The Thomassima 3 is an exotic sports car designed by Ferrari lover Tom Meade. When is a Ferrari not a Ferrari? That is if it's a Thomassima III. The history of the world's most famous car manufacturer is ruled by fascinating footnotes. Enzo Ferrari's intensely deep desire to win and his ability to seduce the world of the rich made sure that Ferraris rolling out of the factory in the fifties and sixties were rarely the same.
Another factor played a huge role in this: the area around Modena teemed with corrozziere, practitioners, artists, and body workers whom could make the most magnificent curves in steel, aluminum and whatever material they had.
Then there was Tom Meade, a Californian emigrant and typical hippie, whose love affair with Ferrari started after he saw a 500 TRC in a garage in Los Angeles. When the owner told him what it was and where it was from, he decided immediately to travel there some day. That was easier said than done. He only had 50 Dollars - not much now, but no capital in those days either. He hitchhiked through the US to New Orleans, and got a job as kitchen helper at a Norwegian freight ship. Thirty-five days later Meade arrived in Stavanger, hitchhiked to England, bought a motorcycle, and began a tour through Europe with a friend.
The duo slept six months at the roof of a hotel at Mallorca. After this, Meade finally made it to Italy. He stayed a few months in Rome where he was introduced to the film producer Dino De Laurentiis, and as a figurant he played in the movie The Best of Enemies (1960) with David Niven. Eventually he ended in Modena, and drove a Vespa scooter.
Even though het knocked the door at the Maserati factory after closing time, they let him in and met race director Guerino Bertocchi, which gave him a tour through the factory.
When Meade saw an old race Maserati standing in a corner, he convinced Bertochhi to sell it for about ₤700,000 (about $400 in 1960, about $3,000 these days). It appeared to be a 350S which has been driven by former Silver Arrow F1 driver (and later Le Mans winner) Hans Herrmann in the Mille Miglia of 1957. Nowadays such a car, with such a rich history, would be priceless, but in 1961 this did not mean anything. A local farmer gave permission to keep it in a barn and while restoring it, Tom was introduced to a friend of Bertocchi, the body worker Luciano Bonacini.
Mead slept on the floor of his workshop for a long time, until he was granted permission by the farmer to sleep in a haystack. The body of Tom's car was in pretty poor shape. Bertocchi introduced Meade to Medardo Fantuzzi from Modena, the artist which was responsible for the legendary Maserati A6 GCS, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, and even the car Meade was restoring. Fantuzzi liked the charismatic young American and took him as an intern. "It was an adventure. Nobody ever talked about money, we just had to pay the rent. It was all about cars, cars and cars and nothing more," said Meade.
He started buying and selling rolling Italian exotics for and on behalf of rich American friends and acquaintances, some say he had two 250 GTOs when they were just 'old sports cars'. He is also responsible for countless other Ferraris. He helped designed and building the beautiful 250 Nembo Spyder at Neri & Bonacini. Enzo Ferrari met Meade at the Modena Autodrome and gave Meade his divine grace.
At the end of the sixties, Meade had collected enough engines, chassis parts and cash to make his ideas come true. The cars that came from this – the Thomassima I, II, III and IV, from which the name means something like 'the maximum of Thomas' – are very rare Ferraris, even in those days. The first one, of which is almost certainly no documentation, was built on the chassis of a Ferrari 250 GT, but was lost (together with a lot of art treasures) when the river Arno flooded the city of Florence in November 1966. The Thomassima II was built on the chassis of the Ferrari 330 P3/4 that won the Daytona 24 hours race in 1967. Meade used parts from American muscle cars. This made the original concept stronger.
Meade and his team – which consisted of helping Maserati and Ferrari technicians – used waterproof plywood to shape the car. Under this plywood there was a spaceframe chassis made of tubes, and a 3.0-liter Ferrari V12 engine which was borowed from a 250 GT.
Meade's third car, the Thomassima III, is an American looking car with wing doors that is powered by a Ferrari V12 engine, with an exhaust that reminds you of a plaid of spaghetti. It was showed at the Turin Car Show of 1969 and caused a lot of sensation. So much that it appeared on the cover of the Road & Track Magazine and to have American news program 60 Minutes send a crew to Modena to interview the man that was responsible for the car.
"There were periods he had money flowing like water, but there were also times that they had nothing. But whatever happened, there were always different cars, engines, and parts that he would never sell," says Meade's son.
Thanks to Meade's love for travelling, he spend more than two decades in Thailand and on Bali, where he lived for a dollar or two a day, before he returned to California in 1993 to take care of his sick mother.
He was working on a new, fully made out of carbon fiber car, which would be drive bij the V12 engine from the 333 SP race from the nineties. That was untill he died in the year 2013, at the age of 74 years. For Ferrari it may be nothing but a footnote, but Meade leaves a unique automotive legacy!
The Thomassima 3 has come out in the following versions:
|Col #||Year||Series||Color||Tampo||Base Color / Type||Window Color||Interior Color||Wheel Type||Toy #||Country||Notes||Photo|
|Metalflake Dark Red||Silver 'Thomassima III' & HW logo on rear||Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||5SP||24367||Malaysia|
|Metalflake Dark Red||Silver 'Thomassima III' & HW logo on rear||Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||LW||24367||Malaysia|
|Metalflake Dark Red||Silver 'Thomassima III' & HW logo on right side||Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||LW||24367||Malaysia|
|Metalflake Dark Red||Silver 'Thomassima III' & HW logo on right side||Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||PR5||24367||Malaysia|
White 'Thomassima III' on sides & HW logo on right side
|Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||PR5||50628||China||Named Thomasimma III (misspelled on cards)|
|159||2002||Mainline||Metalflake Teal||Silver 'Thomassima III' & HW logo on right side.||Chrome / Plastic||Clear||Black||PR5||55044||China||Named Thomassima III|
|Black||Flames on hood, 'Thomassima' tampos on sides||Chrome / Plastic||Tinted (Red)||Chrome||5SP||G6798||China||Named Thomassima III|