1908 Franklin - Franklins Were Easy to Identify

2/25/2019
Tad Burness
Herbert H. ("H.H.") Franklin (1866-1956) was the founding father of the Franklin automobile; but credit also should be given to John Wilkinson - who built a four-cylinder, air-cooled horseless carriage that served as a prototype for the first Franklins. Until Wilkinson came along, H.H. Franklin had, since 1893, been manufacturing only small metal products.
        
More than 100 years old now, many of Franklin's early cars are still around, prized by antique-car collectors. That's a real tribute to solid Franklin craftsmanship, since many other brands of cars (numbering in the thousands, in fact) have been long forgotten - and many are completely extinct.
       
 
Air-cooling and overhead valves were two Franklin characteristics - and until the end of the 1920s, a chassis frame made of wood! The wooden frame lent flexibility and light weight; for years the Franklin ad boasted that the light weight of the cars prolonged tire life - by as much as 20,000 miles, which was exceptional in those times of terrible tires (flats and blowouts being an almost weekly occurrence for some motorists).
        
Franklin's greatest era was when the de Causse models were built from 1925 1/2 to 1928. These cars were beautifully styled by Frank de Causse of New York City. They looked huge, in spite of their light weight, with big hoods and an imposing radiator crisscrossed by distinctive vertical and horizontal brightwork strips. They stood out from anything on the road. Years ago, I missed out on a de Causse Franklin convertible coupe at a bargain price, because the seller refused to start the car to show that it would run. Even if it wouldn't, it would still have been a real find, especially today.
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