This 1908 Thomas Flyer has a Atwater Kent Switch which and was among the earliest automotive examples to use this technology. The Atwater Kent Manufacturing Company has roots that date back to 1896, when A. Atwater Kent left the Worcester Technical Institute in Massachusetts prematurely to start his own business. The business began in his fathers machine shop where he created and sold small electrical items. Kent traveled to Philadelphia on a business trip in 1902 and upon arriving, made the decision to rent a space and relocate his operations to that facility, and continue the production of electrical products. By 1906, Kent he created an ignition system for the automobile which created a single large spark from a series of smaller sparks. The system was dubbed the Unispark and became an integral part of the automobile in the years to come. The success of this venture soon had him creating many other parts for the automobile.
This car has seating for four and a side-mounted tire located on the drivers side. The Thomas Flyer's were very impressive machines. The early examples were powered by four-cylinder engines that were capable of producing an astonishing sixty-horsepower and could propel the cars to speeds of 60 mph. At around $4,000, they were among the more expensive machines on the market, but well worth the price.
This car is in similar configuration to the vehicle that was taken off the show-room floor and driven from New York to Paris in 'The Great Race'. The car was basically stock, except it was given extra gas tanks, additional spare tires, and a few other minor modifications. The car was driven 12,427 land miles in 170 days and straight into the history books. The car had proven reliability and the Thomas marque took full advantage of this wonderful accomplishment, advertising it in sales literature and using it as a tool to promote their product.