Hershey | Lot 201
1928 Franklin Series 12B Depot Hack
The Merrick Auto Museum Collection
$24,750 USD | Sold
| Hershey, Pennsylvania
10 October 2019
- America’s favorite air-cooled automobile
- Fascinating restoration history
- Body in the style of Cantrell
Herbert Henry Franklin was a Syracuse, New York, industrialist. In 1901 he became fascinated by an automobile designed by John Wilkinson, a neighbor and Cornell-educated engineer. Wilkinson was fanatical about weight, favoring air-cooling and the lightest components possible, like tubular axles and flexible, full-elliptic springs, aluminum-clad bodies, and laminated ash frames. The H.H. Franklin Company put Wilkinson’s car into production in 1902.
Wilkinson believed that beauty stemmed from function, not ornamentation. Their nicknames described Franklins aptly: “Barrel Front,” “Shovel Nose,” and “Horse Collar.” For a new look, Franklin hired French-born J. Frank de Causse, formerly with Kellner and Locomobile, to style the Series 11, introduced in March 1925. Handsome and modern, the cars adopted a conventional-looking dummy radiator, to Wilkinson’s dismay. The Series 11 followed in 1925 and Series 12 in 1928.
First discovered in the 1950s at Fiske Brothers salvage yard on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, this Franklin was finally rescued in 1969. Hank Manwell brought the remains home to Liverpool, New York, near Syracuse. The Manwells came to know Mae Cantrell Spilger, daughter of Joseph Cantrell of Long Island, New York, head of J.T. Cantrell & Co. Originally the firm did carriage building but in later years specialized in station-wagon bodies, supplying a number of Detroit automakers like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Studebaker. Ms. Spilger was encouraging, and woodworker Dan Burnham in Connecticut crafted components for the body using remnants as patterns. The project was finally completed eight years later, true to the Cantrell motif. Subsequent owners have included B.B. Mills of Denver, Colorado. The Merrick Auto Museum acquired it in 1990.
The workmanship is simply superb.