Thomas Continues to Contribute to History

High Point Based Manufacturer Funds Historic Streetcar Restoration

High Point, N.C. – Thomas Built Buses’ tenure in the transportation industry has once again landed it in the museum spotlight. A second of the long-standing High Point-based company’s trademark vehicles will take its place among the historical trains, planes and automobiles of the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, N.C.

Before Thomas’ first school bus rolled off the line in 1936, North America’s leading manufacturer of school buses got its start producing streetcars early in the last century. Recently, six Thomas Built employees dove headfirst into restoring a 1923 Perley A. Thomas Car Works streetcar built on the same line the men work on today. One of only 73 of its kind remaining, the streetcar graced the rails of New Orleans’ famous Canal Street until its final run May 31, 1964.

Streetcar 918, as she was known in her prime, is slated for exhibit in early 2010 and Thomas Built Buses has committed the funds necessary for the three year renovation project.

“It’s an honor for Thomas Built vehicles to be showcased for the roles they’ve played in transportation history,” said John O’Leary, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “We are thankful to have employees with such a sense of community spirit and history and Thomas is proud to support them in preserving this treasured piece of history.”

Last summer, Thomas donated a working 1940 school bus to the North Carolina Transportation Museum. The all-steel bus boasts a six-cylinder gasoline engine and four long bench seats, on which children used to sit facing each other.

Perley A. Thomas Car Works was founded in 1916 and originally manufactured streetcars and trolley buses. It transitioned to production of school buses in 1936 and changed its name to Thomas Built Buses in 1972. In 1998, the company was acquired by Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler Company. Perley A. Thomas, the company’s founder, was inducted into the North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame in 2005.

The North Carolina Transportation Museum is located approximately 40 miles north of Charlotte, N.C., on a site that was once the Southern Railway Company’s largest steam locomotive repair facility. The site features an authentic train depot, antique automobiles and a 37-bay roundhouse that houses 25 locomotives, dozens of rail cars and other exhibits. The museum receives about 100,000 visitors each year. See the Museum’s web site ( for directions, exhibit hours and special event information.

Thomas Built Buses ( is the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line in 1936, the company has focused on delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America.

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer on the continent and a leading manufacturer of class 3-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.

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