1929 Franklin Model 135 Convertible Coupe  Chassis no. 35191503418 Engine no. 35-139596

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Lot 320
1929 Franklin Model 135 Convertible Coupe
Chassis no. 35191503418 Engine no. 35-139596

US$ 45,000 - 55,000
£ 33,000 - 41,000
1929 Franklin Model 135 Convertible Coupe
Chassis no. 35191503418
Engine no. 35-139596
From the beginning in 1902, the Franklin automobile was unlike any other car. There were other cars offering overhead valves, four-cylinders and air-cooling, and, there were autos with wooden chassis frames and full-elliptic leaf springs. However, no other automaker offered all of these features in one package.

Cornell-trained engineer, John Wilkinson was the idea man behind the Franklin. He had built a pair of air-cooled automobiles for the New York Automobile Company, but, according to historian Beverly Rae Kimes, that company’s “promoters neglected the matter of recompense.” Unpaid, Wilkinson was receptive to a new automotive venture with backing from die-castings manufacturer H. H. Franklin and machine shop owner W. Charles Lipe. The new firm was established in Syracuse, New York, with Wilkinson as chief engineer.

While others may have been alarmed by the flexing of the wooden chassis of his car, Wilkinson took advantage of it. The wooden chassis - made of laminated side rails - was part of a supple suspension. Aluminum body panels also promoted the flexing. In addition, the lack of a radiator meant that the delicate instrument would not be damaged by the shifting of the flexing frame beneath.

For the next 25 years, Wilkinson continued developing the Franklin along his original principles, although now he used a six-cylinder engine. Despite Wilkinson’s reluctance to change his designs, Franklin dealers wanted conventional and modern styling. In 1923 a half-dozen major distributors demanded a look more in keeping with contemporary automotive styling. Without the changes they requested, they would forfeit their franchises. The dealers got a new Franklin with a false radiator grille and Wilkinson left the company in protest.

For 1929, the Franklin was a fine-looking car of high-quality. From the outside, there was little to suggest that an air-cooled engine lurked beneath the long and conventional hood. The Model 135 featured a 60 horsepower air-cooled six in a 125-inch wheelbase chassis that incorporated steel instead of wood.

Finished in yellow and black and trimmed in red leather, this highly presentable motorcar was restored from the chassis up approximately 15 years ago. Since then it has had little use and benefits from recent reconditioning. A full ‘Classic’, this lovely Franklin is ready for touring with or without the Classic Car Club of America.
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