Skip to main content

Gumbo's Pic of the Day, Nov. 16, 2015: Franklin Automobiles in Tucson, Arizona

          1932 Model 163 Deluxe Pursuit

One of things I love about traveling is discovering new things. I've loved old cars my whole life,  but still learn about auto manufacturers I previously hadn't heard about. One such manufacturer that I just learned about was the Franklin Automobile Company. They manufactured air-cooled engine cars from 1902 to 1934 in Syracuse, New York. Before antifreeze, having an air-cooled engine was a real plus.  Even after the company's bankruptcy, the Franklin Engine company was purchased by ex-employees and made aircraft engines and even briefly the engine for the Tucker.


1910 Model G Touring

I learned some information about these unique and innovative Franklin Autos at the wonderful museum in Tucson Arizona that's dedicated to the car. Thomas Hubbard, a huge fan of the Franklin, left all his Franklin autos in a trust to preserve his collection for the public to see. He also left Franklin research materials, his Aunt's collection of native American artifacts, a historical adobe home, a museum, other buildings and an endowment , so the foundation could maintain and expand the collection and property.

          Outside the Franklin Museum

Even though the museum is in Tucson, it feels like it's out of town, because when the house was built, it was out of town. Even the street it's on somehow remained unpaved. A guide takes you through the museum and answers any questions you might have. Since it's dedicated to one car make, the museum doesn't get the traffic of others car museums,  but that lets you take in these great cars, the setting and the great architecture. Admission to the museum is $10. Open mid-Oct. to Memorial Day. Wed-Sat 10AM to 4PM.

     1924  Model 10C Sedan

          1934 Model 174 V12 Club Brougham

There were a lot innovations in the Franklin and Wikipedia cited a list of firsts from Carl Doman, a former Franklin Automobile Company chief engineer. See the list below:

  • First 4-cylinder engine (1902). Original model built in 1898.
  • First in scientific light weight and flexible construction (1902).
  • Fundamental features (1902), such as light unsprung weight, full elliptic springs and air-cooling appeared in first car marketed.
  • First in valve-in-head cylinder (1902).
  • First in throttle control (1902).
  • First float-feed carburetor (1902).
  • First 6-cylinder engine (1905). This engine was exhibited at the 1906 Auto Show in New York.
  • First to employ drive through springs (1906).
  • First to use transmission service brake (1906).
  • First to adopt automatic spark advance (1907).
  • First to use individual re-circulating pressure feed oiling system for engine (1912).
  • First to use exhaust jacket for heating intake gases (1913).
  • Pioneered closed bodies. First production sedan (1913).
  • Pioneered aluminum pistons (1915).
  • First to use an electric carburetor primer to facilitate cold weather starting (1917).
  • First to use case-hardened crankshaft in regular production (1921).
  • First to use centrifugal air-cleaner for carburetor (1922).
  • First to use Duralumin connecting rods in regular production (1922).
  • First to employ narrow steel front body pillar construction (1925).

If you're in Tucson and love cars, it makes for a fun visit!


Images (7)
  • 1932 Model 163 Deluxe Pursuit: 1932 Model 163 Deluxe Pursuit
  • Outside the Franklin Museum: Outside the Franklin Museum
  • 1910 Model G Touring: 1910 Model G Touring
  • Franklin Chart: Franklin Chart
  • 1924  Model 10C Sedan: 1924  Model 10C Sedan
  • 1934 Model 174 V12 Club Brougham: 1934 Model 174 V12 Club Brougham
  • 1910 Model G Touring: 1910 Model G Touring

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

Add Comment

Comments (5)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Notice on the 1910 Model G Touring car, it's  a right hand drive car. Most early  US 1900 cars  were because drivers of horse drawn carriages  sat on the right. The US only started to change when Ford put a left hand drive on a 1908 Model T so passengers didn't have to enter the car in oncoming traffic.

If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

I’ve heard that, but I’ve also always wondered if it were true, since a driver holding the reins on a horse or horses would want to be able to exert equal force on either side…and all the pictures I can find of buggy drivers seem to show the driver in the middle!

One site I just looked at suggests that Ford made the switch to make it easier for passengers to get in and out, by moving the driver away from the curb; the same site suggests that in the early days on the Continent, right-hand was popular because for mountain driving, it let the driver see the edge better.

It is amazing the different stories there are! And because of all the different car manufactures there might be truth to a lot the stories.

  About the horse carriages,the pictures I've have seen of the old  carriages is the driver sitting on the right , especially if theres two seats up front, because  a right handed person would want to use the whip with his right hand and not whip the passengers.




If you want a thing done, ask a busy man.

The pictures I found on my quick look were all of NY and Montreal tourist buggy drivers...and I since realized that they must be a special case because...even more important than the whip, have to sit on the side where the lever for the brake is!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Link copied to your clipboard.