Thomas Flyer Model 6-70 Flyabout

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Flyer Model 6-70 Flyabout





E. R. Thomas Motor Company was a manufacturer of motorized bicycles, motorized tricycles, motorcycles, and automobiles in Buffalo, New York between 1900 and 1919.

In 1896, Edwin Ross Thomas (1850 – 1936) of Buffalo, New York began selling gasoline engine kits for propelling ordinary bicycles. After forming the Thomas Motor Company, he began selling complete motor-assisted bicycles under the name Thomas Auto-Bi. The Auto-Bi is generally considered to be the first production motorized bicycle made in the United States. By 1903, the company was the largest manufacturer of single-cylinder, air-cooled engines. The Thomas Auto-Bi was later joined by the Auto-Tri, a three-wheeled motorcycle, and the Auto-Two Tri, a motorcycle that could hold three riders.

In 1905, the Thomas Auto-Bi established a new record for a transcontinental crossing of the United States in 48 days. By 1912, the demand for motorcycles had dropped significantly, and the Thomas Motor company discontinued all production of two-wheeled machines.

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company built automobiles from 1902 to 1919. The first Models were the 1902 Model 17, this was available in either a detachable rear entrance tonneau or runabout, equipped with a single cylinder 8hp and 2 speed planetary transmission.

This was followed in January 1903 by the Model 18 with its sliding selective transmission and none detachable Tonneau with rear entrance or runabout body styles. Both the Model 17 and 18 sold side by side until stocks of the Model 17 were sold out in April-May 1903.

In November 1904, the Model 25, 40-horsepower car was introduced at $3,000. It was advertised as capable of 40 to 60 mph in top gear, and the body was of a patented “dustproof” design. This body was unique to Thomas and was carried through the 1907 model year. From 1904 through 1905, the E.R. Thomas Company shipped more than 600 cars, nearly doubling the previous year’s total.

The 1904 Thomas was the first Thomas to bear the "Flyer" name a touring car model and was the first multi cylinder vehicle produced by the firm. It was a 3 cylinder with planetary transmission on the earlier cars late change to the trans axle transmission that would continue for many years. Equipped with a tonneau, it could seat 5 passengers and sold for US$2500. The vertically mounted water-cooled straight-3, situated at the front of the car, produced 24hp (17.9 kW). The steel-framed car weighed 1900 lb (862 kg). A modern cellular radiator was used for cooling. An 8hp (6 kW) tonneau model sold for US$1250.

In 1905, Thomas advanced to four cylinders with models of 40 and 50 horsepower, and later that year, Thomas joined Franklin as one of the first American manufacturers to build a six. In 1906, the company competed for both the Glidden Trophy and the Vanderbilt Cup.

In 1912 the company went into receivership and was purchased by Empire Smelting & Refining Company owner C.A. Finnegan. E.R. Thomas was finally shut down between 1918 and 1919.

A 1907 Model 35 with 4 cylinders and 60 horsepower, dubbed Thomas Flyer, won the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the first and only around-the-world automobile race ever held. The race began in Times Square, New York, on February 12 and covered some 22,000 miles (35,000 km), finishing in Paris on July 30, 1908. Six teams started the race (one Italian, one German, three French (De Dion-Bouton, Motobloc, and Sizaire-Naudin and the American Flyer). Only three of the cars finished, the Thomas Flyer which won, the German Protos, and the Italian Züst. The original intent was to drive the full distance using the frozen Bering Strait to drive across the Pacific Ocean. In the course of the race, the Flyer was the first car to cross the United States taking 41 days 8 hours and 15 minutes, and the first to do so in the winter with George Schuster the first automobile driver to ever make the transcontinental winter crossing of the US. Finishing in 169 days was a remarkable feat, considering the lack of roads and services in 1908. Schuster, the driver, was the only member of the Thomas crew to go the full distance.

The new 'six' commanded the designation Model K or 6-70 for logical reasons and Thomas priced it at $6000 in Touring form, with options of Seven Passenger Touring, 'Tourabout' or 'Flyabout'. Of the handful of options for these chassis, the Flyabout was by far the most sporting and effectively a Thomas branding for a 'Toy Tonneau'. Sitting on a 140 inch wheelbase, it was a gargantuan car even among its peers. Yet, despite its scale, the 'square' engine dimensions of 5½ by 5½ inches and with four speed transmission provided a very tractable and lively engine performance, the engine revving higher and with a broader power band than many of its longer stroked contemporaries. Perhaps owing to lessons learned on their trials around the world, ignition came from a 'belt and braces' system of coil and magneto. 

Sold for: 825000 USD
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