The Air Cooled 1914 Franklin Series 6 Tourer

The Franklin automobile was produced by Herbert Henry Franklin. All it took was a ride in an air cooled automobile designed by John Wilkinson, a Cornell University educated engineer and bicycle racer, and Franklin decided to have his company build the car.

franklin series 6

1914 Franklin Series 6

Franklin’s manufacturer, the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company, began in business in 1893. In 1901 Franklin and Wilkinson joined together to build the Franklin automobile. The company that would produce and sell this car was the Franklin Automobile Company. Franklin put his name on the business, operated as CEO and primary shareholder and  issued John Wilkinson stock and named him as chief engineer.

The car that Franklin had his Syracuse, New York company produce, beginning in 1902,  eventually became the largest employer in Syracuse. During it’s peak, the H.H. Franklin manufacturing Company employed about 3,200 people.  It’s interesting to note that the first Franklin automobile built in 1902 was the first four cylinder car produced in the U.S. A total of thirteen cars were sold in 1902. Today, the first Franklin that was built resides at the Smithsonian.

franklin air cooled engine

The Franklin air-cooled engine

The Concept of the Air Cooled Light Weight Franklin

John Wilkinson, the designer of the Franklin, was an engineer by profession and designed his vehicle to be light weight using wood and aluminum. The focus of the design was  functional as opposed to ornamental.

Everything with this automobile was designed around Wilkinson’s air cooled engine. At that time air cooled engines were considered by many to be simpler and more reliable than water cooled engines. No radiators, water pumps and hoses were required. This was also the time before anti-freeze was developed so the air cooled design fared much better at freezing temperatures.

The frame employed wood consisting of three ply laminated ash. The suspension used full-elliptic leaf springs. The Franklin was light and better able to absorb shocks. This provided a relatively smooth ride over the primitive roads of the era. The company advertised light weight and high power.

franklin 6

Headlamps on the 1914 Franklin 6

Just two short years after the first Franklin was introduced, the company came out with a four passenger touring car in 1904. The engine on the 1904 model put out 10 horsepower and weighed about 1,100 lbs. New car price was $1,300. As a historical comparison, Buick came out with their first two cylinder production car in 1904 at a cost of about $950. In 1904 Ford was selling their Model A for about $750.

Franklin Engines

The Franklin was first built with a four cylinder inline engine and later models were built with both four and six cylinder versions. All were air cooled and all were inline.

Franklin also was one of the few American automakers that ventured into the world of V-12′s. Although the company considered a straight eight at one time the feeling was that cooling would present a problem. Franklin then decided to pursue a V-12. The twelve cylinder engine wasn’t something entirely new since there were many car models with 12 cylinder power plants during the late teens.

The Franklin V-12 was designed by aircraft engine designer F. Glen Shoemaker. Franklin’s V-12 had finned, cast-iron cylinders mounted on an aluminum crankcase, and topped with aluminum cylinder heads. A fan mounted at the nose of the crankshaft directed cooling air to the cylinders through steel shrouding. The engine was essentially an aircraft engine on an automobile. The run of these Franklin V-12′s was short and lasted from 1932 until the company shut down in 1934.

In 1937, the Doman-Marks Engine Company purchased the rights to Franklin. The company was renamed Aircooled Motors Corp. Franklin engines went on to power many types of aircraft for decades including the first civilian helicopter. For a full timeline of the H.H. Franklin Company history, the Aircooled Engines Corp as well as the various  Franklin aircraft engines during the later years see website…

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Two excellent sources regarding the Franklin automobiles include…The Franklin Automobile Company: The History of the Innovative Firm, Its Founders, the Vehicles It Produced (1902-1934), and the People Who Built Them (Historic Motor Car Company Series) by Sinclair Powell and also by the same author…The Franklin Automobile Company: The History of an Innovative Firm.

1914 franklin

View of the rear of the 1914 Franklin Series Six Touring car

1914 Franklin Specifications

The 1914 Franklin had an inline six cylinder overhead valve air cooled engine delivering 30 horsepower.

Brakes were two wheel mechanical drum.

Suspension both front and rear were full-elliptic leaf springs with a hollow beam front axle and a live rear axle.

The car’s wheelbase was 120.0 inches.and the shipping weight was 2,700 lbs.

As mentioned above, the cars were built to be light and the Franklin had an ash frame with an aluminum body.

The Franklin Collector Car

A bit over 1,100 1914 Franklin’s were produced. It’s unsure how many have survived as of today however it’s thought that the number are few. The H.H Franklin Automobile Company began in business in 1902 in Syracuse, NY and closed it’s doors in 1934 in the same city.

The last 1914 Franklin Six that was offered at auction several years ago had an estimated price of between $60,000 and $80,000. As of this writing we also see a later year 1933 Franklin Olympic Sedan with an asking price of $26,500. It’s also possible to come across drivable Franklin project cars requiring restoration with asking prices under $10,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk / Designed on a Tight Budget

Studebaker GT Hawk production lasted for three years, 1961 through 1963 although for 1961 officially the car was a “Hawk“.  Studebaker came out with their Gran Turismo Hawk officially during the fall of 1962. This may sound a bit confusing and it is.

1962 studebaker gt hawk

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk

Around this time Studebaker, the legendary company that began building horse drawn wagons in the 1850′s, was experiencing a severe cash shortage. Rather than spending a fortune on an entirely new design, the Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk was designed on a shoestring budget and was the automakers final model of the Hawk.

The automobile featured in this article is a 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk. Make no mistake about it, this is a rare classic car with only 8,388 built for the 1962 model year.

The Studebaker GT Hawk Design

The first thing to say about the Studebaker GT Hawk was that it’s goal was to help keep the automaker in business. Although Studebaker needed an impressive design, the budget was tight.

studebaker gt hawk

Clean lines on the 62 Studebaker GT Hawk

The Gran Turismo Hawk’s designer was Brooks Stevens. Stevens was known as a designer of more than just automobiles. His design work was seen on everything from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to home furnishings to appliances. Also among Brook Steven’s designs was the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile vehicle.

The Studebaker GT Hawk had some design inspiration from Europe. It’s grille was modeled after the Mercedes-Benz and the overall design had a clean look. The GT Turismo looked very different from the old Hawks. There was also influence from Ford’s Thunderbird seen in the roof line of the new GT Hawk. Bucket seats and a console were added to reflect the GT heritage. The side grills were painted body color for American produced cars and were chrome plated on cars produced in Canada.

1962 studebaker hawk

Mercedes style grille

Regarding the Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, Stevens design budget was quite small. Studebaker simply lacked an appropriate design capital. Even with a next to nothing budget, Stevens made significant changes. The 50′s tail fins and side body trim were gone. The rear window was flat and recessed and a more modern instrument panel was designed. The new instrument panel was so impressive that it’s overall look was later picked up by Chrysler.the automaker

The End of America’s Oldest Automaker

The Studebaker story has always been interesting. A modern automaker that had it’s roots back with the Studebaker Brothers wagon manufacturing business in Indiana prior to the Civil War. The company earned large sums of money selling wagons to the Union Army as well as to pioneers heading west. Studebaker wagons were known for their quality. There’s also the story of a Texas rancher, Charles Goodnight, modifying a surplus Civil War Studebaker wagon into the first “chuckwagon” What is significant is that after all of this Studebaker made a successful transition to the horseless carriage business.

What caused the eventual demise of Studebaker can be argued. One could point to the fierce competition and deep pockets of the Big Three. Others might say that the automaker lagged in engineering. Others might say that management made plenty of wrong decisions. The real cause could very well be a combination of all the above. There is no question however that independent automakers were at a financial disadvantage compared to Detroit’s Big Three.

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studebaker gt hawk interior photo

Dashboard view on the 62 Studebaker GT Hawk

1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk Specifications

The 62 GT Hawk gave buyers a choice of either a two or four barrel carburetor version of Studebaker’s 289 cubic inch V-8 engine. Horsepower was 210 on the two barrel version and 225 on the four.

Transmission choices were a three speed manual, four speed manual and a Flight-O-Matic automatic.

Brakes were four wheel drum.

The GT Hawk’s wheelbase was 120.5 inches, an overall length of 204.0 inches, a width of 71.0 inches and a height of 54.6 inches. Curb weight was 3,430 lbs.

The 1962 Studebaker GT Gawk had a new car price of about $3,100.

62 studebaker gran turismo

Rear body view of the 62 GT Hawk

Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk as a Collector Car

As mentioned above, only a bit over 8,000 of the 1962 GT Hawks were produced. When Studebaker closed its South Bend, Indiana plant in December 1963, the GT Hawk was among the models discontinued. As a collector car the Studebaker GT Hawk is both popular and relatively inexpensive for such a milestone car. The milestone car designation was awarded by the Milestone Car Society.

This sporty coupe which was sold between 1962 and 1964 had it’s real beginnings with the 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk and represents the stylish end of the Hawk line.

As of this writing, show quality top to bottom restored Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawks can be seen with asking prices generally in the mid to high $20,000 range.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)


A Restored 1971 Datsun 240Z

It was the Datsun Z cars that brought people into it’s dealer showrooms in droves. This was the automobile that added pep to Datsun’s line of cars. The Datsun 240 Z had a new car price of about $3,500 and for that money you had a well built performance automobile. While Datsun liked to call their car a personal GT model, the 240 Z was a sports car and a really good one. The car featured in our article is a 1971 Datsun 240 Z. The 240 Z was built for four model years, 1970 through 1973.

1971 datsun 240 z

1971 Datsun 240 Z

Datsun and Nissan

Datsun is a brand owned by the Nissan Motor Company. While Datsun models began being produced in 1931, from 1958 to 1986, only the models exported by Nissan were named Datsun. In a way the names were interchangeable. In the U.S. during this time they were Datsuns.

What Made the Datsun 240 Z  A Big Winner

In short, the answer to this is quality plus a relatively low price. The people who purchased Datsun 240 Z’s generally were people who could not afford a Porsche or a Jaguar. The Datsun 240Z’s delivered competent engineering and styling and better than average performance. Add to that a low price of about $3,500 and you had a winning combination.

restored 240 Z

Sharp styling of the 240 Z

The original body shell of the 240 Z continued on with the 260 Z and 280 Z models although with larger displacement engines. Many will say that the handling of the 240 Z’s was much better than with the later two models that had heavy and clumsy bumpers due to new safety regulations which added weight to the car. Because of this power steering was almost mandatory.

Auto writers of the period gave thumbs up to the new Datsun 240 Z and this never hurts sales. The Datsun 240 Z was Japan’s answer to the British Jaguar.

Nissan Buys Old 1970′s Z Models

Nissan did a very unique thing. In 1996 they went out and bought as many straight and clean Datsun 240 Z models they could round up. Four California restorers did ground up restorations on the cars. Each 240Z  was examined, stripped and reconditioned, then dipped and painted in colors as close to original hues as possible. Engines were sent to Texas, and transmissions to North Carolina for rebuilding. Finally the cars were sent on a 200 mile test drive to make certain they ran like new. Odometers of the cars, by law, were not reset.

There were some 200 cars involved in this project and Nissan chose ten dealerships that were called “Z Stores” that would retail the automobiles. The cars were restored to such an original new condition that Nissan gave buyers a 12 month / 12,000 mile warranty which was the same as the one given to the car when originally new. The first refurbished 240 Z came out on May 3rd, 1996.

1971 Datsun 240 Z Specifications

The 1971 Datsun 240 Z came out with a solidly built 146 cubic inch overhead cam in-line six engine. The Zero to 60 MPH time was rated at eight seconds flat. The engine put out 151 horsepower.

1971 datsun 240 z photos

View of the rear on the 71 Datsun 240 Z

Transmission was a five speed manual.

Brakes were front disc and rear drum.

Suspension was four wheel independent. McPherson struts were up front and Chapman struts were in the rear.

The Datsun 240 Z had a wheelbase of 90.7 inches and an overall length of 161.3 inches. The width was 64.0 inches and the height 50.5 inches. The car’s curb weight came in at 2,335 lbs. More technical data can be found at

1971 Datsun 240 Z total production was 33,684 vehicles.

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There are some excellent reference material available on the Z Cars. They include...Datsun Z Cars by the Consumer Guide Editors…..Essential Datsun Z 240 Z to 280 Z by author Colin Shipway…..How to Restore Your Datsun Z Car by author Wick Humble.

240 z interior photo

Dashboard on the 71 240 Z

Datsun 240 Z Collector Cars

The Z Cars have a great following among collectors. The first Z car, the Datsun 240 Z appears to be the most sought after. Much of this is due to the better handling of the first models by virtue of being without the heavy bumpers.

The 240 Z offers a combinations of good mileage, rugged engineering and better than average performance. On top of this the design still looks great and parts required for restoration or repair are relatively easy to locate. When purchasing a 240 Z  you may want to check for rust since these cars are rust prone. Your search for a 240 Z may also include modified models with poor add-ons which most likely will not add to value and may take away from it. Another thing you’ll find in your search is that there were no convertible models produced.

Looking at asking prices for totally restored Datsun 240 Z’s , as of this writing we’re seeing prices in the mid teens and also in the mid $20,000 range. Another example is a pristine condition show ready model with a price tag approaching $40,000. The 240 Z’s are the collector’s first choice and the price will reflect degree of restoration and how show ready the automobile might be. Many of the finely restored 240 Z’s are put on auction.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)


A Restored 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I

Rolls Royce, the company that started out as Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906, came out with the Silver Cloud in 1955.

rolls royce silver cloud I

1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I

The Silver Cloud was a beautiful automobile and it was very popular among luxury car buyers. Featured in this article is the 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I. Silver Cloud bridged between the pre-war Rolls-Royce and the modern Silver Shadow.

The Silver Cloud model replaced the Silver Dawn which was the car that brought Rolls Royce post war prosperity.

The Silver Cloud I was something very different for Rolls Royce. Instead of building chassis and send them off to custom coach builders, the Silver Cloud was entirely built in the Rolls Royce factory and with a complete factory built body. The Silver Cloud was produced from 1955 to 1966 and during that time was the main model for Rolls Royce.

1956 rolls royce silver cloud

56 Silver Cloud

The Silver Cloud Design

The 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud was beautifully proportioned. The body was mounted onto completely new closed box section frame.

Rolls-Royce’s chief designer John Polwhele Blatchley did a wonderful job with the automobile’s design. The body was designed so meticulously and balanced that the cars’ great  size wasn’t really noticed when first viewed. A lot of people may never have heard of John Polwhele Blatchley however most have seen his work. Blatchley was assigned as Rolls-Royce’s first ever stylist.

Blatchley who retired from Rolls Royce at the age of 55 in 1969 passed away in 2008 at age 95.

An interesting side note was that the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I design came out pretty fast.  Blatchley was asked to quickly sketch of a more traditional design than the one he had been working on for several years. He did and the board at Rolls Royce approved it fast and these automobiles were scheduled for production. Note that these were also automobiles that were to have factory bodies that were to have the same craftsmanship and elegance as those from coach builders. As mentioned above, this was a big departure for Rolls Royce.

1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I Specifications

The 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud engine was 4.9 Liter Inline Six. This engine can be traced all the way back to the Silver Ghost model decades earlier.  Horsepower was estimated to be 155. A British publication had rated the Silver Cloud I with a top speed of 102.0 MPH. Zero to 60 was rated at 13.5 seconds.

Standard transmission was a General Motors four speed automatic.

Brakes were four wheel hydraulic drum.

silver cloud I dashboard

Dashboard on the 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I

The dimensions for the Silver Cloud I included an overall length of 17 ft, 8 inches, a width of 75.0 inches, and a wheelbase of 121.0 inches. There was a long wheelbase model that came out in September 1957 at 145.0 inches. The Silver Cloud I’s curb weight was 4,990 lbs.

A total of 2,238 Silver Cloud I’s were built from 1955 to 1959. Out of these there were 121 that were coach built. There was no mechanical difference between the Rolls-Royce and Bentley versions of the car. Only the badges, radiator and bonnet were different.

New car price for the 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I was about $13,500.

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1956 silver cloud one

Rear view of the Silver Cloud I

The 1956 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud I Collector Car

All Rolls Royce models from the 1950′s are highly popular luxury collector cars. Regarding the Silver Cloud I’s, those that were independently coach built are rare and one’s that are in top condition today can garner six figures at auction. An extremely Rare Freestone and Webb 1956 Silver Cloud I as of this writing had an asking price of $165,000. A rare 1957 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I Mulliner 4 door Sedan with right hand drive had an asking price of $79,900. This model is one of reportedly four produced with suicide doors. Another is a 1957 Silver Cloud with left hand drive and a/c for $39,500.

What you should always look for when shopping for this kind of automobile are complete records and a detailed ownership trail. Repairs on these cars are rarely inexpensive so an  inspection by a qualified Rolls Royce mechanic is recommended.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

The Durable and Powerful 1964 Mercury Comet

A bit of automotive history tells us that the Mercury Comet was supposed to be an entry level compact  Edsel. After the Edsel’s non stellar performance, the Comet was reassigned to the Mercury line. From the very first the Comet was a success with sales of more than 100,000 vehicles it’s first year. Second year sales were 185,000.

1964 mercury comet

1964 Mercury Comet

Mercury essentially had two types of automobiles for the 1964 model year. These were the full size Monterey, Montclair and Park Lanes and the compact Comet, although the 64 Comet was a bit larger than the generic compact. The Comet started to approach intermediate in size.

The Mercury Comet went through a few concept changes since it’s inception in 1960. During that year the Mercury Comet came as either a sedan or station wagon. The Comet was a relative of the Ford Falcon. Both automobiles were designed at the same time. As car collectors are aware, the Ford Falcon chassis went on to become the underpinnings of the Ford Mustang. Because of it’s relationship with the Falcon, the Comet was more compact than intermediate.

1964 comet

64 Comet

Changes to the 1964 Mercury Comet

At first the Mercury Comet was marketed as a compact and economical automobile. For the 1964 model year, the Comet model was redesigned with a sporty style. Also offered were more  V-8 engine options. The 64 Mercury Comets had power. New models for 1964 were the series 202, 404, Caliente and Cyclone. The Cyclone was Comet’s performance model and replaced the previous S-22.

Body styles for 1964 included a two door coupe and convertible and a four door sedan and station wagon.

1964 mercury comet grille

64 Mercury Comet grille

Comet Gets a Boost from Competition Successes

The performance image for the Mercury Comet was aided greatly when a fleet of Comet Caliente hardtops averaged more than 105 mph for 100,000 miles in Daytona.

Customized drag racing Comet’s with 427 cubic inch big blocks were also catching a lot of attention. After results of the endurance run were advertised, sales of the new Comets began to grow dramatically.  Mercury also competed in the East African Safari to solidify it’s durability attributes.  The East African Safari was known as the most demanding rally with about 3,200 miles of the worst roads in the world. The Mercury Comet didn’t win this rally but it certainly proved that it could take some of the most brutal punishment any car would ever encounter anywhere. The durability of the Mercury Comet was a given.

1964 Mercury Comet Specifications

The Mercury Comet came out in 1964 with two Inline Six engines, a 170 and 200 cubic inch, and two V-8′s. These were a 260 and 289 cubic inch design. Horsepower on the sixes were 101 and 120 respectively and for the eights, 164 and 210.

Transmission choices were a three speed automatic or a four speed manual.

Brakes were four wheel self adjusting.

Front suspension was made up of an independent ball joint and coil springs. Rear suspension were longitudinal leaf springs.

1964 mercury comet tail lights

Comet tail lights

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Dimensions included a wheelbase of 114.0 inches and an overall length of 195.1 inches. The car had a width of 71.4 inches and a height of 55.3 inches.

Mercury produced a total of 231,000 vehicles for the 1964 model year. Out of that number there were a total of 188,000 Comets built.

The Comets VIN should be found on the inside of the left fender.

Mercury Comet as Collector Cars

The Mercury Comet has a lot of history attached to it notably coming out at a time when the American automakers started to compete with compact cars. It’s also notable that the vehicle at first was intended to be a compact Edsel.

mercury comet dashboard

64 Comet dashboard

Auction and asking prices for first and second generation Comets vary of course by model and condition, mileage plus degree of restoration. In the case of the 1964 Mercury Comet, the car represented the first of the second generation Comets and had a total redesign.

You may see an asking price range running from $7,000 to $30,000. The S-22′s have some of the higher asking prices as do finely restored convertibles. The Cyclone produced in 1964 took the place of the S-22. The Comet S-22, which had been added along with the Custom models in 1963, had six bullet shaped tail lights and the regular Comets four oval lights. The 1964 Comets had six round taillights as shown in the photo above.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)