From the start of production in 1902 through the marque’s end in 1934, Syracuse, New York-based Franklin offered buyers something truly different. Founded by engineer John Wilkinson, Franklin is most famous for its air-cooled engines—for good reason, as it had the longest and most successful stretch selling solely air-cooled automobiles of any American manufacturer in history. The engineering-driven design of Franklins touched every aspect of these vehicles, including widespread use of aluminum (for both powertrain components and bodywork) and, perhaps surprisingly, the use of wooden chassis frames until the late date of 1928. Franklins were consequently lightweight and nimble, yet still offered a supple and luxurious ride—all while remaining economical to operate.
As this 1923 Series 10 Sedan demonstrates, Franklins were also quite visually distinctive. Being air-cooled, they had no need for radiators; some models were fitted with Renault-style “coal scuttle” hoods, while others, including the Series 10, were equipped with slightly more conventional front ends finished with raked-back ovoid grille openings to let air into the engine compartment.