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DECEMBER 2017: A BIG, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL 1928 FRANKLIN BUSINESS COUPE IS READY FOR TAKEOFF

By on December 15, 2017

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A giant pre-war two door coupe became an instant automotive rock star at a summer show.

 

MSCC is not afraid to admit that we do not know a great deal about the cars manufactured during an era when Capone was king.

 

In fact, MSCC was not even sure whether the massive engine in a 1928 Franklin business coupe was a stock motor.

 

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The air-cooled straight 8 airplane engine was indeed original, according to the ‘28 Franklin’s current owner; an enthusiastic car guy named Bill Mervin.

 

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Bill became the caretaker for the 1928 Franklin after he purchased the car from his father’s estate. Bill’s dad was a big fan of the rare Franklin and was unable to complete the massive restoration on the car before he passed away.

 

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Bill brokered a contentious sale with his family and began the restoration on the 79-year-old car. A Franklin car built in the late 20s owed much of its construction philosophy to its aviation roots, so its lightweight body was constructed of wood and aluminum.

 

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The years had not been particularly kind to the Franklin because its aluminum/hardwood rear end was rotted away over the past several decades.  Bill said the Franklin was difficult to restore because it was largely custom-manufactured by a coach builder in 1928.

 

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Consequently, no two ’28 Franklins were built alike, in Bill’s opinion. The restoration thus far has been “a lot of work- and a lot of head-scratching”, according to Bill. He and his brother in law have joined forces to solve the puzzle together over the years.

 

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The re-fab work involved a donor 1928 Franklin body to establish a guess about the custom assembly of what Bill and his brother in law believe to be a one-off build on Bill’s ’28 Franklin.

 

Bill wants to bring the car back to its original glory and will eventually remove his late father’s add-on signal lights in the future.

 

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As mentioned earlier, the car has its original air-cooled aviation motor that will haul the Franklin up to about 55-60 mph when the big car is pushed to its limits. Bear in mind that a car built in the back nine of the Roaring Twenties was considered to be a rocket ship on wheels if it hit the 1928 Franklin’s velocity.

 

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Bill encountered some trouble when he wanted to replace the tires on the Franklin. In fact, it took him three years to locate the right tires for the rare car because the tire manufacturer’s facility burnt down and Bill was forced to wait until the building was re-built in order to get his tires.

 

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The windshield wipers are original and manually operated, while the washers are also manually operated by a foot pump on the Franklin’s floorboard.

 

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The process to restore the very rare Franklin is ongoing for Bill and his brother in law.

 

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MSCC will give Bill the final word on his late father’s ’28 Franklin legacy car because he calls it a “labor of love” and remains enthusiastic about its completion.    

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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