Thomas Built Buses
Thomas Built Buses is a manufacturer of buses, mainly school buses, although in the past they have produced transit buses and bodies for buses used for transit. The company is based in High Point, North Carolina.
In 1916 after World War I, Southern Car Works, a major streetcar manufacturer, closed down due to the economy at the time. As a result, Canadian-born Perley A. Thomas, a chief engineer at Southern Car Works, lost his job. Shortly after he was asked by Southern Public Utilities Company to consider refurbishing several Southern Car Works streetcars. With several ex-coworkers, he opened the Perley A. Thomas Car Works. By the late 1930s, with the streetcar market shrinking, Perley A. Thomas Car Works ceased production of streetcars in 1936. The company found a new market in manufacturing school buses.
Perley Thomas continued to designing vehicles though began handing operation operation of the company to his children. In 1958, Perley Thomas died at the age of 84. His children and grandchildren continued to successfully run the company which became known as Thomas Built Buses in 1972. In 1978 the company introduced its first bus chassis and the Saf-T-Liner® transit-style school bus. In the 1980s, Thomas began producing a Type-A school bus called the Minotour, and also began producing commercial buses.
Freightliner acquired Thomas Built Buses in 1998. Thomas became a wholly owned subsidiary of Freightliner which was a division of DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler). This saw the introduction of the FS-65 model which was a Thomas conventional body on the FS-65 chassis. Working close with Freightliner, this product was close to being a fully integrated school bus. Thomas's next product, the C2, would be a revolutionary integrated school bus which used many new features such as multiplex wiring.
- Minotour - SRW and DRW - small school bus ('short bus') based on cutaway van chassis
- Saf-T-Liner C2 - Conventional school bus
- Saf-T-Liner HDX - Rear engined school bus
- Saf-T-Liner EF - Front engined school bus previously known as the Saf-T-Liner MVP-EF
- Saf-T-Liner EFX - Front engined school bus to replace the Saf-T-Liner EF
- Chartour (1989?-2000?)
- CL960 "Citiliner" (1984?-2000?)
- SLF - Low floor midibus
- TL960 "Transliner" (1995?-2000?)
- Transit Liner MVP-EF
- Transit Liner MVP-ER
- Vista (1989-1998)
- Conventional - Built on variety of chassis
- FS-65 - Built exclusively on the Freightliner chassis
- Mighty Mite - Minibus built on International, Dodge D300, and Chevrolet chassis
- Saf-T-Liner MVP-ER - Economical rear-engined bus
- Saf-T-Liner ER - Top-of-the-line rear-engined bus
- Westcoast-ER - Variant of the Saf-T-Liner ER featuring dual rear axles
- Vista (1989-1998)
- Company History, thomasbus.com, retrieved on 2009-08-09