Being a native and resident of Southern NYS I've always been fascinated with the Franklins that were built in Syracuse. This company was responsible for many automobile firsts, many of which we take for granted today:
1. 4 cylinder engines
2. valve in head cylinders
3. throttle control
4. 6 cylinder engines
5. float feed carbs
6. transmission service brakes
7. automatic spark advance
8. re-circulating pressure feed oiling
9. first production sedans
...and the list goes in.
I thought Stevens-Duryea was the first to build a production six cylinder and Essex was the first to build a production enclosed sedan. Also, I thought Dorris patented the float feed carb.
I think the "first six cylinder" title is a little murky, and may be difficult to assign Franklin, or several other builders (in my opinion). As early as December 1901 Winton demonstrated a 40 h.p. six cylinder racer according to this article:
The question becomes, does building a one off, or just a few, constitute being "first," or does the "first" six need to be a production automobile? Does it need to be on the market, or just advertised as a future production?
Franklin, Ford, National, Frayer-Miller and Stevens-Duryea all claimed to build the first production six cylinder automobiles, all marketed during the 1906 calendar year.
I believe Henry Ford originally began to design his six cylinder racer engine, that evolved into the six cylinder Model K, in mid to late 1903. My suspicion is the racer Barney Oldfield commissioned Henry Ford to build, according to this August 1903 article, was the beginning of the Ford six cylinder motor:
Oldfield soon contracted to race for Winton, but Henry Ford was designing his six cylinder motor by early 1904, according to this Reminiscence of Oliver Barthel excerpt:
Barthel went on to work on Olds "six-shooter." And Ford would first race his six cylinder engine in 1905.
Maybe Franklin sold six cylinder cars "first," although I don't know when their first six was on the road. I know Ford's first running six cylinder Model K was in N.Y. awaiting the January 1906 auto show by late December 1905. The first Model K were reported delivered to customers during April, 1906.
I thought Buick was first to have overhead valves?
"Valve in head; a head in value."
my ott 9 maxwel has a gas pedal, not sure when they started but all i've seen had them
The first Franklins were sold in 1902. They had four-cylinder air-cooled engines with overhead valves, although the intake valves were atmospheric (i.e. not camshaft-driven) before 1905. The first Buicks were overhead-valve twins in 1904.
Many carmakers appear to have advertised themselves as "first" when they may, or may not have actually been "first." I suspect part of the problem was there was no "Mr. Google," (or Ms.) to fact check. How would a carmaker in Detroit know when another carmaker had begun, tested or begun produced a car or feature in Buffalo, Syracuse, or another part of the country?
My other suspicion is that the rush to demonstrate new cutting edge technology before the competition may have prompted advertising departments to be liberal with the "truth" about who was first.
A quick newspaper check of "first" six cylinder production cars reveal these ads. Franklin advertising their new six cylinder 1906 model in October 1905. Ford advertisements the new 06 six cylinder Model K by mid November 1905:
Somewhere I have a list of 1909 Ford ad listing Ford's "firsts." I'll put it up if I can find it among my well organized (not) files....
I remember Franklins because of their air cooling. I never saw one operate. There were two in south Fort Worth next to the junk yard where I got parts to fix my 36 Plymouth.
There were a few on New London to New Brighton (usually are). I think they look great, and seem to run well, although they seem to smoke quite a bit (maybe the atmospheric valve?).
There has been a really pretty gray touring on the tour, although I don't believe it made it this year. A couple of really attractive runabouts have been on the tour, including a green and black one.
I believe they produced about 250 sixes in 1906. I'd like to see a Franklin six, however don't know if any survive.
Jay Leno has a Franklin, but the video on it has dropped off of his website, as well as the video on his 1925 Model T Runabout.
Found it. What a great survivor, the owner said it placed 2nd in the 1910 desert race (L.A. To Phoenix?):
Sorry, not Leno's Franklin, but one of his videos.....
Jay owns a 1915, here is a picture of it: