant billboards and oddball television and radio commercials soon made him famous In his used auto commercials he marketed one model as the daily special Muntz claimed that if the car did not sell that day he would smash it to pieces on camera with a sledgehammer Another infamous Muntz used car TV pitch was I buy em retail and sell em wholesale it s more fun that way His commercials generated so much publicity that comedians such as Bob Hope Jack Benny and Steve Allen often tried to outdo each other during television appearances by telling Madman Muntz jokes University of Southern California fans would spell out Muntz s name during halftime as a prank Muntz s car lots became tourist attractions due to the widespread publicity from his television commercial appearances A 1946 survey by Panner Motor Tours revealed that they ranked seventh among tourist attractions in Southern California Muntz was willing to take large risks in his attempts to generate publicity During the era of McCarthyism he asked one of his advisers Do you think I d make the front pages if I joined the Communist Party Muntz Jet Main article Muntz Car Company A mint condition 1953 Muntz Jet at a Monterey California classic car auction In 1948 race car designer and Kurtis Kraft founder Frank Kurtis attempted to market a new sports car the two seater Kurtis Kraft Sport Only 36 160 units had been sold by 1950 In 1951 for just 200 000 Kurtis sold the cars manufacturing license to Muntz who quickly rebadged them as the Muntz Jet Initial production of the Jet took place in Glendale where Muntz extended the two seater Kurtis Kraft Sport s body by 13 160 inches 33 160 cm making it a four seater and exchanged the Ford V8 engine for a larger Cadillac V8 Later after making just 28 160 Jets in California Muntz moved production to a new factory in Evanston Illinois extended the body further by 3 160 inches 8 160 cm and replaced the Cadillac 160 V8 with a less expensive Lincoln sidevalve 160 V8 The Jet was featured on the cover of the September 1951 issue of Popular Science along with a Jaguar and an MG It featured its own design with aluminum body panels and a removable fiberglass top Paint schemes were extravagant with names like Mars Red Stratosphere Blue and Lime Mist and interior options included alligator or Spanish leatherette The backseat armrests contained a full cocktail bar The Jet was capable of a top speed of 125 160 miles per hour 201 160 km h and acceleration of 050 160 mph 080 160 km h in 6 160 seconds a significant achievement for a road car at the time The fastest production car in 1953 was the Pegaso Z 102 Supercharged sports car at 155 160 miles per hour 249 160 km h Famous Jet owners included then CEO of CBS Frank Stanton and actors Mickey Rooney and Lash La Rue The labor and materials required to produce the Jet resulted in a higher price for the end product and in 1954 after selling about 400 160 cars and losing about 1 000 on each Muntz closed the company Today Muntz Jets are highly prized collector cars and are recognized as predecessors to the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Thunderbird Muntz TV Muntz started plans to sell television receivers in 1946 and sales began in 1947 Muntz played the madman in his unorthodox television commercials but in fact he was a shrewd businessman and a self taught electrical engineer By trial and error taking apart and studying Philco RCA and DuMont televisions he figured out how to reduce the devices electrical components to their minimum functional number This practice became known as Muntzing In the 1940s and 1950s most brands of television receivers were complicated pieces of equipment commonly containing about 30 160 vacuum tubes as well as rheostats transformers and other heavy components As a result they were usually very expensive the cheapest U S manufactured receiver made before World War II used a 3 inch 8 160 cm screen and cost 125 the equivalent of 1 863 in 2007 the cheapest model with a 12 inch 30 160 cm screen cost 445 equivalent to 6 633 in 2007 By 1954 although television had existed in various forms for more than 40 160 years only 55 160 percent of U S households owned a receiver By contrast eight 160 years later 90 160 percent of U S households had one A 1951 Muntz TV model 17A3A Muntz developed a television chassis that produced an acceptable monochrome picture with 17 160 tubes He often carried a pair of wire clippers and when he thought that one of his employees was over engineering a circuit he would begin snipping components out until the picture or sound stopped working At that point he would tell the engineer Well I guess you have to put that last part back in and walk away Marketed under the name Muntz by his company Muntz TV Inc the simplified units were the first black and white TV receivers to retail in the U S for less than 100 Muntz was also the first retailer to measure his screens from corner to corner rather than by width The receivers sold well and were reliable partly because fewer tubes created less heat The sets worked well in metropolitan areas that were close to television transmission towers where signals were strong They worked poorly with weaker signals as most of the components that Muntz had removed were intended to boost performance in fringe areas This was a calculated decision Muntz preferred to leave the low volume high performance television receiver market to firms such as RCA and Zenith Electronics as his intended customers were primarily urban dwellers with limited funds Additionally many urban apartment buildings had rules prohibiting external television aerials and installation of an aerial even if allowed cost as much as 150 Muntz solved this problem by adding a built in aerial to his receivers In 1952 Muntz TV Inc grossed 49 9 160 million Muntz continued with his Madman persona in many of his advertisements In one TV commercial that normally aired after the Ed Sullivan Show Muntz dressed in red long johns and a Napoleon hat promoted his new 14 inch 36 160 cm televisions by saying I wanna give em away but Mrs Muntz won t let me She s crazy Another TV commercial presented a marching band song with lyrics about Muntz TVs and incorporated animations by Oskar Fischinger His radio commercials which Muntz ran up to 170 160 times a day initially followed a classical music theme built around the spelling of Muntz s name However he soon convinced radio stations to run ads more in line with his persona In one advert Muntz screamed Stop staring at your radio He followed up his radio ads with a direct mail campaign collecting thousands of TV knobs and mailing them to prospective customers with a note saying Call us and we ll show up with the rest of the set Some sources credit Muntz with inventing the abbreviation TV Muntz used skywriting as one of his marketing tactics but after watching one of his ads being created he noted that the letters began to blur and dissipate before the pilot could finish spelling out Muntz Televisions So Muntz came up with the abbreviation TV However TV had earlier been used in the call letters of television stations such as WCBS TV which adopted those call letters in 1946 Muntz also named his daughter Tee Vee although she normally went by Teena and later Tee Audio and video 1954 1985 With the advent of color television by the mid 1950s the market for black and white receivers shrank Muntz s creditors refused to provide further financing in 1954 Muntz admitted his business lost 1 457 000 from April to August 1953 and although he tried to reorganize Muntz TV filed bankruptcy and went out of business in 1959 However Muntz s success continued in the sale of cars and general consumer electronics 4 track cartridge Main article Stereo Pak Attempting to combine his two main product lines cars and stereos Muntz invented the Muntz Stereo Pak 4 track tape cartridge 4 track was the direct predecessor of the Stereo 8 cartridge also known as the 8 track later developed by American inventor Bill Lear The Stereo Pak cartridge was based on the endless loop Fidelipac cartridge which was being used by radio stations designed by inventor George Eash Muntz chose stereo recording as a standard feature because of its wide availability Before Muntz developed the Stereo Pak the only in car units capable of recorded playback were gramophone based players such as the Highway Hi Fi invented by Peter Goldmark These units played special 16 2 3 rpm records or 45 rpm records however they tended to skip whenever the vehicle hit a bump in the road and attempts to alleviate this by increasing the pressure on the arm caused discs to wear out prematurely Muntz designed a stereo tape player called the Autostereo for cars and had it inexpensively manufactured in Japan The Autostereo could play a complete album without changing tracks or turning the tape over did not suffer from skipping or premature wear as the gramophone based players did and its number of knobs and controls were minimized to allow the driver to concentrate on the road The tape player gave customers greater control over their listening experiences because the tapes never ran advertisements or public service announcements unlike radio broadcasts Muntz sold the players and cartridges from his own stores and through franchises in Florida and Texas Muntz audio products were so profitable by 1962 that he cancelled his agreements with tape duplicating companies and founded his own company to manufacture prerecorded Stereo Pak cartridges Most record companies did not manufacture Stereo Pak cartridges themselves however the Muntz Electronics Corporation licensed music from all the major record labels and issued hundreds of different tapes in the mid to late 1960s Muntz exhibited his Autostereo players and Stereo Pak cartridges under the trade name Stereo Pak at the 1967 Consumer Electronics Show Muntz Stereo Pak ads tended to feature attractive young models and suggestive tag lines The Autostereo player which retailed from 129 in 1963 was a popular aftermarket addition to cars among the Beverly Hills rich and famous Frank Sinatra used one in his Buick Riviera Dean Martin in his Corvette and Peter Lawford in his Ghia James Garner Red Skelton and Lawrence Welk also used Autostereo players in their cars Barry Goldwater purchased one for his son and Jerry Lewis recorded his scripts onto Stereo Pak cartridges to learn his lines while driving Muntz attempted to establish a modern trendy image for his players and cartridges His print advertisements often showed the player installed in an appealing sports car and usually incorporated a young attractive model with a suggestive tagline Most of his employees in his California shops were attractive young women dressed in overbright clothing Bill Lear distributed the Stereo Pak in 1963 intending to install units in his Learjet aircraft However he soon decided to re engineer and customize the units to suit his own wishes the result of which became the Stereo 160 8 system The market for Muntz s 4 track system had faded by 1970 due to competition from Stereo 8 which reduced costs by using less magnetic tape and a less complex cartridge mechanism Although the 4 track system had higher fidelity since the tape speed was double the speed of the Stereo 160 8 system and the 4 track had wider heads for better bandwidth the Stereo 160 8 quickly became the dominant format for car stereo systems during the late 1960s Ford Motor Company began featuring Stereo 160 8 players in their 1965 automobiles and it became a standard option by 1966 In a 1979 interview in The Videophile newsletter Muntz revealed the biggest problem for the Stereo Pak business was returned merchandise He explained that when reproducing the work of major artists like The Beatles the Stereo Pak plant had to make hundreds of thousands of cartridges But once a popular album became less popular retailers would return the unsold cartridges expecting credit towards new titles Muntz was unprepared for the returns and said the huge cost of unsold merchandise eventually made his Stereo Pak business unprofitable Home video In late 1970 Muntz closed his Stereo Pak audio business after a fire severely damaged his main offices He then entered the growing home video market During the mid 1970s Muntz thought of taking


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