History of the Franklin 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.

Runabout John Burns Wilkinson
First Franklin sold in 1902 John Burns, John Wilkinson, and Herbert H. Franklin John and Edith Wilkinson

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.