The H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company made motor cars between 1902 and 1934 in Syracuse, New York. Herbert H. Franklin, the founder, started out in the metal die-casting business - in fact, he invented the term 'die cast' - before entering the automobile business with engineering guru John Wilkinson. All Franklin cars were air-cooled, which was much simpler and more reliable than using water. By 1904, models included a touring car for four passengers as well as this two-seat Light Car. Franklin's were famed for their light weight and simple but progressive engineering. This car completed the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run in 1987.
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. Aluminum bodies also aided in his quest for reduced weight.
His belief was function over form, meaning that he favored a cars abilities rather than its beauty. This resulted in his cars having their own unique appearance. Since the cars required no radiator due to air-cooled methods, their front end was bound to look different that most other vehicles on the roadways. A 'barrel front' hood was adopted in 1904. By 1911 the cars were given a more modern appeal with flush-sided bodies and Renault-style 'coal scuttle' hood. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2008