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H. H. Franklin Mfg. Co.
Syracuse, NY 1901-1934
H. H. Franklin began building automobiles in 1901 in Syracuse, NY. His cars used an air-cooled 4-cylinder gasoline-powered engine. During 1901 and 1902 his company built 13 vehicles. Full-scale production got underway in 1903 when the Franklin workers produced 219 cars.
Franklin's early advertising extolled the virtues of the wooden frame and the fact that these light cars were not only fast, they were economical.
Franklin felt the only answer to passenger comfort and long service from an automobile was light weight and flexibility. The use of a laminated ash frame, aluminim body panels and full elliptic springs, plus a light-weight air-cooled engine gave the Franklin car the desired lightness and flexibility.
The first Franklin engine in 1903 developed 7 horsepower. The ensuing years saw the horsepower increase to 10 and then 12 hp. Much of the rise in power was due to better construction and addition of an auxiliary exhaust system. By the use of a new concentric valve and dome-head cylinders, horsepower was increased to 16 for the 1908 models.
The unconventional look of air-cooled Franlins began to hurt sales in the early 1920s. The frontal appearance needed updating and in the Series 11 Franklins, in 1925, this change came about with new body styling bj J.F. de Caussee. The de Caussee style completely changed Franklinīs appearance with a new dummy "radiator" shell.
This revolutionary step so appalled company vice-president and chief engineer John Wilkinson, that he immediately resigned. Nevertheless, the new look provided a greater variety of body types and marked a positive turning point in Franklin sales.
Until the Volkswagen was introduced, Franklin was the most successful air-cooled automobile in history. The air-cooled engine oprated at a more efficient temperature, 350 degrees, than water-cooled engines which had to operate at a much lower temperature. Franklin continued to build air-cooled automobiles until its closing in April 1934, a victim of the depression.