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...

You may also enjoy the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

A Finely Restored 1917 Ford Model T Touring Car

A Restored 1917 Model T Depot Hack

Antique and Classic Car VIN's / Serial Numbers

The 1967 VW Beetle / Photos, Specs and History

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)

A Rare One / The 1919 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif

It's common knowledge that the first cars during the late 1890's and the first years on the nineteenth century looked a lot like horse drawn carriages without the horse. It's somewhat understandable since many of the very first automakers had been in the horse drawn carriage business. Then came Locomobile. The Locomobile had the distinction of being the first car not designed to look like a "horse and buggy."

1919 locomobile

1919 Locomobile Sportif

Some referred to Locomobile, which first came out in 1899 with a steam powered vehicle, as being the best built car in America. Much of this fame came from the racing successes the company enjoyed during the first decade of the 1900's. Locomobile won the Vanderbilt Cup in 1908.

Locomobile was founded by Amzi Barber and John Walker and as mentioned above the company originally made steam cars under license from Stanley Steamer.

Featured in this article is a 1919 Locomobile Sportif which was their Model 48 Series 5 which was manufactured by the Locomobile Company of America.The Model 48 signified the company's six cylinder engine. The Model 48 came out in 1911 and continued being produced until 1924. This was a 525 cubic inch engine delivering 85 horsepower.

The company was located in Bridgeport Connecticut and built Locomobiles from 1899 to 1929. The Locomobile was the best selling automobile in America by 1902. Four thousand vehicles had been manufactured by that time.

locomobile sportif

Locomobile Model 48 Sportif

In many ways the Locomobile was the opposite of the Model T that would debut some years later. The Locomobile Company of America wanted to produce fewer cars for fewer people but at higher prices. The company said that it was building "uncommon cars" whereas Henry Ford started to built cars for the common man. Ford's Universal Car was one name for the Model T.

By the year 1919 the Locomobile was the most powerful luxury automobile available.

The Locomobile Sportif

The Locomobile Sportif is arguably the most noted car of the line. The Sportif model came out in 1916 and was built specifically for department store owner Rodman Wannamaker. The Sportif is considered to be the first dual cowl phaeton.

locomobile dashboard and interior

1919 Locomobile Model 48 dashboard and interior

The Coach Builders for Locomobile

Locomobile coach bodies were built to customers specifications.

The Locomobile Company of America utilized two coach builders who were also located in Bridgeport Connecticut. They were the Bridgeport Body Company who also built for a few other manufacturers but Locomobile was their primary client and the Blue Ribbon Body Company which had Locomobile as a client from the teens to the mid 1920's. Blue Ribbon had been a horse drawn hearse manufacturer and they continued with hearse bodies into the automotive age.

Locomobile's Financial Problems

By 1921 the company was experiencing serious financial difficulties. By 1922 the company was acquired by Durant Motors. Durant Motors was operated by William Durant who previously had been CEO of General Motors. When Durant was ousted from GM he started his own automobile company with a group of investors.

Durant placed the Locomobile at the top of their car line and continued to produce a new Locomobile Model 48 until the Locomobile went out out of business in 1929 and Durant Motors itself in 1931. Under Durant's ownership Locomobile developed a few eight cylinder models. Certainly the onset of the Great Depression spelled doom for Durant Motors.

1919 locomobile dashboard

Another dashboard and control pedals view

Locomobiles have been seen in several motion pictures from the 40's to the 60's as well as noted in a few novels. While some today may have never heard of the Locomobile brand, the name was quite big during the mid teens through the twenties.

Many Locomobiles were scrapped during the World War Two scrap drives. The Locomobiles that escaped that event and are around today will no doubt be preserved. All of these automobiles are now recognized as historic examples of a by-gone era.

locomobile t-head six cylinder engine

Locomobile T-Head six cylinder engine

1919 Locomobile Sportif Specifications

As mentioned above the 1919 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif came with a 525 cubic inch T-Head six cylinder engine delivering 85 horsepower. The transmission was sliding selective.

The 1919 Model 48 Sportif as a large automobile. It's wheelbase was 142.0 inches.

The car had an emergency hand brake and a four wheel foot brake.

Wheels were wood with either cord or balloon tires with the balloons costing more.

New car prices for the 1919 Locomobile ranged anywhere from about $6,500 to a over $10,000. The custom made $10,000 1919 Model 48 Sportif was in sharp contrast to the $300 Ford Model T selling that year.

You may also enjoy the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

E.L. Cord's 1929 Boattail Speedster

The 1903 Ford Model A

Vintage and Classic Automobile Serial Numbers

Two books of note regarding the Locomobile include...The Locomobile Book: The Car of 1911 by the Locomobile Company of America and The Car of 1912 -The Locomobile  by the Locomobile Company of America.

1919 locomobile model 48 sportif

Locomobile Model 48 1919 Sportif

The Rare Locomobile Sportif Collector Car

The Locomobile Sportif is a rare collector automobile by any measure. The Sportif Model 48 was discontinued in 1924 with a new Model produced by Durant until 1929.

The Locomobile Sportif was not a mass production automobile. The company was originally set up to build four cars per day. A lot of information about the Locomobile can be found from the Locomobile Society. The Locomobile Society of America was established as a non-profit organization by a group of serious automobile enthusiasts who appreciate and value the Locomobile as one of the finest motor cars built in the last century. See website

As of this writing, asking prices for surviving Locomobile Model 48's from the late 1910's are over $100,000 and approaching $200,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)

Restored 1914 Ford Model T Depot Hack

Featured in this article is a 1914 Ford Model T Depot Hack. The Depot Hack's were designed to ferry people between train stations or between train stations and hotels and resorts. As the railroads laid their tracks across the country it became the primary mode of transportation for people who had to travel any measurable distance.

model t depot hack

1914 Model T Depot Hack

The original depot hacks were horse-drawn wagons with seating to carry the passengers and some room for baggage. Many referred to the motorized versions as "auto buggies".

The Coach Builders

Ford Motor Company was producing Model T chassis and engines. The job of making this into a depot hack (taxi) was left to the coach builders. There were several coachbuilders involved in this from the teens well into the 1920's. Today, these vintage vehicles are considered the progenitors of the modern SUV/crossover. As far as station wagons were concerned, they had their start in 1929 and Henry Ford basically modeled then after the depot hack.

ford depot hack controls

Ford Depot Hack controls

York Body Corporation

Ford would outsource to coach builders for their automobile bodies.

Sometimes  the vehicle bodies were manufactured in a "knock-down" form and later assembled at the dealer location. Another way was to have the manufacturer ship the chassis and the then body builder would then assemble the vehicle at their factory.

Some of these coach builders that produced depot hacks for Model T's included a company by the name of York Body.. The company started in business as the York Wagon Gear Co., founded in 1892 by Peter Keller, a York, Pennsylvania carriage maker. The business supplied bodies to the areas buggy and wagon builders.

It's a fact that some of the very early Ford trucks were sold with commercial bodies complete. Ford Motor however discontinued the program in 1913 and that essentially created a windfall to enterprising commercial body builders. This lasted through 1924 when the first factory built Ford Model T pick-ups were produced. In 1917 the automotive body building was doing such a robust business that York changed it's name to the York Body Corp.

ford depot hack

1914 Ford depot Hack

Another enterprising coachbuilder in York Pennsylvania was George W. Hoover & Sons. Hoover made a name for itself building mostly ambulance and hearse bodies. In 1928 the two companies merged into what became the York-Hoover Body Company.

Today's Coach Builders

There are a few select companies around the country, most quite small, that today can reconstruct a depot hack body based on old plans, mostly from York bodies. A few of these are cabinet makers. Not that the fitting of these on a Ford Model T chassis is a walk in the park but many of them have been done and done well. Depot hack bodies today might cost in the range of $4,000.

Some auto enthusiasts build depot hacks from scratch and put them up for sale.

You may also enjoy the AutoMuseumOnline articles on the links below...

1920 Ford Model T Pickup

1941 Chevy Half Ton Pickup

The Taxi Cab / Early Taxi Manufacturers

1929 Ford Phantom Woodie Wagon

1937 GMC COE Truck

model t ford engine

Model T Ford engine

1914 Ford Model T Depot Hack Specifications

The mechanical specifications for a Ford Model T Depot Hack were essentially the same as for the Ford Model T car.

The 1914 Ford Model T Depot hack came with the Ford 2.9L 177 CID Inline 4 cylinder engine.

Transmission was the standard Model T 2 speed planetary gear transmission.

The Ford Model T was built before standardization of controls. The early Model T's used the planetary gear transmission for braking. A band would go over a drum in the transmission thus braking the rear wheels.

mode t ford grille

1914 Ford Model T Depot Hack grille

Old Ford Depot Hacks For Sale

Some of the authentic Ford depot hack restorations have gone to auction with some of the larger vintage vehicle auctioneers.

In general the selling prices for restored depot hacks might be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. There are a lot of qualifiers for a selling price today. Obviously, the degree of restoration and the vehicles condition is most important. Others would be if the vehicle is an original brass part restoration or if the body was a modern day reconstruction. What part of the country the vehicle is for sale might effect it's price. Depot hacks are generally not considered as popular as other Ford vintage vehicles but by the sale token you might come across a buyer who is particularly looking for vintage Ford depot hacks.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 AutoMuseumOnline)