Franklin History: Herbert H. Franklin ran a die-cast business before meeting John Wilkinson, an engineer who designed an air-cooled engine for Franklin in 1901 and the first Franklin Automobile in 1902. The car was called a "Light Roadsters" and featured the first four-cylinder engine. the body was suspended on leaf springs connected to a wooden frame , giving it a ride similar to that of a horse-drawn buggy. However Wilkinson concentrated on improving performance by increasing the engine size and reducing the chassis weight and gradually went to six and eight cylinder engines and aluminum bodies.
The Franklin Auto Company became a leader in the burgeoning automobile industry by introducing a long line of innovative firsts. His factory included a test track and a mechanic's school, and he built cars for the average consumer and race car drivers. In 1920 his cars were being sold in over 500 cities and his annual payroll exceeded seven million dollars. Production peaked that year at over 10,000 units but by 1931 the depression had reduced that number to about 1,000. The Franklin Manufacturing Company declared bankruptcy in 1934 and the plant was eventually sold to the Carrier air conditioner company for back taxes.
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