1904 Franklin 12hp Four Cylinder Detachable Rear Entrance Tonneau  Chassis no. 409

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Lot 121
1904 Franklin 12hp Four Cylinder Detachable Rear Entrance Tonneau
Registration no. BS 8326 Chassis no. 409

Sold for £ 46,050 (US$ 62,484) inc. premium
1904 Franklin 12hp Four Cylinder Detachable Rear Entrance Tonneau
Registration no. BS 8326
Chassis no. 409
Cornell engineering graduate, John Wilkinson, designed his first prototype air-cooled cars for the New York Automobile Co. but, unsurprisingly fell out with them when he failed to be properly recompensed. Finding financial backing from Alexander T Brown, combined with support from Herbert H Franklin, Wilkinson’s prototype designs went into production with the H. H. Franklin Co., the first car leaving the production lines in June 1902. From the outset, air-cooled engines were the norm for Franklin with four-cylinder engine units featuring overhead valves and being transversely mounted at the front in European, rather than typically American style. The Franklin was mounted on a wooden frame and proved robust on the primitive American dust roads. In 1904 L. L. Whitman challenged the records set by Winton and Packard for the trans-America drive from New York City to San Francisco and set a new record of just 33 days. Franklin remained in motor car manufacture until 1934 and throughout the name Franklin was synonymous with air-cooled engines.
This 1904 12hp example (noted in The Veteran Car Club Cars List as 10hp but quoted in The Standard Catalogue of American Cars as 12hp) was imported to the U.K. in about 1967 from Maryland, U.S.A., by the late Eric Sharman. It was to share the motor house with Eric’s other notable veterans, a Léon Bollée Tandem, an Oldsmobile and a Beeston and enjoyed many successful and complete London to Brighton Runs, both with Eric’s enthusiastic family aboard and also in the hands of friends to whom Eric so generously lent his motor cars. This car is powered by the four-cylinder, transverse-mounted, air-cooled engine with atmospheric inlet valves and mechanical exhaust valves. Drive is through a two-speed planetary transmission system with full elliptic springs front and rear and chain final drive. Spark is provided by the Rhoades Unit Spark System of the New York Coil Co. and the car is to standard right-hand drive specification. External contracting drum brakes operate on the rear wheels. The car is equipped with brass oil lamps (not illustrated), brass mirror and comes with a bulb horn. Mrs Sharman has driven the car on many occasions, including down the Brighton Road, and reports that it is simplicity itself to handle. The Franklin is attractively finished in red livery with black mudguards and fittings throughout are brass. The exceptionally comfortable and spacious four seat detachable tonneau body is upholstered in deep-buttoned black leather.
The car last ran to Brighton in 1998 and has been actively used in local events in the Midlands including the Shakespeare Run. It has not been run for two or three years and will need careful recommissioning, one of Eric’s friends reporting that the valves probably need regrinding and adjustment before active use. This powerful and quick, four-cylinder Brighton car offers four seats on the Brighton Road and a worry-free ascent of Clayton Hill and will, we feel, respond exceptionally well to gentle TLC following a period out of commission. It comes with a Swansea V5 registration document.
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