1929 Franklin Model 135 Sport Runabout Hi Quality Restoration x Ed Schoenthaler
The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company was a maker of automobiles in the US between 1902 and 1934 in Syracuse, New York. Herbert H. Franklin, the founder, started out in the metal die-casting business (in fact, he invented the term) before entering the automobile business with the engineer John Wilkinson.
All Franklin cars were air-cooled, which the company considered simpler and more reliable than water cooling, and the company considered light weight to be critical in making a well-performing car given the limited power of the engines then available. Most Franklins were wood-framed, though the very first used an angle iron frame (1902) and, beginning in 1928, the heavier cars adopted a conventional pressed-steel frame. Lightweight aluminum was used in quantity, to the extent that Franklin was reckoned to be the largest user of aluminum in the world in the early years of the company.
Franklin cars were technological leaders, first with six cylinders (by 1905) and automatic spark advance, in 1907. Demonstrating reliability, L.L. Whitman drove a Franklin from New York City to San Francisco in 1906 in 15 days 2 hours 15 minutes, a new record. Franklin were undisputed leaders in air-cooled cars at a time when virtually every other manufacturer had adopted water cooling as cheaper and easier to manufacture. Before the invention of antifreeze, the air-cooled car had a huge advantage in cold weather, and Franklins were popular among people such as doctors, who needed an all-weather machine. The limitation of air-cooling was the size of the cylinder bore and the available area for the valves, which limited the power output of the earlier Franklins. By 1921, a change in cooling—moving the fan from sucking hot air to blowing cool air—led the way to the gradual increase in power.
Franklins were often rather odd-looking cars, although some were distinctly handsome with Renault-style hoods. Starting in 1925, at the demand of dealers, Franklins were redesigned to look like conventional cars sporting a massive nickel-plated "dummy radiator" which served as an air intake and was called a "hoodfront". This design by J. Frank DeCausse enabled the Franklin to employ classic styling. The same year, Franklin introduced the boat-tail to car design.
In 1930 Franklin introduced a new type of engine which ultimately produced 100 horsepower, with one of the highest power-to-weight ratios of the time. In 1932, in response to competition amongst luxury car makers, Franklin brought out a twelve-cylinder engine. Air cooled with 398 cubic inches it developed 150 hp. It was designed to be installed in a lightweight chassis, but the car became a 6000 pound behemoth when Franklin engineers were overruled by management sent in from banks to recover bad loans. Although attractive, the Twelve did not have the ride and handling characteristics of its forebears. Unfortunately, this was simply the wrong vehicle to be building after the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. The cars sold poorly and came nowhere near to recouping the company's investment. The company declared bankruptcy in 1934.
This exceptionally well restored car was restored and owned for many years by Ed and Judy Schoenthaler of Chicago, IL- arguably the most stylish couple in the Classic Car Club of America, and on the Concours Circuit.. Ed's cars were always perfectly restored and also quite tour ready. Judy had impeccable taste, and was assigned the often difficult task of choosing the color combination for Ed's restorations. Ed's cars won Awards everywhere they went.
The Model 135 Sport Runabout is a rare and seldom seen car, and this is arguably one of, if not the, finest one in existence. The paint and brightwork are exceptional, the interior is luscious and inviting, and the attention to detail and quality of materials is really beyond reproach. The car runs and drives very well and needs nothing to be immediately enjoyed. .