Air-Cooled American: 1930 Franklin Sedan

I always find it fascinating to see how so many manufacturers took on the idea of their own cars, and their own internal combustion engines. The Franklin automobile brand was headquartered in Syracuse, New York, and produced automobiles from 1902, until taking a hit from the stock market crash, and declaring bankruptcy in 1934. Franklins are unusual, as they are air cooled. This particular model needs a complete restoration, but there are valuable spares included making a restoration much more realistic. After spending many decades indoors under the loving care of the past owner, he recently sold this Franklin to a museum in the hopes of seeing it restored. At this point it would appear this Franklin is a little more than the museum bargained for, so they are looking to move this rare air-cooled American to the right person. This rare and exclusive machine could be yours for $5,000. Find it here on craigslist out of Richfield, Ohio.

Mostly dismantled, and difficult to inventory, there may be some rare and/or valuable parts missing from this machine. Thankfully there are 3 engines included, as well as wheels, axles, and other spares that can hopefully make this Franklin complete once again. The Franklin air-cooled inline 6 engines are neat as there is a massive fan encapsulated by a fan housing that blows cool air down over the cylinders. The fan is run off of the crank, and much of the upper portion of the engine is hidden by the fans housing. The cylinders are separate finned cylinder liners. Anyone who is familiar with air-cooled engines can imagine how rare parts are for these American made oddities.

From what can be seen of this Franklin, it is a bit of a basket case. The body looks fine, with no obvious damage, or patina present. The doors, glass, roof, fenders, and engine covers are removed. I would assume that many of the larger basic parts are included, but perhaps some smaller detailed items like hardware, trim, and engine components may be missing. Although the condition isn’t the clearest to make out, it would appear that spending a great deal of time indoors certainly hasn’t harmed this one.

The largest collection of Franklin Automobiles in the world resides in the Northeast Classic Car Museum, based out of Norwich, New York. This Museum is a wonderful experience, with an excellent collection, and a few cool American built oddballs. A gentleman named George Staley put a great deal of effort into this museum, and had a sweet spot for Franklins, as well a as a strong affinity for preserving history. If you haven’t been, then make a point to go, otherwise you are cheating yourself. Are you fortunate enough to say you have seen a Franklin before, or that you have seen and heard one run?


  1. Peter R Member

    Porsche visited the Franklin works prior to WWII to study their engineering.
    Franklin engines were used in some helicopter applications in the not too distant past…

  2. KeithK

    Looks like all the new owner needs to do is get on that mailing list for helpful and instructive literature. I can’t believe this project sat for so long with the answers just a letter away !

  3. nessy

    Nothing Like a Franklin. Fine cars. I think this car has been in pieces for so long that it would be very hard to put back together. Who knows where every part could be by now? If it was an open model and not a sedan, the car would have already be saved.

  4. Howard A Member

    ” Many decades inside under the loving care”,,,, I don’t know what part of that to correct 1st. Doesn’t look like it was kept inside OR had loving care. When in NY last summer, an elderly couple had a Franklin. Must have been a local car. I saw it at 2 different shows. It was a remarkable automobile. The woman said they don’t drive it much, it’s quite the beast to get around. It looked a lot like this, might even be theirs, same color,,,,something to shoot for with this car.,_front_left_hood_open.jpg

    Like 1
    • Larry K

      That is a beauty!

  5. John

    One could go to the Gilmore Car Museum to learn how to assemble it, they have a dozen Franklin’s

    • PackardMike

      The Gilmore has a Franklin museum campus and an education/history center. No one has mentioned that at least the early Franklins had a wooden frame. Would be nice to see it saved.

  6. Lee

    looks like the more this guy realized he knew nothing about restoration –and i mean nothing –he just went back to ruining what looks to be a pretty solid car and he then continued to destroy and disassemble all negative nothing positive

  7. Paul

    Love the car, facinated by the air cooled engine. Air cooled simplicity is very appealing, I started on older cars with rebuilding a beetle, currently a porsche 912 – simple to work on. Hope somebody saves this vehicle, its too much work for me. I did bid on a complete Franklin vehicle a couple of months ago, sold for around $12,000 – maybe I was lucky I didn’t win, I’m not sure another project would be well recieved by my better half. Someday maybe I can make space forbone of these – they are unusual and quirky.

  8. Gear Head Engineer

    Wow! What a great day for barn finds. One of my earliest draws to antique cars was a Franklin. Would love to own one some day.

    This is a huge project. Always tough to take on a torn down project like this but these early cars weren’t all that complicated. I picked up a ’64 Lincoln in a similar state and managed to put that back together, so I could probably figure this one out. I assume the body is framed with wood, which is a problem for me. I have no experience or tools for that.

    I travel to this part of OH frequently, will be tempted to check it out next time I am there.

    – John

  9. '63 Lark Daytona ragtop

    Overpriced parts car, unfortunately. I can’t see not being underwater on this project VERY quickly

  10. JoeT

    At least one of the engines pictured is not a Franklin engine. It clearly is a water cooled engine from the freeze plugs in the side of the block and the water pump on the front. The Franklins had a wood (ash) frame up to 1928 and a steel frame from then on. This looks like a mix of Franklin parts and parts from some other unidentified cars. It would take a lot to get this back on the road but properly maintained Franklins are wonderful cars to drive. The Franklin club ( is a great group with many helpful members who can assist a new Franklin owner. If you are ever in Cazenovia, New York the first week of August, you can view a wide array of Franklins at the annual Franklin Trek held there. If the other engines are both Franklin engines and not trashed this could be a good deal for the right person.

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