The Thomas Company was founded in Buffalo, NY in 1900 by Edwin Ross Thomas, who had been involved in the railway business. He bought part of the Moribund Globe Cycle Company, and began building bicycles and motorcycles. In 1902, automobile production began in a new factory; the first car was a light single-cylinder car, joined shortly thereafter by a two-cylinder model and, eventually, a three-cylinder model which bore the name 'Thomas Flyer.' By 1907, the output was some 700 cars and 400 taxicabs, and each car produced had to prove itself capable of climbing Brewery Hill in Buffalo. In 1910, Thomas production has slipped to 913 units, due in part to the poor reliability record of the Model L. This example was raced in California, and was a part of the Harrah's Collection in Reno. It is one of two know to exist. E.R. Thomas, who in his decade in the motor industry had never learned to drive a car, sold his interest in the company in 1910, and the assets were eventually sold off in bankruptcy in 1913.
Sales literature claimed the 1909 Thomas was the most powerful, complete and luxurious stock car made. Superiority was not due to any single item but a result of attention to every detail that earned its rank as the world's most perfect car. Thomas offered four lines in 1909 and the K 6-70 was the largest. The engine is a 784 cubic inch, 6-cylinder, developing 70 horsepower with 5 and 1/2 inch bore and 5 and 1/2 inch stroke.
Erwin R. Thomas, like so many other automobile pioneers of the time, had come into the automobile business through bicycles, in Thomas' case the Cleveland bicycle constructed in both Cleveland and Toronto. He had using single-cylinder gasoline engines to power bicycles during the mid-1890s. These were called the Thomas Auto-Bi, built in a new factory in Buffalo, New York starting in 1900. Automobile manufacturing soon followed.
The first Thomas automobiles were built in 1902, fitted with an air-cooled single-cylinder engine with 3.5 or 6 horsepower. These runabouts were given a three-speed sliding gear transmission instead of the simpler two-speed planetary transmission. During their first year of production, production reached 100 units. With these promising sales figures, Thomas undertook construction of a new three-story factory.
By 1903, the Packard automobiles were using steering wheels. By 1904, a 3-cylinder inline vertical engine rated at 24 ALAM horsepower could be found powering the Packards. It was given the name 'Flyer', a name that would stick with the company and immortalized as the victor in the 1908 New York to Paris race.
The three-cylinder 'Flyer' was followed in 1904 by a four-cylinder engine that offered 40 horsepower. Production increased to 400. While Thomas was offering this powerful vehicle, they were working on a six-cylinder engine that would offer 60 horsepower. This engine would continue Thomas's reputation as being built to the highest standards of design, construction and materials. The public recognized this and by 1906, Thomas had 1,514 orders in hand for cars. Expansion continued in 1907 with the introduction of the Thomas-Detroit, and then the legendary Model K 6-70. With 72.6 ALAM horsepower and touring coachwork that brought the final price to over $6,000, the Model K 6-70 was a very impressive, powerful, and comfortable automobile. They were built on a large 140-inch wheelbase and given semi-elliptical front and three-quarter elliptical rear springs.
The 784 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine had each cylinder cast individually with T-head combustion chambers. Dual ignition is provided by a trembler spark generator to plugs located on the intake side of the combustion chamber and a magneto which sparks plugs located above the intake valve.
There is a four-speed sliding gear transmission with a 3-disc clutch. There is an integral differential splitting the drive to the dual chain drive countershafts. Braking is by contracting band on the countershaft which supplements the expanding show drum brakes at each of the rear wheels.
There are only two known original Thomas 6-70 models known to exist. This example's first owners were the Weverton family. Years later it was in the collection of Bill Harrah in Reno/Sparks where it shared honors with the original New York-Paris Thomas Flyer. It was a feature in the Automobile Quarterly Volume VIII, Number 4. It is currently painted in Thomas Red paint, has a tall black top, and black leather upholstery. There are acetylene headlights, kerosene sidelights, Prest-o-Lite tank on the right running board, radiator shell and tall windshield.
This vehicle has been shown at the Meadow Brook Concours on two occasions and was on-hand for the Thomas celebration at the 2008 Amelia Island Concours.
In 2009, this Model 6-70 was offered for sale at the Automobiles of Arizona auction presented by RM Auctions. It was estimated to sell for $900,000 - $1,100,000. The lot failed to sell after receiving a high bid of $675,000.
Later that year, it was offered for sale at the Sports & Classics of Monterey auction in Monterey, California presented by RM Auctions. The car was estimated to sell for $700,000-$900,000. The lot failed to sell after achieving a high bid of $450,000.Also photographed at :