Just in time for summer, a 1932 Franklin Series 16A Convertible Coupe is breezing into the Car and Carriage Museum. This sporty antique will highlight the unique history of the H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company, which operated in Syracuse, NY, from 1902 to 1934. During three decades of operation, Franklin produced 154,000 automobiles for the luxury market, touting its models for their light weight, reliability, and fuel efficiency.
The company is best remembered for its pioneering air-cooled engine-rather than employing a radiator to cool the engine, the Franklin relied on an innovative system of direct air-cooling. At the height of Franklin's production in the 1920s, the burgeoning aircraft industry, which also used air-cooled engines, provided the automaker with a high flying marketing connection. In a 1930 advertisement the company proclaimed that Franklin's "airplane-type engine" was a "great step in the automobile's march towards progression," and also linked its cars with celebrity aviators Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Frank Hawks.
Franklin's popularity inspired other automakers to try their hands at air-cooled cars, but no contemporary company was able to match its success. With several notable innovations to its credit, the Franklin remained the most well- known air-cooled automobile until Volkswagen's famous Beetle. The weight of the Great Depression ultimately put an end to Franklin's air-cooled run, but the company's stylish cars, purchased in their day by an affluent and loyal clientele, are still revered by modern collectors. This rare vehicle on loan from a private collection will be on view at the Car and Carriage Museum through September 16.
Tuesday, 03 July, 2012