1903 Thomas Rear Entrance

The Erwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas Motor Company of Buffalo, New York produced automobiles from 1902 through 1919. The first Thomas-built cars appeared in 1903 and were mostly small runabouts with seating for two. The company had begun like so many other auto-manufacturing firms at the time - through a bicycle business. Thomas had been building bicycles for several companies before making the switch to automotive production. During the 1890s, E.R. was the managing director for H. A. Lozier & Co. who produced the Cleveland bicycle. After he left Lozier, he took over the Buffalo Automobile and Auto-Bi company, which was renowned for their motorcycle engines and bicycle production.

The first E.R. Thomas Motor cars were powered by a vertically-mounted water-cooled straight-three cylinder engine that produced just over 20 horsepower and was backed by a two-speed planetary gearbox. The exterior and mechanical designs were similar to a DeDion Bouton or Renault. This was understandable since the French had been pioneers in the motor industry for over a decades and their automobiles were tried-and-true.

As times progressed, so did the E.R. Thomas Motor Cars. The Company did much to promote its vehicles and to attract customers, such as painting the cars in bright and attractive colors. The cars became more powerful and elegant and became renowned for their reliability and endurance.

In 1908, an E.R. Thomas Car was entered into 'The Great Race' which ran from New York to Paris. The decision was made at the last minute and there was little time to properly adapt the car for the race. Instead, the company pulled one from the production line and entered it into the race. The race began in New York during the winter and proceeded for San Francisco. The entrants then loaded onto a boat and traveled to Alaska and then Siberia. Once they arrived at Siberia, the race continued.

The race lasted 171 days and covered 13,300 miles. At the conclusion of the race, ending in Paris, it was an E.R. Thomas in first place, claiming the overall victory.

Demand for the E.R. Thomas Motor cars increased after the heroic victory. In 1911, the company only produced six-cylinder cars. Within a year, the car had entered into receivership and purchased by C.A. Finnegan of the Empire Smelting Company.

The 1903 Thomas Model 18 Rear Entrance Tonneau were well-engineered automobiles and its build quality and durability helped establish the company's reputation. The 106 cubic-inch F-Head single-cylinder engine with single carburetor produced 8 horsepower and drove through a three-speed manual transmission. It had semi-elliptic leaf springs and two-wheel brakes.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2008
Vehicle Profiles
1903 Thomas Rear Entrance vehicle information

Tonneau

The irony of the Thomas Flyer Company was that it was fostered by a man who never actually learned to drive a motor car. Founded in Buffalo, NY, in 1900, by Edwin Ross Thomas, the company began by building bicycles and motorcycles. Car production beg....[continue reading]

1903 Thomas Rear Entrance vehicle information

Tonneau

Chassis Num: 635
Engine Num: 635

Erwin Ross (E. R.) Thomas was in the bicycle business prior to manufacturing automobiles. He was the managing director for H.A. Lozier & Co. during the early 1890s, where he realized the potential for the newly evolving automobile business. With this....[continue reading]

1903 Thomas Rear Entrance vehicle information

Tonneau

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company began producing automobiles in 1903 after several years of selling motor-bicycles. The company became famous for the Thomas Flyer, one of America's most successful automobiles, which won the 1908 New York to Paris Road R....[continue reading]

Tonneau
 
Tonneau
Chassis #: 635 
Tonneau
 




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Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$450-$1,250
1903 Rear Entrance
$1,250-$3,500
1903 Thomas Rear Entrance Base Price : $1,250

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Thomas
1908Ford (10,202)Buick (8,820)Studebaker (8,132)
1907Ford (14,887)Buick (4,641)Maxwell (3,785)
1906Ford (8,729)Cadillac (3,650)Rambler (2,765)
1905Oldsmobile (6,500)Cadillac (4,029)Rambler (3,807)
1904Oldsmobile (5,508)Rambler (2,342)Cadillac (2,319)
1903Oldsmobile (3,924)Cadillac (2,497)Locomobile (1,897)
1902Locomobile (2,750)Oldsmobile (2,500)Columbia (1,583)
1901Locomobile (1,561)Columbia (1,427)Winton (686)
1900Columbia (1,393)Locomobile (767)Winton (218)
1899Columbia (387)Locomobile (337)Winton (106)
1898Columbia (73)Winton (22)Duryea (12)

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