Franklin Airman Review

1931 Franklin Airman Series 153 Deluxe OHV Air-cooled Six from North America

Model year1931
Year of manufacture1931
First year of ownership2000
Most recent year of ownership2006
Engine and transmission OHV Air-cooled Six Manual
Reliability marks 10 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 5 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
8.3 / 10

Summary:

One of the best cars ever made!!

Faults:

Tires (the 30 year-old inner tubes were leaking).

General Comments:

I just have to say a few words of praise about a car that probably few on this site have either heard about or know much about. The Syracuse, New York-built Franklin has to be one of the most interesting, reliable, well-built and intelligently-designed autos ever made.

My Franklin is typical of its genre, with fully-elliptic springs and air-cooled, overhead valve, six-cylinder engine. There is no heat indicator on the dash, because there's no water to worry about...which, when you think about it, very much reduces the amount of concerns associated with water-cooled engines.

My car's engine is cooled by a large, squirrel-cage type fan that blows air around the sides of the engine.

I have driven this car for hundreds of miles on California freeways in absolute comfort and reliability. The brakes are hydraulic, which are easily serviced. Low octane fuel is perfectly adequate to run on. The ride is surprisingly light for such a big car, due to the long, fully-elliptic "baby buggy" springs.

If you are looking for a good-looking, reliable, fun pre-WW2 car to drive, a Franklin is a great choice. They aren't as expensive as, say, a Packard or Cadillac of the same era, but are arguably as good or better in many respects. There's also a terrific organization for these cars too, the H.H. Franklin Club... a very supportive, helpful and friendly group of people.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 12th February, 2006

13th Feb 2006, 14:39

After having read the above review, I am sure that the writer of it is obviously joking.

13th Feb 2006, 19:58

Um, well, I don't think so. He mentions a car club and the cars he mentions as competitors are obviously contemporaries, not a 2006 Escalade.

14th Feb 2006, 00:17

No, this car is not a daily driver, it is a collector-type "classic" car that is nearly 3/4 a century old. It is not fast by modern standards, but is "happy" at speeds up to 55-60 mph, and is as steady as a rock. Yes, I do drive it on the roads and freeways here in southern California. In the past 5 years I have owned it, I've driven it approximately 2000 trouble-free, enjoyable miles. These Franklins were amazingly well-built, rugged and intelligently-designed autos.

No, I'm NOT joking. Anyone who doesn't believe me should talk with other Franklin owners, or join the H.H. Franklin Club where they will find many others like me who can attest to the above-mentioned qualities of these fine cars.

The Franklin company stopped building cars in 1934, though air-cooled airplane engines continued to be built for some years afterward.

There have been no Franklin dealers since 1934.

28th Mar 2006, 15:14

Go to the following website for Franklins: www.franklincar.org and you can find out that the Franklins were some of the greatest cars ever built. The history is there; PowerPoint shows are there; anything and everything you ever wanted to know.

Thanks.

Richard D.

4th Aug 2007, 16:05

I had a '29 135 series Franklin Victoria Brougham for a while. I drove it regularly around the SF south bay area. It was a pleasure to drive; reliable, comfortable, and handled like a dream. As was mentioned, 55-60 max (and rock steady) on the freeway, but it was just a piece of cake to drive around town. Wish I still had it... and the alfa, and the porsche, and the ferrari, and the fiat, and the maserati, and the firebird, and a huge garage, and an even larger pile of money...

Average review marks: 8.3 / 10, based on 1 review