The 6-inch tailgate lettering...
The 6-inch tailgate lettering is original, highlighted with silver metallic tape. The taillight trim was designed to match the trim on the grille, hood, and dash.
When we first heard about this ’47 Kaiser custom truck, built at Posies Rods and Customs, we figured designer/builder Ken Fenical and his team had taken a sedan and converted it into a pickup. Nope. As owner Gary Maisel explained, this is the sole survivor of three ’47 Kaiser concept vehicles produced by Earl “Madman” Muntz when they were new. It’s been a truck for 65 years.
Muntz was a businessman, innovator, and self-taught engineer—and a famous figure in Southern California in the mid-20th century. He started his career selling cars, and by 1947, owned one of the largest and most successful Kaiser-Frazer dealerships in America. As his alter ego, “Madman” Muntz, he pioneered the technique of advertising cars and electronics by acting crazy.
Muntz approached Kaiser with his idea for an upscale truck built from a car. The company donated three four-door sedans, which were sent to Betts Curtis Motors in Long Beach, California. There the bodies were cut just behind the front seat and rebuilt as cabs, with existing beds grafted on. The resulting hybrids didn’t generate the interest Muntz thought it would. The third one built, with a Pontiac straight-eight, became his service truck. As far as we know, it’s the only one left.
A 350ci ZZ5 crate motor resides in the completely rebuilt engine compartment. An Edelbrock intake and carburetor are hidden beneath a Twin Charger air cleaner from Walter Prosper Designs—air cleaner element bullets are cut-down pulleys. Street & Performance headers are tucked below custom valve covers.
Gary Maisel was looking around for a street rod project when his wife Beth spotted the Muntz Kaiser on the Internet. It was for sale in Atlanta so Gary made the trip from Annapolis, Maryland, to see it in person. When he bought it in 2000, it was just as Muntz had modified it.
That’s when Gary started making plans with Ken at Posies for freshening up the unique pickup. In the spirit of Earl Muntz, the urge to modify and improve was irresistible. Ten years later, a contemporized Muntz Kaiser was finished—different than the original version, but true to the original concept.
Many original Kaiser and Muntz elements were combined with contemporary updates, and tons of effort went into to coordinating design details throughout the truck—a Posies trademark. If you’ve seen any of Posies’ previous projects, the level of work in this one won’t surprise you, but it might still amaze you.
The back of the cab was rebuilt, incorporating radiused corners. The vertical B-pillars were angled forward at the top, consistent with the rest of the body’s aerodynamic look. Custom headlight rings and parking lights were created, and the grille was shortened and simplified. To keep plenty of air in the engine compartment, the front bumper was notched at the bottom and a functional air dam was installed below it.
The small badge on the nose features a caricature of a Napoleon-hatted “Madman” that Muntz used for promotional purposes. The door handles and mirrors were built at Posies; the mirror stems contain integrated turn signals built from ’05 BMW marker lights. The rear pan was reshaped with eyebrow brackets for the license plate and tailpipes. Ford F-100 fenderwells were made to fit the wide rear tires.
An original Kaiser horn button...
An original Kaiser horn button and ring was added to a Colorado Custom steering wheel mounted on an ididit column.
The Maisels’ Kaiser is equipped...
The Maisels’ Kaiser is equipped with an Autostereo, which plays Stereo-Pak four-track tapes—both invented by Earl Muntz, and the first practical way to play non-broadcast music in automobiles. Beth found this N.O.S. Autostereo online. The truck is also equipped with satellite radio, a later development.
The brand new bench seat with...
The brand new bench seat with bucket backs from TEA’s Design was built to Posies’ specs and upholstered in buttercream leather. The push-button door releases are original. The passenger-side vent window was cut from the original windshield in order to retain the vintage decals.
Posies restyled the top of...
Posies restyled the top of the bedrails and built a new fuel tank.
Inside the cab, the paint is contrasted by buttercream leather upholstery and carpeting. Posies kept a few original Kaiser pieces, but restyled the original dash. A custom subdash was constructed using magnetically closing panels to hide the controls, including those for the Vintage Air A/C system. Rich Perez of RP Interiors in Horseheads, New York, handled all of the beautiful upholstery.
A Walter Prosper Designs air cleaner tops the thoroughly polished ZZ5 crate small-block engine. The TH700-R4 transmission was built by Del-Trans specifically for this unusual project. At the rearend, 3.73:1 gears pack a Currie 9-inch.
The Kaiser frame has been strengthened with crossmembers and vertical trusses. Independent suspension from Fatman Fabrications was mounted in front. Posies Super Slide springs were added to the rear and RideTech airbags were installed to drop both ends.
The custom grille is filled by three sizes of Haneline gauges with fabricated lenses. Custom bezels on the speedometer and tach match the headlight rings.
Understated paint would never stick to a phantom truck invented by “Madman” Muntz. The right color, obviously, is Cyber Green, taken from late-model VW Beetles. Everywhere there’s paint on this truck, that’s the color, expertly sprayed by Kasey Novinger at KC’s Collision Custom and Classic in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.
Once the bed was painted,...
Once the bed was painted, it was treated to new stainless steel floor strips.
Although the three ’47 Kaiser Muntz pickups didn’t succeed in convincing Kaiser to enter the pickup truck market, they might’ve had more influence than we know. A few years later, the company built a concept luxury pickup from a ’54 Kaiser Special model. As far as we know, it has been restored and is still around. Kaiser Motors had already turned their attention to Willys Jeeps by the time Ford introduced the Ranchero, followed by the Chevy El Camino. And in 2012, Gary and Beth Maisel and Posies Rods and Customs have produced what might be the most luxurious luxury pickup of them all. Somewhere “Madman” Muntz is smiling.