Bill Thomas of Frenchtown, New Jersey, is one of those guys the rest of us idolize. He left his corporate job to follow his passion and is making a living doing it. And his passion happens to be British cars.
It all began for him at just four years old. The red vertical slats and the sparkle of the chrome on the grille on his father’s black 1952 MG TD completely captivated him. During high school, he pumped gas at a local Amoco station where a sharp-dressed guy in a low, lean sports car—a TR6—came to fill up every Friday evening.
Hearing the deep exhaust note as it pulled out, Thomas vowed to own one someday. He achieved that goal in 1988 with the purchase of a 1971 TR6.
Thomas became an ASE Certified Master Technician and worked as a professional technician for Nissan. He later worked as a technical representative for the Infiniti division before moving to Ferrari/Maserati North America as a technical and business manager.
He sought reprieve from his four-hour daily commute with Triumph therapy. He purchased a 1964 TR4 project car for this purpose and reveled in sweating through every detail of the restoration in his time off.
He executed every aspect of the body-off frame restoration in his two-car garage except for the exterior paint job. His goal was nothing short of perfection.
Proud of the results, Thomas started taking the TR4 to British car shows. It won more trophies than he expected, including Best in Show at Moss Motors Fall Fest in Dover, New Jersey.
It earned more attention than he expected. Other car owners started asking for the name of the shop that did the restoration. When he told them that he did the work himself, they asked how much he’d charge to restore their cars. When he responded that he did it in his spare time and didn’t do it for a living, many proclaimed, “Well, you should!”
That was Thomas’s moment of truth. He realized there was a demand for a quality restoration shop in his area specializing in the cars he loved. Despite holding what many would consider a pinnacle job in the automotive industry, he resigned from Ferrari. With his wife’s support, he took the plunge and opened William Thomas Roadsters, LLC (www.wtroadsters.com) in 2004.
Since then, the cars Thomas has restored have won many concours and show awards. Moss has supplied many of the parts for these projects, and is proud to have a strong dealer partnership with Thomas. “I can honestly say that I’m living my dream and have never looked back,” says Thomas. “I’m a lucky guy.”