A Tribute to
Franson's Motor News


Illuminant by
Robert Wilfred Franson


June 2008


My father Wilfred R. Franson (Bill Franson) published a small magazine, Franson's Motor News, from 1948 through 1973; at first it was titled Franson's Weekly Motor News; and in later years, Car History Magazine.

In the April 2004 online issue of The Automotive Chronicles is a detailed interview with Z. Taylor Vinson, a major collector of automotive literature. Automotive literature to the hobbyist doesn't mean texts or novels, but promotional materials: mostly magazine advertisements and salesroom brochures. These ads and brochures are often colorful, and were accumulated by auto fans. Growing over time, such collections provide a pictorial record of the automobile field. Vinson is a member of the Society of Automotive Historians, as was my father, and also my uncle Donald L. Franson.

Z. Taylor Vinson, in the interview by Rob & Sharon McLellan, explains the beginning of his collection in the late 1940s:

In those days, of course, there weren't automotive magazines. All we had to depend upon, at least for our knowledge of automobiles, was Floyd Clymer and his Motor Scrapbooks and that was the first time I ever began to be aware of the variety of old cars. I think he's had seven or eight scrapbooks, maybe nine, and I got them all, year-after-year. But I was mainly interested in contemporary vehicles. And there was a fellow up in Eugene, Oregon, named Franson who put out something called Franson's Motor News. Somehow or other I had some duplicates. I sent Franson the duplicates and he said he would give me two free ads in the paper that he ran. And he did.

I began hearing from a fellow named in The Netherlands and we had a trading relationship for 40 years. ...

I got two answers to this little ad. The Dutch collector was one. The other was a German family. They weren't really interested in automobiles, but they wanted to practice English. And they became very close friends of mine until they both died in the early 1990s. When I was in the Army in Germany I was there to see them and they visited me twice in the States and I corresponded with them and it was just a wonderful relationship — thanks to Franson's Motor News.

Among the most enduring things we do, and among our best remembered acts, are the gossamer contacts we establish, or enable: with a person, a book, an idea.

Incidentally, the first catalogs that I bought, I think, came through an ad in Franson's Motor News when I was just short of 15. ...

My thanks to the McLellans for enabling, and to Z. Taylor Vinson for sharing, this remembrance.


© 2008 Robert Wilfred Franson

Many colorful examples of
automobile literature at
The Automotive Chronicles


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