Franklin Airman Type 12A


Airman Type 12A

71793 miles
Reference no.
Interior color
Driver's side
Engine size
3900 cc

54 hp


The manually geared 1928 Franklin Airman Type 12A on offer at Classic Park, was completely restored and also repainted, the engine was rebuilt and the interior completely renewed. Pictures of the restoration are present. This car comes with an original (!) maintenance manual and a lot of documentation.


The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company was founded in 1893 by Herbert H. Franklin in Syracuse (NY, USA). The company originally focused on the die-casting process, then a novelty. Syracuse was also the town were talented engineer John Wilkinson worked at a bicycle manufacturer, bicycles in those days were a new and fashionable means of transport. Champion cyclist Wilkinson was very interested in internal combustion engines and motor cars. Herbert Franklin became fascinated by Wilkinson's idea of a lightweight and economical car with air-cooled engine that should be easy to maintain by its owner and the two decided to go into business together.

In 1902 they sold 13 cars for $ 1100 each. Those were the first four-cylinder cars in the US, with a top speed of 12 mph (19 km / h). Franklin cars were innovative, their air-cooled engine was simpler and more reliable than a water-cooled one. The first American six and eight-cylinder cars were also Franklins. They were lightweight cars, partly because the engines were not very powerful. The construction of the bodywork was usual for its time, a wooden frame, often plated with ash wood and later aluminum. Wilkinson was obsessed with lightweight cars and it is said that at the time Franklin was the largest user of aluminum in the world. Franklins were fast, although that now seems relative: in 1929 "Cannonball" Baker set a new transcontinental speed record in a Franklin Series 13, from New York to Los Angeles in 69 hours and 31 minutes. Average speed 46.89 mph (74 km / h). A significant improvement from a previous 1904 Franklin record when the distance between New York and San Francisco was driven in 32 days, 23 hours and 20 minutes! But lets keep in mind there were no asphalt roads at the time.

Early Franklins had a strikingly different design. In the 20s, at the request of dealers, the designs got a more classic look. Apparently this was not to the liking of Wilkinson, who left the company in 1924. Although cheaper than Packard or Cadillac, Franklin was a luxury automobile brand. In 1927 the first rumors that all was not financially well with the company surfaced. Then the global economic crisis hit, and in 1934 it was all over for one of the pioneers of the American automobile industry.

The Franklin Airman is named after famous American aviation icon Charles Lindbergh. He and his female counterpart Amelia Earhart often featured in Franklin advertisements. Air-cooled engines were of course also used in the aviation industry. The Franklin Airman 12A went on sale for $ 4600, its six-cylinder engine produced 50 hp, good for 59 mph (96 km / h). 1928 was the last year Franklin used wooden frames. The Airman 12A had hydraulic brakes on all four wheels and the classic deCausse body styling from earlier years. Mid-1928, a limited edition 12B was presented, with an aluminium transmission and body.

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The Franklin Airman Type 12A

1928 Franklin Airman Type 12A


Renald van Dijke

Your Classic Park contact
+31 (0)411 60 50 00

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