HVA Celebrates 1908 New York to Paris Winner

Thomas Flyer Traveled 22,000 Miles Over Land and Sea

Washington, D.C. (June 22, 2016) – The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA) announced today that the 1907 Thomas Flyer joins other automotive icons on the National Historic Vehicle Register. The car, winner of the 1908 New York to Paris Automobile Race, will be exhaustively measured and documented by the HVA using the guidelines set by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Heritage Documentation and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). Once complete, the material will permanently reside in the Library of Congress, joining such legendary cars as the Shelby Cobra Daytona prototype, the first Meyers Manx dune buggy, one of the last surviving Futurliners and the Marmon Wasp – winner of the very first Indianapolis 500. This is being done to preserve an important chapter in America’s automotive heritage.


“The 1908 New York to Paris race was a daunting challenge given the lack of road infrastructure and state of automobile technology of the period,” said Mark Gessler, President of the Historic Vehicle Association. “Only three of the six competitors completed the course, traveling more than 22,000 miles over 169 days and encountering extremely difficult conditions. The 1907 Thomas Flyer beat the nearest rival by 26 days. Its victory made a profound impact on the fledgling American automobile industry and brought world-recognition to our country.”

DSC_7178- web
photo credit: Alyssa Watson

The Thomas Flyer is owned by the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection) in Reno, Nevada.

The car was in very poor condition, from years of neglect, when it was purchased by Bill Harrah, founder of Harrah’s Automobile Collection and Harrah’s Hotels & Casinos, in 1964 from Henry Austin Clark, Jr., of Long Island, New York. To authenticate the car, Harrah contacted 91-year-old George Schuster, who had driven the Flyer to victory, and invited him to Reno. During the dismantling of the Flyer, Schuster witnessed cracks in the frame and repairs he had made during the race, proving its authenticity.

9_1907 Thomas Flyer_Courtesy HVA_Casey Maxon


The Thomas Flyer was restored to the condition in which it appeared upon finishing the race. This was one of the most enthusiastic and enterprising projects attempted by Harrah’s world-renowned restoration shops, involving the skills of more than 40 craftsmen and restoration experts. After completion, in a record six weeks, it was approved for a “Gold Star,” the highest restoration designation given by Harrah’s Automobile Collection for quality and authenticity. The car was subsequently “aged” to give it the patina expected of a car that had driven around the world.  Harrah’s team worked with Disney and other experts to ensure the seats, the paint, and all of the finishes had just the right look. Today the car remains in this condition, even adorned with mud on the wheels and tires for added effect.

“The 1907 Thomas Flyer was certainly a road-worthy warrior.  Just three days before the 1908 New York to Paris Race, it was pulled off the floor of the E.R. Thomas Company’s showroom,” said Jackie Frady, president and executive director of the National Automobile Museum (The Harrah Collection).  “After 169 days of fierce competition the Thomas Flyer claimed victory and earned its place in history.  It dramatically increased the prestige of American-made automobiles and proved that automobiles could be a year-round mode of transportation and a means of long-distance travel.”

About the Thomas Flyer:

1907 Thomas Flyer Model 35

Built by E.R. Thomas Motor Company, Buffalo, New York

Engine: 4 Cylinders, 60 H.P.

Displacement: 571.3 cubic inches

Wheelbase: 118 inches

Weight: 3,200 lbs (est.)

Price: $4.500

Organization and Funding:

The documentation of the Thomas Flyer (No. 12) on the National Historic Vehicle Register is being organized by the Historic Vehicle Association and underwritten by Hagerty, Shell (including their Pennzoil and Quaker State brands).

About the Historic Vehicle Association

The HVA is dedicated to preserving and sharing America’s automotive heritage. In 2014, the HVA established the National Historic Vehicle Register. Working with the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Heritage Documentation Programs and Library of Congress, their aim is to document historically significant automobiles in America’s past. The HVA is supported by over 400,000 individual historic vehicle owners, key stakeholders and corporations such as Shell (including their Pennzoil and Quaker State brands), Hagerty, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, as well as individual benefactors. Please visit:

About Shell Lubricants

The term ‘Shell Lubricants’ collectively refers to the companies of Royal Dutch Shell plc that are engaged in the lubricants business. Shell Lubricants companies lead the lubricants industry, supplying more than 12 percent of global lubricants volume. * The companies manufacture and blend products for use in consumer, heavy industrial and commercial transport applications. The Shell Lubricants portfolio of top-quality brands includes Pennzoil®, Quaker State®, FormulaShell®, Shell TELLUS®, Shell RIMULA®, Shell ROTELLA® T, Shell SPIRAX® and Jiffy Lube®.

*Kline & Company, “Global Lubricants Industry July 2015: Market Analysis and Assessment.


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Steve Keyes, Communications Director
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