1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D

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Lot 839
1910 Franklin Model G Touring
Chassis no. 8541D

Sold for US$ 64,350 inc. premium
1910 Franklin Model G Touring
Chassis no. 8541D
At first glance this early Franklin looks like a conventional touring car of the day. Even its big round grille wasn’t that out of place in 1910. Delaunay Bellevilles sported similar grilles.

Look a little closer, though, and some unusual things begin to become apparent. The Franklin had full-elliptical springs, for instance, which most marques had abandoned by 1910 in favor of semi-elliptical and 3/4 elliptical springing that provided more accurate wheel and axle location. The Franklin’s laminated wood frame was worthy of notice, too, at a time when such wood frames as survived were pretty generally at least steel “armored”.

That was, however, about all that was apparent from outside. It was unusual, and maybe even a little archaic in the fast-moving automobile industry in the final year of the century’s first decade.

The big difference was that Franklin was doing all these things by design and with the intent of perfectly sound engineering principles. It would keep them, more or less, for the rest of its life and in the process build up a loyal following of customers who appreciated its determinably idiosyncratic insistence upon doing things Franklin’s way.

Nearly a hundred years later no one has come up with a convincing argument why Franklin was wrong, either.The big round grille was Franklin’s way of swallowing the volumes of air needed to satisfy its overhead valve four-cylinder engine’s direct air cooling. “Direct” in the sense that all automobile engines are air cooled (unless they’re suddenly dunked in a river or pond) using water or some other liquid concoction coolant as an intermediary.

The full-elliptical springs gave a soft, comfortable ride and were reputed to be easy on tires. The wood frame? It has been compared with a good tennis racquet or old time wooden skiis which flex and absorb shocks and irregularities before they get to the human’s frame. Franklin dealers would perversely jack up opposite corners of their cars, then demonstrate how the doors still opened and closed smoothly. Try that on a Buick or Ford.

H.H. Franklin was a successful industrialist in Syracuse, New York with a good business making metal die castings, itself something of an emerging technology. In 1902 he was introduced to John Wilkinson, a recent Cornell University engineering graduate who had designed an air cooled automobile for a client who hadn’t paid him. Franklin took a ride, was impressed and undertook to acquire the deadbeats’ interests and manufacture Wilkinson’s cars. At a time when even quality automobiles were powered with single cylinder engines with atmospheric intake valves, ignition advance engine speed control and tiller steering Franklin’s little runabouts featured inline four cylinder engines, throttle control, overhead valves and wheel steering.

In 1905 the Franklin’s engine moved up front under the barrel-shaped hood with a front-mounted fan to supply cooling air to the finned individual cylinders. Wilkinson was a fervent believer in the virtues of light weight and simplicity, a belief reflected in his decision to reject the added components and complexity of water cooling. He kept experimenting and adding features as soon as they demonstrated their practicality. Automatic spark advance was added in 1907, pressure feed lubrication in 1912, aluminum pistons in 1915, aluminum connecting rods in 1922.

The Model G was introduced in 1906 with a 12hp engine and 88” wheelbase. The model grew in following years, 12hp on 90” wheelbase in 1907, 16hp on 90” in 1908, and 18hp on 91 1/2” in 1909 and 1910 with 143 cubic inches displacement from a 3 3/8” bore and 4” stroke. The compact chassis dimensions are closely adapted to the attractive close-coupled four-place touring car coachwork which is so consistent with the philosophy of John Wilkinson. The engine drives through a 3-speed transmission and shaft drive with contracting band rear wheel brakes and a separate band brake on the driveshaft.

The Paine Collection’s 1910 Franklin Model G Touring Car is liveried in red with black fenders, has black upholstery and a black vinyl top boot enclosing a threadbare old top that is, however, still functional as a pattern. It was acquired in 1988 from the collection of Douglas P. Anderson in Connecticut and has seen little if any use since then. In addition to the standard features of the 1910 Model G it has a Rubes trumpet horn, Jones speedometer, Solar acetylene headlights, kerosene sidelights and kerosene taillight. Blackwall tires are mounted on black painted wood spoke wheels. A wicker hamper sits atop the rear luggage carrier.

It needs love and affection, but is largely complete and has had only some old cosmetic attention to separate it from very impressive originality. The front seat and the rear cushion have been recovered; the rest of the upholstery and interior trim appear to be original, including the rear seat back. The chassis and engine don’t appear ever to have been given much more than some mechanical care and a modicum of cosmetic attention. All of its important components are intact and in such good condition that it becomes questionable whether a sympathetic owner or restorer would do anything more than return them to reliable functioning condition while replacing some of the badly deteriorated soft components.

Wonderfully complete and in exceptionally sound original condition, this is a rare and highly desirable example of the ingenuity and imagination of John Wilkinson. Its survival through generations of collectors who have chosen to leave it largely untouched is abundant endorsement of its importance and the opportunity which it presents to a sophisticated, sympathetic collector. Leaving it largely untouched would be an idiosyncratic position contrary to the expectations of early 21st century collectors. It would be an entirely appropriate tribute to the persistently idiosyncratic work of John Wilkinson and H.H. Franklin.
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
1910 Franklin Model G Touring  Chassis no. 8541D
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