Monday, December 30, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
This new design, though highly efficient, was met with both skepticism and even a law suit alleging that the engine was originally designed while Franklin and Wilkinson worked for another company. But the pair persisted and even proceeded to make some very lengthy trips for that time to prove the reliability of their unique design. One of the first such "endurance runs" chalked up 134 miles in a single day; an unheard of distance to travel.
What followed were a vast number of innovations that put the Franklin smack dab in the middle of many discussions on automobile advancements. With this growing reputation as a quality luxury car came growing sales. By 1921 the upstate New York company supported 3200 employees working in 18 buildings.
Following World War I, where Franklin worked with Packard to develop a V-12 aircraft engine, the firm teamed with Ford in an attempt to lower prices for consumers. While Franklin had always been a luxury brand, they now started lowering their prices and building smaller cars for more people. This caused manufacturing to be ramped up to meet demand.
By the time the 1925 Model 11A shown here was made, Franklin was at the top of their popularity. Soon, though, various factors began to erode the company's market share. Profits began falling as early as 1927. As the Great Depression hit, Franklin was operating in the red. By 1931 they were showing a $1 million loss.
Lower prices helped to increase sales but in order to maintain their high level of quality the Syracuse based firm saw its profit margin shrink to next to nothing. In addition, growing competition from the surviving luxury car companies all out for the attention of the discerning buyer helped drive Franklin deeper into the red. When Cadillac and then Packard rolled out V12 engines, Franklin felt they had to keep pace. The results were mechanically successful but financially disastrous.
When you consider that in 1929 the company rolled 14,000 cars off of their assembly lines but by 1933 only 1330 units were manufactured. It wasn't long before the banks moved in and took over the operations. In 1934 the company was shuttered, leaving behind a history of innovation.