E.R. Thomas Motor Company
Our pictures of Thomas cars were taken at car museums, shows, and auctions across the United States.
As with many of the earliest automobile makers, the Thomas marque began in the bicycle business. Erwin R. Thomas had built a good reputation for building light-weight, strong, and inexpensive bicycles. In 1896, Thomas began experimenting with engine building and designed a one-cylinder, air-cooled gas engine that could be fitted onto his quality bicycles, calling the complete unit an "Auto-Bi". Three years later, in 1899, he built his first one-cylinder, four-wheel motor carriage. Thomas erected a factory especially for automobile production in Buffalo, New York, and promoted his new automobiles with advertisements, sales catalogs, and sales manuals.
His later four-cylinder model, named the "Thomas Flyer", had proven to be very reliable so when it was decided to enter the 1908 New York to Paris (Round-The-World) Race, a new 1907 Thomas Flyer was removed from the showroom floor. Minor modifications, such as extra gas tanks and spare tires, were made and the car was driven into history by winning the race.
Because of the publicity accompanying the victory, Thomas sales increased for a time. In 1911, and early 1912, only six-cylinder models were produced, but by the end of 1912, the campany was in receivership. The company was purchased by C. A. Finnegan of the Empire Smelting Company and Thomas cars continued to be catalogued through 1916 and built on order as late as 1918 and possibly 1919.