By on April 21, 2012

If you want to see a 1910 Franklin up-close and personal, you would usually have to look in a museum. Dave Cruickshank doesn’t believe that 102-year-old cars belong in museums. They belong on the street because as Dave says, “If you own them you should drive them.”

So Dave’s 1910 Franklin is still a street machine. He spends as much time behind the wheel of his centenarian as time will allow him.

Typically a mild summer night becomes an open invitation for Dave to crank up his air-cooled Franklin, hit the Thursday night show and shine in his hometown.

Dave’s hometown has been a multi-generational location for his family. His grandfather owned and operated a livery stable in town before the 1910 Franklin was even built. Maybe one of the early Franklins replaced horses in that livery stable.

But Dave would rather drive history than discuss it, and the Franklin is a perfect vehicle for that experience.

There are very few 102-year-old Franklins left in the world, even fewer on the street. Dave is a fairly young owner of the car, roughly half the age of his ride. He has plenty of time to run up more miles every summer when the weather is good and the top comes down on the old codger.

The Franklin is called a brass car, for obvious reasons, and the brass era ended in 1912 for the Franklins.

The car draws an enormous amount of attention at car shows, so Dave often finds himself in the middle of a crowd of curious onlookers. Dave is a quiet-spoken guy, but he will answer any and all questions about his unique 102-year-old four-wheeled companion.

The Franklin car was produced from 1902 to 1934. Dave’s car needs a hand-crank to start it. It runs like a Swiss watch when he fires it up. All of this begs one question: How did a company that produced a car that runs this well at 102 years old ever go out of business?

Dave was too busy looking for another reason to hit the road in his 102-year-old ride to answer that question, because summer is a short season in his region and this Franklin is topless.

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14 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner:1910 Franklin – A Hundred Years Old And Still On The Road...”

  • avatar

    That was refreshing, thanks.

  • avatar

    Kudos to Dave! I can’t stand people that buy vehicles to keep them in climate controlled storage and never “experience” the vehicle.

    Do Arab sheikhs buy harems of gorgeous women to just look at them?

    I wonder if there ever will be a TTAC article in the year 2112 titled: Car Collector’s Corner: 2010 Pontiac G6?!?

    “…The Pontiac is called a plastic car, for obvious reasons, and the plastic era ended in 2010 for the Pontiac brand.”

  • avatar

    If you do want to see Franklins in a museum, the Franklin car club has their museum at the Gilmore, north of Kalamazoo. Also, just to make a small correction, Franklin didn’t really go out of business, they continued making engines, mostly for aviation under the Aircooled brand. That company was bought out by Preston Tucker. As a matter of fact, the Tucker engines still a Franklin script embossed on one of the cover plates. Aircooled even survived Tucker. I think their engines were made under license in Poland until a couple of years ago.

    Tucker motor with Franklin nameplate here:

  • avatar

    Here’s the link for the Franklin Automobile Collection, the permanent home of The H. H. Franklin Club, @ the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan.

    One thing that makes early Franklins stand out is their round grille, which directs air in the engine’s cooling shroud. Franklins continued to have interesting grille shapes into the 1920s, when they got more conventional.

  • avatar

    My Great-Grandfather had an early 30s Franklin, which he always said was the best car he ever owned. Kept it until after WWII, which was serious longevity in those days. Franklin cars were utimately a victim of the Depression, like so many other smaller makes. They were fairly high-end, I guess what we would call entry-level luxury today.

    I still have the 1908 Ford Model T service manual that he bought for his first car. One of my prized possessions.

  • avatar

    This car is a living and breathing member of early automotive history that is always a rock star on the street,despite the fact that it is 102 years old,roughly the same age as Keith Richards. It is always a treat to see this baby in traffic.

  • avatar

    Stunning; thanks for the cool story!

  • avatar

    My dad’s first car was a 1917 Franklin, bought for him and his new wife by his in-laws as a wedding present when it was two years old. He built a hard top for it to keep the weather out. I have heard many stories about the hardships of motoring in those days. BTW, my mother was his third wife, and he is obviously now deceased. I wasn’t aware that these were air cooled.

    On the subject of driving what you bring, I attended a cruise night in Redlands California about 12 years ago. Lots of nice cars. Someone showed up with their daily driver – a Ford model T, crusted with layers of dirt, top in shreds. It ran just fine.

  • avatar

    Way cool! I have a 1928 Franklin boat-tail roadster sitting in my garage, guess it’s time to get off my duff and get it back on the road. Can’t let Dave have all the fun! Unfortunately it needs a lot of work but I do have a ’22 Essex that is only a battery and cable away from being street-worthy. Guess I know what I am doing after work this week!

  • avatar

    Great story and photos. Gotta love the juxtapositioning with the similarly red-and-black Honda in the background.

  • avatar

    Great cars, back in the day, Franklins were some of the best engineers, best-built American cars, and were, of course, fairly expensive. The answer as to how they’re not still in business is that the Great Depression killed them like it killed so many other higher end/smaller volume automakers in their prime.

    The shell of the Franklin company is still around though. The Polish government acquired the rights to the name and their line of air cooled aircraft engines in the late 1940s, and its still around.

  • avatar

    There is a very good Franklin museum in Tucson.

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