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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Tale of Thomassima I: From Dream to Tragedy

Forgotten ONES = The world of automotive history is replete with fascinating tales, but few are as intriguing as the story of the Thomassima series. These cars are not the product of the renowned Ferrari factory in Maranello but the brainchild of an innovative American designer named Tom Meade. This narrative brings into focus two legendary models – the 1967 Thomassima II and the 1969 Thomassima III – which continue to captivate car enthusiasts worldwide.
It could be an image of 'Thomassima I' that made by Tom Meade in 1962 based on Ferrari 250 GT. (Picture from: WheelsAge)
Tom Meade's journey began far from the polished showrooms of Italy. Born on January 19, 1939, in Hollywood, Meade was drawn to the artistic chaos and creativity of his surroundings. His passion for bespoke automobiles led him to Modena, Italy, where he set out to create cars that were more than mere machines; they were works of art.

The Thomassima series, deriving its name from the Italian word "massima," meaning "the maximum from Thomas," embodies this vision. These cars are among the rarest and most unique in the world, a testament to an American's dream realized in the heart of Italian automotive culture.
Tom Meade (left) shakes hands with Enzo Ferrari (right) at the Modena Autodrome. (Picture from: Motor1)
The Thomassima saga began in 1962 with the creation of the Thomassima I together with Carrozzeria Neri & Bonacini. This car, based on the Ferrari 250 GT, was a bold statement of Meade's distinct design philosophy. Powered by an early inboard-plug Ferrari 250 GT engine that delivered 240 horsepower, the vehicle's lightweight structure, under 2,000 pounds, allowed for remarkable performance. The innovative use of a 4-speed ZF commercial vehicle front-wheel-drive unit, adapted for a mid-engine layout, highlighted Meade's ingenuity and willingness to push boundaries.
In 1962, Tom Meade crafted the Thomassima I together with Carrozzeria Neri & Bonacini from a Ferrari 250 GT base, transforming it into a unique masterpiece. (Picture from: Autorevue.cz)
Meade's ambitions seemed poised for recognition when he was invited to showcase the Thomassima I at a prestigious car show in Florence in 1966. However, destiny had other plans. During a particularly wet season, the Arno River overflowed, flooding the facility where the Thomassima I was stored. The car was irreparably damaged, lost forever to the waters, and with it, a piece of automotive history was swept away.

The loss of the Thomassima I is made even more poignant by the scant details and images that remain of this pioneering vehicle. This chapter of the Thomassima story is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of human endeavors to the caprices of nature. Enthusiasts can only speculate about what might have been, had this car survived to inspire future generations.
It could be an image of 'Thomassima I' that made by Tom Meade in 1962 based on Ferrari 250 GT. (Picture from: LienhardRacing on Twitter/X)
 Despite this setback, Tom Meade's legacy endured through the Thomassima II and III. These cars are a celebration of Meade's relentless creativity and his unique blend of American innovation with Italian craftsmanship. They stand out not just for their rarity but for their story, one that defies conventional automotive narratives and highlights the enduring allure of bespoke car design.
This image captures the Thomassima I, created by Tom Meade, after enduring flooding by the Arno river during the 1966 wet season. (Picture from: Carrozzieri-Italiani)
The Thomassima series, especially the II and III, continues to enchant collectors and car lovers. They symbolize the fusion of two cultures and the triumph of artistic vision over adversity. The story of these cars goes beyond their physical presence, offering a glimpse into the spirit of innovation that can thrive even in the most unexpected places.

This remarkable tale of the Thomassima series, marked by both tragedy and triumph, invites us to reflect on the enduring power of dreams. Tom Meade's vision, born in Hollywood and realized in Modena, exemplifies how passion and creativity can transcend conventional boundaries, creating legacies that inspire and endure. *** [EKA [18022020] | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | MOTOR1 | THOMASSIMA | CARADISIAC.COM | CHAD GLASS | AUTOREVUE.CZ | CARROZZIERI-ITALIANI ]
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