Lot 406

1923 Franklin Series 10 Sedan

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$22,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania

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Chassis No.
143727-11
Engine No.
E85199
Documents
US Title
  • Offered from the Estate of Bob Jones
  • A radically different offering from a unique and storied American manufacturer
  • Air-cooled 199 cu. in. inline-six; three-speed manual transmission
  • Wears a well-preserved older restoration; attractive maroon and black exterior over a gray interior
  • A highly regarded model, with many fascinating engineering details throughout

From the start of production in 1902 through the marque’s end in 1934, Syracuse, New York-based Franklin offered buyers something truly different. Founded by engineer John Wilkinson, Franklin is most famous for its air-cooled engines—for good reason, as it had the longest and most successful stretch selling solely air-cooled automobiles of any American manufacturer in history. The engineering-driven design of Franklins touched every aspect of these vehicles, including widespread use of aluminum (for both powertrain components and bodywork) and, perhaps surprisingly, the use of wooden chassis frames until the late date of 1928. Franklins were consequently lightweight and nimble, yet still offered a supple and luxurious ride—all while remaining economical to operate.

As this 1923 Series 10 Sedan demonstrates, Franklins were also quite visually distinctive. Being air-cooled, they had no need for radiators; some models were fitted with Renault-style “coal scuttle” hoods, while others, including the Series 10, were equipped with slightly more conventional front ends finished with raked-back ovoid grille openings to let air into the engine compartment. Notably, the entire hood assembly ahead of the firewall tilts forward as a single unit for easy access to the 25-horsepower, 199-cubic-inch inline-six—one of many carefully considered design features found throughout the car.

This Series 10 Sedan wears a well-preserved older restoration in maroon with black fenders and black-painted wood-spoke wheels; brass-bezel headlamps and the proud Franklin lion mascot add visual interest to the exterior. A gray cloth interior awaits the driver and passengers inside, while a simple gauge cluster, which incorporates a Waltham clock, keeps the dashboard uncluttered.

Facing pressure from dealers, Franklin eventually gave in to the styling trends of the era and began producing more conventional-looking models (complete with faux radiators) by the mid-1920s. Though technologically impressive and quite handsome—and air-cooled until the very end—these later Franklins do not have the distinctive styling of cars such as this. Finished in highly appealing colors, this 1923 Series 10 Sedan offers its next owner the opportunity to discover why air-cooled Franklins still have so many enthusiastic devotees to the present day.