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Vintage Motorcycles: E. R. Thomas 'Auto-Bi' Motorcycle

Vintage 1901 E. R. Thomas Auto-Bi

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company

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The "E.R. Thomas Motor Company" located in Buffalo, New York, was founded by Erwin Ross Thomas in the late 1890s. The E.R. Thomas company began as a manufacturer of "Cleveland bicycles," but was one of the many companies that decided to diversify into the world of motor-driven bicycles, motorized tricycles, and automobiles that were becoming the latest fad at the turn of the century.

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company's "Auto-Bi" or "Auto-Bike" began production in 1901, making E.R. Thomas one of the first manufacturers in the United States to mass-produce motor driven cycles. The factory was located at 1202 Niagara Street, in Buffalo.

The E. R. Thomas Auto-Bi Company

The "Auto-Bi" was manufactured under the "Buffalo Automobile and Auto-Bi Company" which manufactured cars and motorbikes. The 1901 E.R. Thomas 'Auto-Bi' had a 442cc single cylinder motor, wood wheels and handlebars, and a leather belt drive.

1901 E. R. Thomas Auto-Bike
1901 E.R. Thomas Auto-Bi 442cc Cylinder Motor

The 'Buffalo Car' & 'Thomas Flyer'

The first automobile manufactured by the E.R. Thomas Motor Car Co. was in 1903. The cars were small, single-cylinder two-seater runabouts called the "Buffalo." E.R. Thomas began manufacturing the Thomas Flyer touring car in 1904, and in 1908 a Thomas Flyer won the 22,000-mile New York to Paris Race (aka "The Great Race").

Ad for 1905 Thomas Flyer
Ad for 1905 Thomas Flyer by the E.R. Thomas Motor Car Co.

The E.R. Thomas Motor Company built automobiles from 1902 and 1919. In 1912, the company went into receivership, and was purchased by Empire Smelting & Refining Company owner C.A. Finnegan. E.R. Thomas was finally shut down between 1918 and 1919.

E. R. Thomas Auto-Bike Handelbars
Bent-Wood Tiller Handlebars with Cork Grips

E. R. Thomas Auto-Bike Wood Wheels
Auto-Bi Wood Wheel Rims

E. R. Thomas Auto-Bike Seat Detail
Auto-Bi Wicker Seat Vent

Auto-Bike Single-Cylinder Motor
Auto-Bi 442cc Single-Cylinder Motor - Zoom

E. R. Thomas Auto-Bike Headlamp
Auto-Bi Kerosene Headlamp

E.R. Thomas Motor Company Links

Motoring Memories: 1907 Thomas Flyer by Bill Vance

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