Ex-Harrah's Auto Collection
1910 Thomas Flyer Model 6-40 Touring
Chassis no. 380
Engine no. 281
440ci T-Head Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
64bhp at 1,500rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Rear Leaf Spring Suspension
Rear Drum Brakes
*Only three owners from new
*Incredibly well preserved and original condition
*Featured in extensive 1965 Horseless Carriage Gazette article
*One of the finest Thomas Flyer models made
*In first owner's possession for more than 50 years
The Thomas Company
Like so many of his pioneering contemporaries, Erwin Ross (E. R.) Thomas was in the bicycle business prior to manufacturing automobiles. During the 1890s, E. R. was the managing director for H. A. Lozier & Co. who produced the famous Cleveland bicycle. However, he recognized the huge potential in the newly evolving automobile business and 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.
E. R. had bigger things in mind however, and the first Thomas automobiles were introduced in 1903; 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'. Thomas Flyers soon gained notoriety among the faster and more flamboyant Touring cars of their day. E. R. had an eye for flair and his huge powerful cars showed it - they 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!"
The Thomas name endures and is most readily remembered for its most astounding victory in one the greatest automotive competition events of the time, 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. 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.
E. R. Thomas made a last minute decision to enter a car and 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.
The incredible performance of the Thomas boosted sales and in September of 1909, the light six Model M was introduced for the 1910 model year. The Model M was a much-improved development from the previous year's Model L, with a new T-head engine replacing the L-head. The massive engine required a bigger hood and radiator, giving the car much more presence. While sales literature called the Model M a 40-horsepower, factory charts showed these engines developed a maximum of 64 horsepower at 1,500rpm. To demonstrate the incredible flexibility and reliability of the newly designed six cylinder, a Model M was taken on a demonstration run after all of its gears except high and reverse were removed from the transmission. The car was driven from Buffalo over the Berkshires, the White Mountains, the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks and back to Buffalo - all in top gear!
The Motorcar Offered
This Thomas Flyer boasts an amazing history, well documented by Ernest K. Sachreter's January 1965 issue of the Horseless Carriage Gazette.
Purchased new by Mr. Sachreter's father on May 5th, 1910, the Thomas Flyer was a gift for his son. Like many other motoring enthusiasts of the day, the junior Sachreter had become enamored with Thomas Flyer automobiles after the famous Great Race victory. Mr. Sachreter thoroughly enjoyed his Thomas; he drove at every possible opportunity and challenged a number of other sports cars of the time to races, much against his father's wishes.
In 1915 the car was returned to the San Francisco Thomas agency, where it was treated to a thorough service. Mr. Sachreter continued using the car until 1918, when he left to serve in the Army during World War I. He describes preparing the car as follows: "I blocked up the Thomas Flyer, gave each cylinder half a pint of oil, and drained the gas and water." Upon his return from the war his father had a brand new Marmon waiting for him. The Thomas remained in its laid up state for the next 39 years.
By the 1950s, word of this prized Thomas Flyer languishing in a shed got around. Visitors would come by to inquire if the car could be bought - the answer was always no. As the aging Thomas was in need of some refurbishment, Mr. Sachreter entrusted HCCA members Jack and Barbara White to re-commission it. A few weeks of tinkering later, the grand old Thomas was back in action. In 1958 it made its first touring appearance as an "antique" at the Reno Tour. This would be the first of many tours Mr. Sachreter and his wife, Lillie Anne, would participate in with the Thomas. In it, they toured California, Nevada, Washington, Arizona and British Columbia.
In the 1960's, the Sachreter's Thomas caught the interest of passionate Thomas Flyer enthusiast and collector, William Fisk "Bill" Harrah. Harrah befriended the Sachreters and would tour with them regularly. Eventually Mr. Harrah was able to acquire the Thomas from its original long-term custodian. Its healthy performance, reliability and originality made it a favorite of his. While in Harrah's care, the well-weathered original paint was refinished in the original color scheme - this likely being the only cosmetic restoration work ever done to the car. Eventually it was sold during the Harrah's dispersal auctions in the 1980s, and has since resided in a prominent European collection. It has mainly been on display, but has been kept operational during this period. It is reported to be a strong performer, having recently been used.
This incredible Thomas Flyer has survived in remarkably original condition. Its beautiful red leather upholstery is original, as is the rear sisal mat. Mounted to the running board is the original toolbox with red lined trays containing many of the original tools. All in all, the car looks nearly identical to the delivery photo from 1910.
It is rare to come across any car of this era with such a wonderful ownership history and patina of originality, but to have all that in a Thomas Flyer represents a very rare opportunity.
- Please note that the title for this vehicle is in transit.