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 lightweight 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 car's 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 than 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.
Model G The Franklin Model G was produced from 1906 through 1913. The 5-passenger Tourer had a wheelbase that measured 88 inches and a price tag of $1800. The wheelbase increased to 90-inches the following year, though the four-cylinder 12-horsepower engine remained the same. A 2-passenger runabout joined the Model G lineup, and it was priced at $1800 while the Tourer increased in price by $50.
For 1908, the Model G engine received a boost in power, now rated at 16 horsepower. The body style selection continued to grow with the addition of a Brougham and a Landaulet. Pricing ranged from $1750 to $2500. The runabout was dropped for 1909 and replaced with a Cape Top Tourer with seating for four. The wheelbase grew slightly, to 91.5-inches. The engine now produced 18 horsepower.
For 1910, the Model G was available as a tourer or a 2- or 4-passenger runabout. Pricing ranged from $1750-$1800 and continued to be the company's least expensive model. Many of the company's other vehicles were priced from $2800 - $5000, making the Model G a relative bargain.
The wheelbase of the Model G grew in 1911, now reaching 100-inches for the Tourer. The Torpedo Phaeton, the only other body style available that year on the Model G, measured 108-inches. This would change the following year, as the Model G was again available in two different sizes, a 100-inch runabout or a larger 103-inch tourer. The Tourer had a 25 horsepower engine while the runabout had the 18-horsepower version.
The final year of production of the Franklin Model G was in 1913. Engine size, price, and dimensions were the same as in 1912. By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2010