More Than Yard Art: 1929 Franklin Speedster


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Thanks to P Rettig for this really interesting and unique find! It was a popular thing to do for many years to build speedsters out of old cars. This one listed on eBay is typical except perhaps that it was built from a Franklin. They removed the body, shortened the frame and added a fire truck seat and strapped down a gas tank. That gas tank is huge and looks like it is either newer or refurbished. There is no word on the condition of anything including whether the engine is frozen.

right rear

It appears from the pictures most of the parts from the speedster are there, although it seems to be becoming part of the junk pile behind it.

engine right

The engine looks complete. If it turns, perhaps it could be salvageable for another Franklin project.


What could one do with this speedster? Is it worth $3,500 for parts? Could it be more than yard art? If the engine turns, it could be fun to restore this as a speedster and go vintage racing. As I recall though, several of the speedster organizations are limited to 4 cylinder cars. Do you have any ideas for this speedster? I look forward to seeing your comments. I’ll assume many of you think this is junk or scrap and will say so in clever and amusing ways, but I’m hopeful some knowledgeable folks will have interesting ideas.

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    WOW that’s post apocalyptic or what’s old is new again.

    Death trap for sure, as I wouldn’t trust one part on that jalopy. It is very cool though but I don’t know what kind of yard you would put that in.
    It would be sweet to hear it run and drive it around a field or something. I don’t think I would venture out on the road with it.

    Could you even get $3500 for the parts?

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  2. Mark S

    Build a boat tail body and Delahaye style fenders out of wood and coat the wood with weave fibre glass cloth and apoxy resin. Build a brushed stainless steel hood with brace grille and head lights. Restore engine, driveline, and wheels. paint the wheels red and clear coat the wooden body, paint the fenders black. Do all this and you would have one cool roadster.

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  3. Francisco

    Just the idea of having all of this gasoline behind me is enough to make me shudder. Good for someone with a suicide wish. But who would want to die like that? I mean char-broiled.

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  4. Mark S

    Who said you have to leave a gas tank behind the seat.if you look closely all the suspension and steering as well as the drive line and engine are all there. Of course it needs to be gone through and repaired. Show some imagination and some skill and a period roadster would be the end result. This car doesn’t have to go to a purist to be parted out. Have you guys not ever seen some of the amazing customs that can come from a car like this. I don’t really care what the purist think anyway.

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    • Dave Wright

      I am with you……what a great period racer/roadster this would make. It is much cooler than a comparable (probably no such thing) Ford. These were period modified cars hand built for sporting use. A neighbor of mine while growing up had a Franklin that he drove frequently. It was quite a good car, always started and ran even after sitting for months. He had great collector cars, Imperials, a Diamond T and the Franklin. He liked Quality.

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  5. Sr

    Franklins are air cooled

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    • Dave Wright


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  6. Ross W. Lovell

    . Greetings All,

    A Franklin engine!?!

    The engine seized, as long as the block isn’t cracked, as it’s harder to repair, IS worth the $3500.00.

    The shortened frame and rear diff are just icing on the cake.

    For reference, my ’34 SS1 came with a side valve six cylinder made by Standard Motor Cars. The last one I saw for sale, was $10K for a rebuildable core, wish I pulled the trigger then, mine still has an incorrect era OHV.

    Would love to find this many parts for my car at this price. Franklin, far more special and better quality than the SS1.

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    • Chris Spenceley

      Ross W.Lovell “Would love to find this many parts for my car at this price.” Well here they are : )

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      • Ross W. Lovell

        Greetings All,

        Chris, these won’t fit my SS. Heck, I’ve $3500 in getting an original cowl assembly to my house from Australia, just so I could use it to make a pattern, otherwise it’s firewood and rusty metal…….now residing on the workshop wall.

        Love Franklins, seen the exhibit at the Gilmore in Michigan. Air cooled still concerns me but, if the work shop wasn’t stuffed and my time heavily scheduled, I’d buy it.

        The petrol tank on this appears to be a residential fuel oil tank of smaller proportions which are easily available.

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