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Franklin Gothic: 1919

San Francisco circa 1919. "Franklin Brougham." A car with an air-cooled engine and unusual veed windshield. Latest entry in the Shorpy Catalog of Quirky Conveyances. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.

San Francisco circa 1919. "Franklin Brougham." A car with an air-cooled engine and unusual veed windshield. Latest entry in the Shorpy Catalog of Quirky Conveyances. 5x7 glass negative by Christopher Helin. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Re Wooden It Be Nice

Is it possible that the word "frame" is being used in different ways? Certainly the Model T and Model A had a great deal of wood in the "frame" that supported the body panels. This was true of many other cars, and is still true of Morgans (the last time I looked). While I don't know of any that used wood for the "chassis" (another ambiguous word) that supports the axles, driveshaft, etc, I wouldn't be terribly surprised if some early ones did so. Here's a link to diagrams of the "body frame" wood for Ts and As:

Wood it, or not

Could be that the wood "frame" referred to in some places is the wood that "framed" the body of the cars, and not constituted the chassis' structure. Fisher Body ( read GM) didn't cease wooden framed construction until the mid 1930s. Custom built cars, and low production ones lasted even longer.

Wooden It Be Nice

Though the Franklin was known for having a wooden chassis, few, if any, major auto manufacturers used them.

[Not so, as owners of brass-era and later cars will attest. Maurice Hendry, in "Cadillac: Standard of the World," recalls an anecdote in which an ash-framed Cadillac chassis proved more resistant to being twisted apart than a steel frame. Below, an excerpt from "Making and Selling Cars: Innovation and Change in the U.S. Automotive Industry." - Dave]
Though I am in no position to argue with a man like Mr. Hendry, he is wrong. Every Model T ford ever built had a steel frame. So did every Dodge, every Durant product, every Maxwell, every Sudebaker (after they went to gasoline powered cars). Pierce, Pope, Stanley, Thomas, Stoddard Dayton, Alco, Locomobile, White, just to name a very few used steel frames. As to Mr. Hendry's assertion that Cadillac used a wooden frame, here is an excerpt from The History of Cadillac.
"The 1903 chassis had angle steel frame with two half-elliptic springs front and rear with straight, tubular front axle. The steering wheel was located on the right-hand side with the controls to the right and using adjustable rack and pinion steering gear. The single tube tires were mounted on 56 cm wood wheels with 12 spokes (14 on the prototype)."
Every Cadillac, ever built, had a steel frame

Design Of The Future

Aerodynamic Windpusher.


My styling favorite car EVER! Besides a lot of unusual standard features like wooden frame and air-cooled engine, the V or "veed" windshield was a Franklin trait up through the mid-20's; available on their closed cars. It doesn't show well in this photo but if you could see a photo of this dream car from the front, it looks like a spaceship. Too cool; thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thug Mansion

3800 Washington was also occupied by a squatter for months recently.

Thanks for the Memories!

A friend of my dad's, Mr. Bill Gewand of Buffalo, New York, had a copy of this car back in the late 1950s. As the old saw goes, he found it in a barn where the farmer was using it as a chicken coupe, although in this case it was true. It took a lot of TLC, but he got the car looking almost as good as the one in this photo and running like a dream. Your picture brought back happy memories, thank you very much.

["Chicken coupe;" haha, very good. -tterrace]

Replica Residence

The noble home in the background is at 3800 Washington Street in San Francisco. It was built in 1904 as an homage/knockoff of the Petit Trianon on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France.

According to, there's currently an offer on it for a cool $18 million (give or take a few sous).

Unusual in many ways

Probably the most unusual thing about the early Franklins is they used a Wooden frame up to about 1928.

[Many, if not most, autos of the era used wooden frames. - Dave]

Sugar Daddy's House

[An impressive edifice, but it's obviously not Spreckels Mansion. - Dave]

Duh! My bad. I spent 30+ minutes on Street View and Images trying to pin it down w/o success.

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