1904 Thomas Model 22

Erwin Ross (E.R.) Thomas was in the bicycle business and during the 1890s, he was the managing director for H. A. Lozier & Co. who produced the 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 gasoline engine kits to provide propulsion. In 1900 E.R. changed the company name to Thomas Auto-Bi; in October of 1902, the E.R. Thomas Motor Company took over the Buffalo Automobile and Auto-Bi Company. The first Thomas automobiles were designated Models 17 and 18. Both models had a 78-inch wheelbase and a single-cylinder, 8 horsepower engine. The company produced approximately 250 examples in 1903 and 353 in 1904. The 1904 model was a three-cylinder car and was given the Flyer designation. The engine was mounted to a gearbox which had a separate casing with three forward speeds. They were given the Thomas Safety System which was a ratchet mechanism on the back axle which held the car in place on hills should the engine stop.

The 1904 Thomas brochure proclaimed the model to have 'Beauty and Power.' It described the engine as 'In a word, the triple-cylinder motor gives us high speed, high efficiency, the greatest amount of power for a given size of cylinder, or for a minimum of weight, a maximum of speed and power'. Thomas's Chicago agent, C.A. Coey, christened the new car a 'Flyer' - a name that would remain with the Thomas for many years.

The following year, the Thomas automobiles would gain an extra cylinder, and the vehicles grew in size and elegance. They quickly earned a reputation for their speed and durability, with the 1907 sales catalogue boasting, 'You can't go by a Thomas Flyer, so go buy one!' The pinnacle and most memorable competition event associated with the Thomas was the 1908 Le Matin sponsored 'The Great Race.' The route went from New York (in the dead of winter) across the U.S. to San Francisco, then by ship to Alaska, and across the Bering Strait, either by ship or by ice to Siberia.

Just three days prior to the start of the race, E.R. Thomas selected a stock 1907 from the factory lot. 171 days later and having traveled 13,341 miles, the Thomas rolled into Paris the overall winning, forever cementing its accomplishment in the history books.


by Daniel Vaughan | May 2019
Vehicle Profiles
1904 Thomas Model 22 vehicle information

Rear Entrance Tonneau

Engine Num: 1083

This Thomas Model 22 three-cylinder 'Flyer' Rear Entrance Tonneau is the sole example to survive. ....[continue reading]

Rear Entrance Tonneau
 




Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Thomas
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)
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)

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