1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70

The Thomas, named after the firm's founder Edwin Ross Thomas, actually began as the Buffalo Automobile in 1902. It received a name change the following year once E.R. Thomas was sure the cars merited carrying his name.

Like so many of his pioneering contemporaries, Mr. Thomas was in the bicycle business prior to manufacturing automobiles. During the 1890s, he was the managing director for H. A. Lozier & Co. who produced the famous Cleveland bicycle. He later left Lozier to take over the Buffalo Automobile and Auto-Bi Company, which was known for its production of bicycles and motorcycle engines. In 1900 E. R. changed the company name to Thomas Auto-Bi, and by 1901 Thomas claimed to build more air-cooled motors than anyone else.

In 1903, the first Thomas automobiles were introduced. They were small runabouts described in the catalog as the happy medium between the cheaper and more expensive cars. By 1905 the Thomas Company was building bigger four-cylinder cars dubbed 'Thomas Flyers'. His cars were often finished in bright colors and loaded with many ornate brass accessories. The 1907 sales catalogue boasted 'You can't go by a Thomas Flyer, so go buy one!'

In 1908, a stock Thomas Flyer gained worldwide acclaim for winning the famed 'New York to Paris Race' when it circled the globe in 171 days. Car sales, which had always been good among the wealthy, increased greatly until E.R. Thomas sold the firm in 1911.

Notably, it was said that Thomas died without ever learning to drive!

The Great Race, sponsored by Le Matin, went from New York in the dead of winter, across the United States, to San Francisco. Travels continued aboard a ship to Alaska, and across the Bering Strait, either by ship or by ice to Siberia. To be certain that the Yukon and the Bering Strait would be covered in ice, the race purposely began in the winter. Many of the dirt covered trails had never been traveled by a motorcar.

The decision for a Thomas automobile to contest the race was a last-minute decision. It was made three days prior to the start. A stock 1907 model was selected from the factory lot. 13,341 miles and 171 days later, the victorious Thomas rolled into Paris and forever cemented its place in history.

As the 1910s were coming to a close, Thomas moved into the six-cylinder' territory. Thomas simply extended their existing four with two extra cylinders. The large 5.5-inch bore resulted in a 12.9-liter displacement and produced more than 70 horsepower. At this point in history, this was by far the largest engine available and remains one of the largest engine ever to be fitted to an American production automobile.

The new 'six' was given the designation Model K or 6-70 and Thomas priced it at $6,000 in Touring form, with options of Seven Passenger Touring, 'Tourabout' or 'Flyabout'. The Flyabout was by far the most sporting and effectively a Thomas branding for a 'Toy Tonneau'.


by Daniel Vaughan | Aug 2019

Related Reading : Thomas 6-70 History

The Erwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas Motor Company produced automobiles from 1902 through 1919. Production transpired in Buffalo, New York. The first cars produced by the company 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....
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1909 Vehicle Profiles

1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70 vehicle information

Touring

Production of the Thomas Flyer peaked in 1906 and fell to only 913 units in 1910 when staff salaries were reduced. E.R. Thomas, himself never learned to drive a car, sold his interest in the company. The new company was too late to save Thomas and we....[continue reading]

1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70 vehicle information

Touring

Chassis Num: K 179
Engine Num: 1675/1667

This 1909 Thomas Flyer was formerly a part of Bill Harrah's Collection and was known as 'Big Red.' This is the same model of Thomas Flyer that participated in, and won, the 1908 New York-to-Paris Race. These cars are powered by a six-cylinder, 72-hor....[continue reading]

1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70 vehicle information

Touring

The Model 6-70 evolved from the design of the superb 4-cylinder model by adding two more massive 5.5-inch bore cylinders while keeping the same 5.5-inch stroke. The typical American engine at the time had a longer stroke, often up to 7 inches, which ....[continue reading]

1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70 vehicle information

Flyabout

This 6-cylinder Thomas is the only original 1909 Thomas 6-70 Flyabout in existence. After winning the Great Race in 1907, E.R. Thomas built his first 6-cylinder engine to compete with other luxury American manufacturers such as Pierce-Arrow, and with....[continue reading]

Touring
 
Touring
Chassis #: K 179 
Touring
 
Flyabout
 




Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

$250-$7,500
1909 Flyer K6-70
1909 Thomas Flyer K6-70 Price Range: $6,000 - $7,500

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Thomas
1914Ford (308,162)Overland (48,461)Studebaker (35,374)
1913Ford (168,220)Overland (37,422)Studebaker (31,994)
1912Ford (78,440)Overland (28,572)Buick (19,812)
1911Ford (69,762)Overland (18,745)Maxwell (16,000)
1910Ford (32,053)Buick (30,525)Overland (15,598)
1909Ford (17,771)Buick (14,606)Maxwell (9,460)
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)

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