Air-Cooled Rarity: 1930 Franklin 145 Coupe


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Air cooling was considered a feature in the early years of motoring, when it meant one less thing to deal with (no liquid cooling system). Franklin was a long-time proponent of air cooling, but unfortunately the company barely survived the Depression and went under in 1934. This 1930 model was one of less than 7,000 Franklins produced that year. It is being sold to settle an estate, and is listed here on craigslist for $14,900 or best offer. The car is located in Morristown, Tennessee. Unusual features include a golf bag door visible above just in front of the rear fender and a rumble seat. The engine runs but I’m guessing there’s more work to be done before the car can be driven. The formal roofline sets this one a little apart from other cars this old, and I think the air-cooling would be a topic of conversation at any car show. What do you think this one is worth?

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  1. Mark E

    These are premium quality cars that look really sharp when they’re restored but the buyer is going to be challenged to find parts. I don’t know what they’re worth restored but I believe Franklins are CCCA full classics so it’s definitely worth restoring…just at what price?

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  2. JoeT

    This one has been on and off the market for quite some time. The Franklin club is very active and the members very helpful with finding parts and answering questions. If I had the time and money I’d go take a look at this car and see if I couldn’t make a deal on it. I’ve driven a 1929 Franklin Series 130 and while a little under-powered by todays standards, it was still an enjoyable drive. The 1930 models had a more powerful engine which helps compensate for the heavier weight of the later cars.

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  3. David C

    I believe these can be worth a couple hundred thousand restored. Very neat car!

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  4. A.J.

    No on the couple of hundred k value. Franklin cars are very cool and interesting and also never worth anything. The Dietrich bodied speedster model’s bring the most money but even then it is under 100k even for the convertibles. This is probably a tad over priced but defintiely an attractive and worthwhile project. More interesting than restoring a run of the mill chevy, ford or dodge.

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  5. David Frank DavidMember

    Franklin is actually still in business, and Franklin engines were used in the Tucker Automobile. They’ve been through several owners and changes. The employees bought the company in the 30s and renamed it aircooled motors, but their engines were still called Franklin. During World War ll they produced engines for many of the light aircraft and helicopters. Republic bought them to provide engines for their Seabee aircraft.After the war, Franklin had most of the light aircraft market. Tucker bought the company to provide engines for his cars, and cancelled all the aircraft orders. When the Tucker famiy sold the company, it became Franklin Engines again. It’s currently owned by a company in Poland.

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  6. Ben

    I love the door for golf clubs. I saw this Pierce Arrow with one at the LaMay collection.

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  7. Gary Fiske

    A tad over-priced is correct. Without knowing a lot of details, $6k to $8k is probably more in the range of it’s value. I am restoring a ’23 and have completed a ’33.
    I read those “golf doors” are really just for cleaning out that space where dirt accumulates from the shoes of passengers. Todays golf clubs certainly will not fit.

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  8. Blindmarc

    Love the shape, and style this has. I’d do the body original and modernize the drivetrain.

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    • Neil

      Dreamer! You are about $150,000 over value – restored. This one looks promising as a candidate for restoration, but won’t come anywhere near the value you suggest, even with a restoration, which would cost more than it is worth.

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    • Neil

      Change the engine, and you have a nothing car worth very little. The significance of a Franklin is in the air-cooled engine. The Franklins after 1928 already had factory standard Lockheed brakes which when properly set up work well.

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