Jump to content

Thomas Flyer and Ford collection articles

Recommended Posts

Back in I think the early 1970s (maybe late 60s), I recall a hot rod magazine (maybe Hot Rod was the title) had an article on of all things the restoration of a Thomas Flyer--I think it said the restorer was "Pop" Rice. It was one of the earlier chain drive Thomas's. I'm pretty sure not hallucinating this.:D It had pictures, and I recall something like the article said how hard the restoration was, but Rice said if something was made once, it can be made again. Maybe it was another type car magazine, but I'm fairly certain a hot rod magazine.

And in maybe the same issue, or one published contemporarily, there was an article with pictures describing a hoard of 1910's-30's Fords stowed away in rural Kentucky. I think these were supposedly left over from a dealer and never sold.

I was a kid at the time these were published, but I remember my older brother having the magazine(s) and me reading the articles.

If anyone has a clue or recalls the articles, I would like to try to get the articles. I work in a library so could ILL them.


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is just a wild guess, but Dave Rice , if not in the founding group of Horseless Carriage Club, certainly would have known those people. From what I gathered reading his contributions to HCCA Gazette over a good many years, he owned and restored such cars with particular interest interest in fairly early ones (and by that I mean pre- 1910); and his technical and historical knowledge, and ability in all aspects of restoration was of high order. I recall that he was involved with establishment of the HCCA Foundation in San Diego, so perhaps someone there may be able to point you in the right direction.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember that Thomas Flyer article about Pop Rice. The car was restored for Harold Coker of Coker Tire fame. I think a call or email to Harold or Corky would get you the answer to what magazine had the feature. Then it is on to eBay to find a copy.:)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks--good to know I remember something... Does anyone recall the hot rod magazine article about the stash of early Fords? Again, the article I think was from the early 1970's, or maybe late 1960's.

If I ID the Thomas article, will post the citation here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just bear with me for a minute and I’ll eventually relate this tale to the topic at hand, I promise..

As a 12-year old I had already been an antique car nut for several years. My home town of Chattanooga declared an old fire engine surplus and put it up for auction. I tried to get my dad to bid on it but he, being wiser, not to mention broke knew a 12-year old didn’t need a decrepit old fire engine. It sold for $25 to the grandson of the fire chief who had initially bought the old engine (in 1910, not 1901 as the article says). I cut out the article from the newspaper and put it in an “old car” scrapbook I kept as a youngster. This was in 1956.

The grandson donated or loaned it back to the city and it was set on a concrete pad in the park with a plaque honoring the grandfather. The kids were allowed to climb on it and I spent many hours pretending to drive the old beast until eventually they had to put up a fence around it.

In case you haven’t guessed already, this is the Thomas Flyer referenced above. In 1910 fire engines were generally built on luxury car chassis’ and this one happened to be a Thomas Flyer. Harold Coker recognized its rarity, obtained it from the city and had it restored as a touring car by Pop Rice, a noted restorer 50 or so years ago. I remember reading the magazine article -- I don’t know what magazine. It said Pop Rice built a body according to old drawings; thus the high price tag of the restoration. The article told about having a new radiator made from scratch in Europe at a cost of 4 or 5 thousand dollars, the cost of a well-equipped new Buick or Chrysler at the time.




Edited by DLynskey
Added date of newspaper article (see edit history)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Don is right on most points he makes. He grew up in Chattanooga and knows his history. Our first Thomas Flyer was the Webb Fire Engine pictured. It was built on a 70HP THomas Flyer Chassis. It took us about 8 years to purchase it after we found it. At the time it was owned by Harry Wilcox who was the son of the first driver of the engine. It was stored in a building owned by the City of Chattanooga at Warner Park. Larry Amsley of Chambersburg Pa built the body ,while copying the most original car known at the time which was owned by Mahlon Patton of Lancaster Pa.

At that time Pop Rice, of Peggycraft Restorers took over and finished the project. He was probably one the most accomplished restorer in US at the time doing almost everything himself, including, fabricating what we did not have, painting, upholstery, stripping, mechanical and whatever else needed to be done.

He charged 4.50 per hour and every time I would get the bill I would call and tell him he was not charging enough and he would only say "Thats all Peg and I need , we dont owe anyone anything and we just live simple lives and dont need any more that I have billed you for". When the project was over I did do something extra for the wonderful job he did on the car. He was a wonderful friend and a great talent. He is gone now but his son and grandson are still in business and do wonderful work. They have restored several cars for me, the latest a 1916 Winton 7 passenger touring.

As Paul Harvey used to say "now for the rest of the story". That Thomas is now gone and is owned by Dave Noran but the bug bit me so hard that we have had a total of eleven Thomases and still have nine in our collection. The first Thomas is the feature car on the front of our AACA magazine in the fall of 1972 when I was National President. It won a First Prize that fall at Hershey. Yes I have the magazine where the story is told but havent seen it in years because I have so much literature on Thomas, I cant find it. I, too would like for someone to tell me the name of the magazine, maybe that would help me find it as well. Harold Coker

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks for the information--I hope somebody can provide a citation to the magazine article that told the story of the restoration.

Thoma Flyers are somewhat of personal interest to our family. My great, great uncle owned one but also managed to wreck it by running off a bridge and turning it upside down! He was apparently uninjured or not seriously injured and probably when alone driving it that time. It was one of the later shaft-drive Thomas's--maybe a Model 40? It was a 7-passenger touring with jump seats.

I have a picture of it with him in the driver's seat along with other family members sitting in the passenger seats. But it doesn't show the front of the car--a side view cutting off the front. An infant in the picture is now an elderly lady still living.

There is also a picture of it wrecked, upside down in the creek, in a local published county history. It is a rear view, so still unable to see the front. But it didn't look too badly damaged in the photo--it may have been repaired and driven some more. I'm told family members have other pictures of it--but have never seen them.

If I can get the picture(s) scanned, will try to post them.

This all took place in southwest Virginia--so not too far from Mr. Coker!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...