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1928 Franklin Airman Sport Tourer

1928 Franklin Airman Sport Tourer


America's longest-lived and most successful air-cooled automobile, the Franklin was the work of engineer John Wilkinson, whose innovative design, produced in prototype form for the New York Automobile Company, was taken up by Syracuse-based die-casting manufacturer Herbert H Franklin. At a time when liquid cooling systems were often unreliable, the Franklin's ability to operate in extremely hot or cold weather conferred a distinct advantage, while the lack of a water pump, radiator and their attendant hoses greatly reduced maintenance costs.

This Franklin is powered by a 3.9-liter, seven-bearing 'six', the Airman, has the front wheel brakes introduced that year and the dummy radiator grille first adopted in 1925. The Airman series was named after pioneer aviator Charles Lindbergh, a Franklin devotee. This Franklin here is a wonderful example of very first model year of Airman. Befitting of the name, the Sport Tourer body affixed to the chassis thoroughly supplies the vehicle's occupants with a healthy dose of wind and sunshine.

The former owner of this car, Frank Spain, was one of the many disciples of the late Bill Harrah, who was noted for his penchant for Franklin cars. It was one of several former Harrah cars that Spain was able to secure as part of his collection which he displayed for several years as the Tupelo Auto Museum, this one joining in 1989. Upon the dispersal of the Tupelo Museum collection in 2019, the collecting baton passed to the late Clive Cussler and his wife, Janet who attended the weekend's festivities and secured a few souvenirs from this museum.

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