Hickory hosts air-cooled orphans

| 29 Jul 2011

Air-cooled technology has thrown up some weird but equally loved gems, as demonstrated by the Gilmore Car Museum's recent air-cooled inspired get together in the amusingly-named Hickory Corners in Michigan.

The 18 June meeting was hosted by the H.H. Franklin Club - which is devoted to celebrating the long-defunct American maker of air-cooled cars - as a tribute to the once popular form of automotive cooling.

“I have lots of respect for Nash, Hudson, Oldsmobiles and other orphan brands,” said Bob Harrison, Vice President of the Franklin Club and chairman of the Franklin Automobile Collection committee.  “But it’s high time air-cooled cars got some respect, too.  Memories are short, and many car buffs forget that some of the most popular cars in the world had no radiator, no water pump, no hoses, and no antifreeze,” he added.

The diverse line-up on the day included several European air-cooled icons, from VW Beetles and their Karmann Ghia off spring to Porsches, while home-grown fare extended to Corvairs, Corvans and, of course, Franklins.  

Adding to the unusual mix was The Gilmore Car Museum's executive director Michael Spezia's Citroën 2CV (above) but 'Car of the Show'  went to the most unusual of all: a 1960 Vespa 400 (below) that, at just 88 inches long, is not much bigger than a dining room table. Owners Rob and Patty Gerhing went home with a suitably wacky trophy: a vintage electric desk fan that reportedly had not  worked in years.

The H.H. Franklin Club opened its Franklin Automobile Collection at Hickory Corners on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in May this year with a building styled as a faithful replica of a Los Angeles dealership once owned by Ralph Hamlin, the former bicycle racer who became Franklin’s west coast distributor and the firm’s largest and most successful dealer.

Next year's gathering is scheduled for 16 June. See: www.gilmorecarmuseum.org or www.fanklincar.org for more.