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August 20, 2020 - 9:04am

Thomas Rocket Car nearly restored but another $4k needed to complete project

posted by Howard B. Owens in Thomas Rocket Car, news, video, batavia.
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It's turned out to take more than four years but restoration work on the Thomas Rocket Car is nearly complete. To finish the restoration work, the volunteers handling the project -- with Dick McClurg of Old World Collision leading restoration -- need to raise another $4,000.

They're asking the community to pitch in. Here is a link to a GoFundMe page where you can make a contribution.

The Thomas Rocket Car was designed by former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas. He and Norman Richardson, a talented welder and body man just out of high school, built the car in a rented garage near Main Street and Ellicott Avenue in 1938.

The design, and several innovations in the car, such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, were dreamed up by Thomas while working on his 1935 thesis for the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Mich.

Once the car was built, Thomas tried to interest any one of the Big Three in Detroit to move the car into production. But whether the automakers felt threatened, or because of the prospect of the World War, or it would have been too expensive to retool, all three companies took a pass. One Detroit executive reportedly told Thomas that his car was 10 years ahead of its time.

Thomas went onto a successful career in Buffalo with the maker of the Playboy automobile, and he apparently kept the Thomas car and drove it for some time. He eventually sold it. Local car buffs searched for it a few years ago and found it stored in a barn in Lockport.

They bought the car and returned it to it's rightful home, Batavia, with the intention it become a display piece of history in the city.

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