History of the Franklin Company and Club
The Motor Car and the Company
The Franklin motor car was invented by the engineer John Wilkinson and manufactured by the industrialist H. H. Franklin and marked under his name. The Franklin was one of the most innovative motor cars of its time, featuring an air-cooled engine, scientific light weight and flexible construction at a time when other luxury car manufacturers were making ponderous machines. Although it was a luxury car, its unique features made the Franklin a pleasant and easy car to operate, and consequently most Franklins were owner driven. The company always featured many body styles, both factory and custom-made, which were conducive to being owner driven. The Franklin's design allowed it to set many records in point-to-point races which revealed its superior nimble handling, durability, economy and speed over the rough roads of the day. Throughout its history Franklin was a luxury car and it was in this part of the automotive market that it competed with the other notable makes of the day. As such it fell victim to the Great Depression along with many of these same fine luxury car manufacturers.
These remarkable motor cars engendered such a loyal and faithful following that interest in these automobiles never died out. Many individuals continued to operate Franklins as their every day automobiles or preserved them right up to the emergence of the antique and classic hobby, decades after production ceased in 1934. The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company was a very large employer in Syracuse, New York area, its home base, and many people across the world had very fond associations with the company and its motor cars either as employees, dealers, service personnel or just loyal customers of that fine make. For others who were younger it may have been an unforgettable recollection of a Franklin in the family or one which was owned by a neighbor. They were very distinctive automobiles and were not easily forgotten.
The H. H. Franklin Club
The H. H. Franklin Club was founded in 1951 and is comprised of some 900 plus members worldwide, most of them residing in the U.S. and Canada. It is devoted to preserving and enjoying the legacy of the H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company and its principal product the Franklin motor car, (1902 - 1934) one of the pioneer American automobiles.
A few loyal Franklin fans got together in 1951 to celebrate the achievements of this fine company (The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company) and started The H. H. Franklin Club. When word spread of this friendly and informal club, many fond memories of the Franklin were rekindled and the Club's membership grew. (For those of us not born until well after the last Franklin was made, a chance acquaintance with a friendly Franklin owner provided us with the opportunity to learn about this remarkable car and the fellowship of its enthusiastic supporters.) Attendance at its annual national meeting called the "Franklin Trek" held in Syracuse, N.Y. continued to grow until in 1970, the Club moved its national meet to Cazenovia College in Cazenovia, New York a lovely old resort town in the Finger Lake region of New York State. This annual Trek has been held there ever since and has grown from a two day affair to a week-long meet in mid August. The 40th annual Trek was attended by some 400 individuals from the four corners of the U. S. and Canada, bringing nearly 100 Franklin motor cars to the Trek, many of them being driven to the meet. The Trek is non-competitive and all Franklins are welcome. The only automotive award presented is a "Drivers Choice" award for the favorite car at the Trek that year.
After the National Club was formed in 1951 members in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin felt the club should have some type of local meets for Franklin owners and friends. So a small but active group met for dinner one night. From that small group the Region has over 130 members today. The covered states today include, IL, MN, MI, IN, OH, MO, KS, KY, IOWA and also includes National members from all over the U.S. and Canada. The Region holds two meets a year one in the Spring (May or June) and one in the Fall (Sept. or Oct.) in which over 50 members and friends attend a long with many Franklins. The meets are held in all the states covered by the Region. The Region also takes a very active part in the Franklin Board Meeting and in its membership there are many members on the Franklin Board.