1925 Franklin Series II Sport Runabout

Franklins are arguably the most individualistic series-produced automobiles of any built in the United States. Best known for their air-cooled engines, Franklins had many other features that set them apart from their competitors such as laminated ash wood frames, full elliptical springs without locating rods, lightweight axles, overhead valve engines and a serious devotion to lightweight materials and construction techniques. Herbert Franklin started the H.H. Franklin Manufacturing Company in 1893, but it was not until 1901 that he teamed up with John Wilkinson, a brilliant engineer who would provide the design and unique features of Franklin’s automobiles, including those powerful and reliable air-cooled engines. Wilkinson’s flexible wood frame and lightweight, supple elliptical suspension was unusually capable of dealing with the rutted, potholed roads of the day, earning Franklin a well-deserved reputation for exceptionally supple ride and responsive handling. These admirable design features were carried over after 1925 when, at the insistence of dealers, Franklin began building more conventional-looking automobiles with large nickel-plated 'dummy radiators' in place of the old Franklin 'horse collar' grilles. This 1925 Franklin Series 11 Faux Cabriolet is notable as one of the first cars featuring the J. Frank De Causse-designed body, and also for its very rare faux cabriolet styling. The tan cloth-covered roof with landau bars gives the appearance of an open car, but underneath there is a fixed metal roof. The car is finished in dark blue with black fenders, blue wood-spoke artillery wheels with wide whitewall tires a split rear bumper flanking the rear-mounted spare and single taillight. Atop the dummy radiator between the 'Twin Beam' drum headlights is a beautiful lion mascot inscribed with the Latin motto Aura Vincit, 'Air Conquers', a nod to Franklin’s air-cooled engine technology. The windshield opens up from the bottom and features a manual wiper as well as a sun visor that matches the faux cabriolet top. The interior is brown leather and features a wood-spoke steering wheel, tan cloth headliner, door pockets, dome light and floor-mounted three-speed manual gearshift. This is a high caliber restoration that presents beautifully inside and out, and in addition to the quality of the restoration the coachwork is both unique and appealing. Franklin was America’s longest running producer of air-cooled automobiles and a standout in that fertile period of automotive design, but this distinctive faux cabriolet stands out even further.

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