This Franklin is one of the best examples of an original unrestored race car from the early era of racing in the United States.
When engineer John Wilkinson and former newspaper publisher Herbert H. Franklin joined forces in 1901, the result was the most long-lived and successful air-cooled automobile in America. This is one of the best examples of a completely original racecar of the era. In 1911, this car placed second in the 540 mile Cactus Derby Desert Races from Los Angeles to Phoenix driven by Mr. Ralph Hamlin. The car was purchased by Mr. H. E. Bonebrake in 1913 and delivered by train to his car dealership/hardware store in El Reno, OK. It was raced by Mr. Bonebrake for several years. It has remained in Oklahoma ever since.
The car has an air-cooled 302 cubic-inch engine developing 38 horsepower. It has been featured in Automobile Quarterly and certified by the AACA as a Competition Race Vehicle and holds plaque #181.
Built in Syracuse, New York, from 1902 until 1934, the Franklin was the most popular air-cooled automobile in the United States.
Torpedo Phaeton Chassis Num: 14003 D Engine Num: 15166
Sold for $117,000 at 2010 Bonhams. The Franklin was the most popular air-cooled automobile built in the United States. It was built in Syracuse, New York by the H.H. Franklin Company from 1902 until 1934.
This body style, the torpedo phaeton, was one of the most popular and attractive offered in 1911. It was designed to accommodate four passengers. The car, the only known one of its type, has been properly restored to its original color scheme.
The Type D featured a six-cylinder motor mounted on a 123-inch wheelbase chassis. That motor developed 38 horsepower. This was the first year for combination gas and electric lights.
The H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company built the most successful American direct air-cooled cars from 1902 to 1934. John Wilkinson was the engineer who built the first Franklin car and whose design principles combining high quality with light weight gave Franklin their distinct reputation for dependability and long life. All Franklins utilized air-cooled engines and double elliptical springs on all four wheels. Their legacy has been one of successful innovations and, of course, the unusual vehicles that survived.
The Franklin Manufacturing Company initiated a strong advertising campaign that promoted their high quality and lightweight vehicles. Their engineering was progressive and introduced many new features. Wilkinson used a wooden frame constructed of three-ply laminated ash. The benefits were two-fold; decreasing the weight of the vehicle and providing a better material to absorb shocks.
In 1924, Wilkinson left the company. The designs of the vehicle dramatically changed over the next few years, mainly in response to criticism from dealers. The most visual of these design changes was the radiators which became more conventional in design.
When Wilkinson left the company he was replaced by Frank DeCausse, a well known designer who had made a name for himself through work he had done at Rolls-Royce and Locomobilie. DeCausse refined the Franklins, ever increasing their appeal. Unfortunately, DeCausse died around 1928 leaving the Franklin Company without a lead designer.
In 1928 the Franklin Company hired Ray Dietrich as a replacement for DeCausse. In only a year, Dietrich had created some of the most exquisite designs the Franklin Company had ever produced. The designs attracted a new breed of buyers but it was the Great Depression that was responsible for the demise of the brand. By Daniel Vaughan | Jul 2011