The Franklin Auto Museum

Get ready to take another trip down memory lane by traveling into Arizona Museums: A Journey into Arizona’s Memory. We are going to get into one of those new fangled contraptions the automobile and visit the Franklin museum. Mr.

 Hubbard wanted to preserve “a small but delightful window into our past one that excites the imagination, especially of younger viewers, and helps people understand how things change and how things that may no longer be practical for today’s conditions, yet can be worth preserving for their beauty. Few things do this as well as the automobile.”   — Thomas H. Hubbard, April 12, 1992

Hubbard, who died on January 2, 1993, left Tucson a legacy of Franklin cars and automobile history. Born January 3, 1925, in Worcester, Massachusetts, he graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1943, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in 1947. He worked for the Magma Copper Company until 1952. Two years later he restored his first car, a 1909 Reo. He restored several cars for the late William Harrah, founder of Harrah’s casinos and developed a sizable Franklin collection of his own. At present the Franklin Auto Museum houses the 1909 Reo, twenty-three Franklins and a 1957 Porsche coupe. Work is proceeding on restoring his home and will eventually display Hubbard’s vast collection of Native American Archaeological artifacts and his splendid collection of Arizona paintings and furniture, which he inherited from his aunt.

The H. H. Franklin Manufacturing Company built the most successful American direct air-cooled cars from 1902 to 1934. These cars engendered a loyal following and many owners preserved them long after production ceased. While restoring classic-era Franklins, Hubbard obtained and preserved the original factory Franklin blueprint collection so he could assure the authenticity of his restorations and also create a Franklin car which never saw production. The 1932 Series 16 V-12 was to have represented the crowning achievement of the Franklin automobile but just before production was scheduled the company fell into receivership and the production of the V-12, which Hubbard considered the ultimate Franklin, was altered. The V-12 Phaeton in the museum which Hubbard created from the drawings is one of a kind.

The Franklin automobile fell on hard times during the Great Depression of the 1930s, along with many other fine luxury car manufacturers. The emphasis for the Tucson collection of Franklin cars is on the finest classic automotive styling. All the major body types are represented from the exclusive “Town Car,” in which a liveried chauffeur sat outside, to the sporty “boat tail,” coupe, and including a 7-passenger open touring car with “jump seats,” a convertible coupe with a rumble seat, a sporty model called a “Speedster,” which is styled to look like a convertible sedan, a “Club Brougham” in the V-12 series which is the most handsome of these V-12 cars and of which only 200 were built in all body types. Five of the Franklins are open 4-door body types with dual windshields, that is, windshields for both front and rear seats, but with four completely different arrangements for the rear windshields.

The museum includes Hubbard’s entire Franklin automobile collection; an extensive library of Franklin Company research materials; the Alice Carpenter Collection of Native American artifacts; an historical adobe home, museum and other buildings along with an endowment to preserve the facility in Tucson. The museum has published a handsome book documenting every Franklin automobile. Today, the Franklin Auto Museum is working with high school students who are involved in vocational education. A group of these students oversaw the moving of a Franklin automobile from the museum to the Tucson Airport where it is on display.

The Franklin Auto Museum is located at 3420 N. Vine Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

Telephone: 520-326-8038 Web Site: www.franklinmuseum.org

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One Response to “The Franklin Auto Museum”

  1. Vera Marie Badertscher Says:

    I don’t know why I’ve never been there, but definitely have to make time to see it. I did read about the rescue of the cars earlier. Sounds absolutely fascinating.

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