Madman Muntz

From Academic Kids

Earl "Madman" Muntz (19171987) was a legendary merchandiser of used cars and consumer electronics in the 1940s and 50s, mostly in California. He later founded the Muntz Car Company which made the Muntz Jet, a sports car with jet-like contours.

Muntz was born in Elgin, Illinois.

Although Muntz pretended to be a madman, he was actually a shrewd businessman and built up a large fortune selling everything from autos to radios. He had a sharp eye for taking the cost out of the products he marketed so relentlessly, and the practice of reducing any device to the minimum number of components needed to function became known as "muntzing".

Engineers still tell stories about him. He was known to carry wire clippers in his pocket, for instance, and if he saw that one of his engineers had put a component he considered superfluous into any of his products, he would just snip it out. His attempts to combine two of his main product lines, cars and stereos, helped create the 8-track tape, which became the standard for pre-recorded mobile audio for two decades.

His flamboyant television commercials for his various businesses made him famous; in one he promised to destroy a car on television if it was not sold the same day of his commercial.

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