Air Cooled Project: 1929 Franklin Victoria

Wow, what a find, a 1929 Franklin Victoria Brougham sedan! An unfortunate victim of the great depression, Franklin was one of those marques that went their own way as so many of the independents did in the days before major manufacturer consolidation and elimination. At first blush, it is an impressive-looking car so let’s investigate and see what this Franklin’s story is. Discovered by T.J. and just occupying space in Lucerne Valley, California, this big sedan is available, here on craigslist for $10,500.

Commencing business in 1902, Franklin, ultimately considered to be a luxury car brand, closed its doors in 1934, another victim of very punk economic times. One of the more notable aspects of the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company was their Syracuse, NY domicile as opposed to being centered in Detroit/Dearborn but Franklin was a bit ahead of the automobile curve. But equally notable was that Franklin’s automobiles eschewed water cooling for that of air. And as was the case with most auto manufacturers, Franklin offered an array of body styles including, a Sedan; a Tourer; a Sport Sedan; the mandatory Coupé; a Sport Runabout for those looking for some motoring pizazz, an enclosed-drive Limousine, and finally, a Cabriolet. Our Victoria Brougham fits the category of a sedan, albeit with two doors. In Franklin’s earliest years, 1904-1908, their modest volumes kept them in the top eight in domestic sales but competition, and Ford’s ascendency, in particular, left them out of that group forevermore.

The story behind this Franklin is that it was purchased, sight unseen, by a Georgia buyer who then shipped it to the seller’s locale in California, in hopes that it could be made driveable. Well, apparently a quick fix isn’t in the works and this one’s going to be a longer-term project. Instead of taking it on, the owner wants to take it out and the seller is trying to move it for what the owner paid. What’s not disclosed is what has moved this Franklin from a “maybe” to a “maybe not”. Possibly, it’s an issue with the 60 HP, 4.5-liter in-line six-cylinder engine. Not much is said about this car’s potential operating prowess other than it’s not running.

The exterior shows pretty well, the seller considers it to be a “full classic” that is very original. The images aren’t great but the most obvious flaws appear to be its 93-year-old finish and rusty rear bumper – go figure, right? Beyond that, and its missing front bumper, it looks to be complete and undamaged. Even the running boards still look like they’re level.

The interior is another matter, and I don’t mean just the rusty dash. I’d like to think that the seats have been stripped of their fabric and some enormous weasel-like creature didn’t just hoover the upholstery away. It makes for a very stark image. Oh well, at least the frames and springs are still present but a complete trim job is going to be in order.

The target market for this Franklin is probably pretty narrow. We’ve collectively had the discussion before as it relates to cars of this era but the rarity of a Franklin, coupled with its age, probably narrows the pool of prospective buyers even further. It’s an impressive-looking car this Franklin Victoria Brougham is, here’s to hoping a new caretaker will surface, right?


  1. Joshua Mortensen Staff

    What an impressive machine! Could be fun, but finding parts could be a challenge.

    Like 8
    • Joaquin Homen

      Calling Jay Leno.

      Like 2
  2. Beaner

    Great car, prob a ton of fun, but the cost to restore will be more than anyone today is going to be willing to pay. 40 years ago maybe someone with a history with these might have wanted it, but today, I just don’t see it. Your right about the seats, they do look creepie.

    Like 3
  3. Steve Gravelle

    Grew up near Syracuse, always found Franklins a fascinating marque. Restoring this would be a challenge for sure, but you’d really have something.

    Like 8
    • PaulG

      I too grew up near Syracuse and find these intriguing. My Mom, also a 1929 model turns 93 soon!

      Like 12
  4. Jack M.

    I was at the Cobble Beach Concours show
    a few years back. There was a participant there with an unrestored Franklin. Always a big crowd around the car as he kept starting it. He drove it a long way to and from the show.

    Like 10
  5. Grog

    I think leaving everything as close to original but, up grading the suspension, electrics and slap a crate engine/trans. Hydraulics maybe?

    • Autoeclection

      The air cooled Franklin engine is what truly makes this car unique. Putting the things in that you are suggesting would destroy the value of this car.

      Like 33
  6. Michael

    Get it mechanically in good shape , restore the seats ,replace tires and drive it locally .Preservation not restoration is the direction today for historical value .

    Like 16
  7. MammothStu

    A friend of mine and his Dad have a fleet of Franklin’s (over 20). They left one in my care for a car show we were sponsoring. It was a amazing vehicle to drive. The air cooled engine set up was quite enjoyable – open the cowl flaps if air temps were up. Back then, cars would overheat or vapor lock on grades. The 1st Franklin they had, was from the 30’s as their original owner car and said they would pass cars sitting on the side of the road on mountain passes with ease back then.

    Like 11
  8. Tony B.

    LOVE this!! I have a 1926 Henney, and if it weren’t for my shop being stacked with more projects than I’ll ever finish…I would love to give this one a go!

    Like 5
  9. George Duran

    I see why it won’t run,someone stole the radiatior!!!9

    Like 4
  10. Gary

    Hell of a gap between the body and splash apron. These were equipped with a Ash wood chassis so who knows what is going on there and the body was a steel wrapped wood inner structure. No one will want this but a 80 year old with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.

    Like 2
    • DavidL Member

      Well Gary, You called me out on this one. Was thinking going to be one of my LOTTO Cars (when I win) but thein I’m rather rapidly pushing onto 80 though I prefer to eat the bananas rather than stand on them

      Like 1
  11. Gary

    Sorry, I believe I may be mistaken on my prior post. This car may have a steel frame being it was made in 29 and is one of their heavier cars. Also the body is mostly aluminum not steel. Sorry for the mistake.

    Like 3
  12. Mike Ingram

    There’s an excellent collection of Franklins at a museum in Norwich, NY.

    Like 4
    • theGasHole

      I was going to mention that, Mike. The Norwich museum has some amazing and rare cars, but the Franklins they have there is a collection like no other. Definitely worth a visit if one has never been there.

      Like 1
  13. V12MECH

    Just an artifact from a bygone era, times change gang, someone may buy it, I would think for less than 10K, much less, maybe to finish an ongoing project.

    Like 1
  14. Rex Osborne

    I have read that the Franklin’s laminated wooden outer frame rails made it one of the best-riding cars of its day. The cross members, I believe were steel. The laminated rails could be unbolted and replaced one at a time by first removing the fenders and running boards.

    Like 4

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