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Regas Automobile Co.
Sager Mfg. Co. (1895-1900), 138 N. Water St.; Regas Vehicle Co., 66 East Ave., 72-80 W. Main St. (1900 - 1903); Regas Automobile Co. (1903-1906), 55-57 South Ave, Rochester, NY
Associated Firms
Mora Motor Car Co.; Frank Toomey & Co.; Omar Motor Co. - aka Child’s Automobile Co.; Mora Power Wagon Co.

Regas founder, James Harry Sager, began manufacturing bicycle accessories with a partner, Willard G. Rich, as the Rich & Co. in 1891. Rich sold his share in the firm to Sager in 1895, who reorganized as the Sager Mfg. Co., its address 138 North Water St., just one block east of St. Paul St. At that time the company’s most popular product was ‘cycle saddles’. In 1899 Sager add bicycle gears to the product line, reorganizing as the Sager Gear Co.

James H. Sager was born in Ontario, Canada in August of 1859, emigrating to the United States in 1884. He married Cora Blanche Mills (b. Mar. 1864 in NY) in 1886 and the union resulted in the birth of two children; Clinton M. (b. Mar. 1889) and Thelma L. (b. June 1897) Sager. In 1900 Sager entered the burgeoning retail vehicle sales and manufacturing business as the Regas Vehicle Co. (Sager spelled backwards) locating his salesroom and manufactory at 66 East Ave., Rochester. A Regas Vehicle Co. advertisement in the February 1, 1900 Democrat & Chronicle (Rochester):

“Electric and Gasoline Automobiles, Motor-Cycles, Bicycles. Regas Vehicle Co. Rochester, NY, Telephone 84. 66 East Ave.”

The firm carried Orient, Ariel, National, Record, Stearns and Regas bicycles; Orient motorcycles and Winner Gasoline and Woods Electric automobiles.

Subsequent advertisements touted the danger of steam automobiles, as evidenced by the following, which appeared in the February 18, 1900 edition of the Democrat & Chronicle:

“AUTOMOBILES! Don't Be Deluded! You Are Not All Engineers? Could You Pass the Necessary Examinations to Run the Best Equipped Steam Plant in This City?

“Ask any practical engineer whether he would prefer running a large steam plant to a small one; he will tell you that the larger the plant, the more leeway he has, that a small plant requires much more attention; that things are liable to happen sooner. Placing it under the seat out of sight makes it still more dangerous.

“We Will Tell You the Truth, We Will Give You the Facts, not only about our automobiles, but about all the others. Any make of electric vehicle is safe, also any gasoline vehicle without steam. With either of these two types of vehicles you are without FIRE HEAT AND STEAM, and these are carriages which ladies and children can operate.

“MAKES WE HANDLE. WOOD'S ELECTRIC CARRIAGES, the finest made, which we are selling to the best people in Rochester. The WINNER GASOLINE RUN-ABOUT which will be here very soon. The ORIENT 20th CENTURY VEHICLE which will carry you everywhere.

“Defer placing your order until you have seen our line. Telephone 84 and we will CALL and take you for a ride. ‘Regas’ Vehicle Co., 66 EAST AVENUE. Do not overlook the fact that we carry a full line of HIGH-GRADE BICYCLES.”

On December 1, 1900 the Regas Vehicle Co. relocated to 72-80 West Main St., Rochester. The New Corporations column of the May 29, 1901 edition of the New York Times announced the official formation of the Regas Vehicle Co.:

“Regas Vehicle Company of Rochester: capital $25,000. Directors – J. Harry Sager, Cora B. Sager, and George D. Green, Rochester.”

Sager also developed his own motor bicycle, three of which were entered in a September 1901 New York-Buffalo Endurance Run, the September 11, 1901 issue of The Horseless Age recording the list of entrants of which Nos. 87, 88 and 89 were Regas Motor Bicycles of 1 ½- and 2 ½-hp, piloted by J.H. Sager (no. 87, 1 ½-hp), G.D. Green (no. 88 2 ½-hp) and Warren L. Stoneburn (no. 89 1 ½-hp). The death of President McKinley ended the race prematurely at Rochester instead of Buffalo and the September 18, 1901 issue of the Horseless Age noted that none of the Regas Motor Bicycles made it past Albany, with only 41 of the original 89 entrants making it to the premature finish in Rochester. The top finishers were all automobiles, and within two years Sager would began manufacturing his own automobile.

The March 29, 1902 edition of the Democrat & Chronicle announced the debut of the Regas ‘Spring Frame’ bicycle:

“A Valuable Bicycle Invention.

“Two well-known Rochester men, J. Harry Sager and George D. Green, have just been allowed patents on a very important and valuable bicycle invention that will in all probability revolutionize the bicycle industry. It is a spring frame which makes the modern wheel as comfortable as the most luxurious carriage, without adding much cost, no visible mechanism and scarcely any extra weight to the popular graceful, up-to-date modern bicycle. Fully three-quarters of all the bicycle manufacturers have adopted the device and shipments have been made to foreign countries. Undoubtedly this will add another large manufacturing industry to Rochester. These improved bicycles may be seen and ridden at the ‘Regas’ Vehicle Co., Nos. 72 and 80 Main street west, who are manufacturing and supplying bicycle manufacturers this spring frame device, which is known as the ‘Regas’ spring frame, name ‘Regas’ being derived by spelling Sager backwards.”

A display advertisement in the April 29, 1903 edition of the Democrat & Chronicle reveals the Regas Vehicle Co. was liquidating their stock of bicycles in order to concentrate on ‘manufacturing and wholesale trade’:

“Clearance Sale – Bicycles

“We have decided to close out our retail business, confining ourselves to manufacturing and wholesale trade exclusively. Therefore, we offer our entire stock of bicycles at greatly reduced prices. This is a genuine clearance sale which begins at once and is confined to our present stock of ‘Regas Bicycles.’ Come quick if you need a bicycle. Cash or time. Inducements for cash. Every bicycle fully guaranteed. A few good second-hands cheap. ‘REGAS’ VEHICLE COMPANY, 80 Main Street West. Up One Flight. OPEN EVENINGS UNTIL EVERY WHEEL IS SOLD.”

In July of 1903, Sager reorganized the Regas Vehicle Co. as the Regas Automobile Co., a firm primarily funded by Thomas B. Dunn, founder and president of the T.B. Dunn Co., a well-known Rochester-based manufacturer of perfumes, extracts and most famously ‘Sen-Sen’ brand licorice-flavored gum and breath mints. Sager served as president; Dunn, vice-pres., and the operation moved into a large brick structure located at 45-47 South Ave., Rochester. The New York Incorporations column of the July 30, 1903 edition of the New York Times announced the formation of the Regas Automobile Mfg. Co.:

“Albany, July 29. – Incorporated to-day:

“Regas Automobile Company, Rochester: capital $100,000. Directors – J.H. Sager, T.B. Dunn, and C.E. Bowen, Rochester.”

The July 31, 1903 edition of the Democrat & Chronicle reported the news to Rochesterians:

“COMPANY INCORPORATED - Regas Automobile Manufacturing Company Filed Papers With County Clerk.

“Articles of Incorporation of the Regas Automobile Company were filed yesterday with the County Clerk. The capital stock is given as $100,000, divided Into 1,000 shares of $100 each. The purpose for which the company is formed is the purchase, manufacture, sale, and dealing in automobiles, and all kinds of vehicles or conveyances operated by mechanical power, with all things incidental. The directors are J. Harry Sager, Thomas B. Dunn, Carroll E. Bowen and Robert C. Kershner, of this city, and L. Louis Willard of Binghamton.”

The News and Trade Miscellany column of the August 8, 1903 issue of The Automobile announced the new firm to the nation:

“Organized to Make Waterless Runabouts

“The Regas Automobile Mfg. Co., of Rochester, NY, has been incorporated with $100,000 capital stock for the purpose of buying, manufacturing and selling automobiles and accessories. The directors are J. Harry Sager, Thomas B. Dunn, Carroll E. Bowen, and Robert C. Kershner, of Rochester and L. Louis Willard, of Binghamton, NY. The company has no connection with the Regas Vehicle Co. which will retire from business, and the Regas spring frame for bicycles, which has been marketed by that concern, will still be manufactured by J. Harry Sager.

“The new Regas Automobile Mfg. Co. is ready to begin the business of manufacturing and marketing exclusively gasoline automobiles fitted with air-cooled motors, with which all of its vehicles will be equipped. A light touring car will be built fitted with detachable tonneau seats and driven by a two-cylinder air-cooled motor of 4-inch bore by 5-inch stroke. The design will be modern and the engine mounted vertically under a hood at the front.”

In addition to manufacturing automobiles, Sager was also interested in politics, the October 26, 1903 issue of the Democrat & Chronicle lists him as a candidate for the New York State Assembly, 3rd District on the Prohibition Party ticket. His home address at the time was 53 Lake View Park, Rochester.

The first Regas automobile was a small, single-cylinder 7 hp air-cooled runabout on a 72-inch wheelbase chassis which sold for $750 in 1903, and the December 5, 1903 issue of the Automobile included a listing of the New York and Chicago Automobile Show participants, both of which would include the Regas Automobile Co. as an exhibitor.

For 1904 the Regas grew into a 12hp air-cooled V-twin on a 81-inch wheelbase chassis that was offered as a touring or runabout for $1500; a 20hp air-cooled V-4 on a 86-inch wheelbase was also available. The Regas included a Marble-Swift friction transmission, a ‘Bunsen-tube’ type cooling system rather like the Knox but of Sager’s own design, and shaft drive. Sager’s unique air-cooling system was eventually awarded a US patent, albeit 6 months after he had let the firm:

“Means for Cooling Heated Surfaces; US patent No. 775,860, filed October 14, 1902 awarded November 22, 1904 to James H. Sager and George D. Green, and assigned to the Regas Automobile Co.”

The January 7, 1904 issue of The Motor World reviewed two of the firm’s 1904 models they had seen at the New York show. Regas was one of the numerous firms exhibiting at Madison Square Garden for the first time:

“Regases from Rochester – Two Attractive Air Cooled Cars Incorporating Some Interesting Features

“Two interesting additions to the growing family of air cooled cars are being placed on the market for the 1904 season by the Regas Automobile Company, Rochester, NY. Model B is the light car being furnished with a detachable tonneau with side entrance, seating four persons. With the tonneau removed the car is transformed into a Stanhope runabout, seating two persons. The second car is known as Model G, and is a touring car, having a tonneau body with side entrance and seating five persons.

“As the higher powered and more ambitious product, the touring car, Model G, merits first attention. Its power plant consists of a four cylinder vertical engine, placed vertically in front under a bonnet. These cylinders are 4 inches by 5 inches and are cast in pairs, one pair being placed behind the other. This engine develops 20 horsepower at a speed of 1,000 RPM. There is one crank to each pair of cylinders, and, of course, two flywheels. Splash lubrication is employed, fed by a sight feed automatic lubricator. The inlet valves are automatically operated the pipes being 1 ¼ inch in diameter, while the exhaust pipes are 1 ½ inch. Jump spark ignition is employed, and the engine speed which, ranges from 300 to 1,000 RPM, is controlled by both throttle and sparking advance.

“The transmission is of the individual clutch type, giving three speeds forward and reverse. Each gear is independent of the other, and all are operated by a single lever. All gears are constantly in mesh, running in oil bath. There is no noise and no possibility of stripping or sticking. The drive is by shaft with forged universal joints from engine to transmission, and double chain drive direct to rear wheel. The brakes are applied by bands on each of the driving wheels.

“The cooling system is both novel and effective. The cylinders are straight cast-iron tubes surrounded by perforated sheet steel jackets, through which project slotted copper tubes, flanged at cylinder end and producing both radiation and circulation, as the hot air passing out of the tubes draws cool air in through the slots. There are 150 of these perforated copper tubes to each cylinder, 1 5/8 inches long by 1/2 inch in diameter, twenty two gauge. One end of the tube is flanged and shaped to fit contour of cylinder, to which they are held rigidly by the perforated sheet steel jacket surrounding the cylinder through which the tubes project.

“The frame is made of angle iron, trussed. Full elliptic springs front and rear are used together with artillery wood wheels, and 30 inches by 4 inches Fisk detachable tires. Wheelbase 86 inches, tread 56 inches. Solid square axles front and rear. Hyatt roller hearings in all four wheels. Transmission gear and differential in one all tight case.

“Two mufflers are fitted, one for each pair of cylinders. These are very efficient and are claimed to do away absolutely with back pressure. Wheel steering is used, the steering column being joined and hinged forward.

“As stated, the entrance to the rear of tonneau is from the side, the front seat being thrown forward. Three persons can be comfortably seated here, in addition to two in the individual front seats, which are hinged, lifting forward. The seats are leather trimmed with brass beading around the tops.

“The smaller car, the Model B, is similar to the G in its main features. It is fitted with a two cylinder vertical engine, however, developing 13 horsepower at 1,000 RPM and 15 horse power at 1,200 RPM. These cylinders are 4 ½ inches by 5 inches, and are cooled in the same manner as are those of the touring car, 160 instead of 150 copper tubes being attached to each cylinder.

“The wheel base is also shorter in the Model B, viz.: 80 inches, while the wheels are fitted by 28 x 3 ½ inch Fisk tires.”

The January 21, 1904 issue of Motor World detailed the numerous manufacturers who were exhibiting at the 4th annual New York Automobile Show.:

“Regas Automobile Co.

“Regas Automobile Co. show a single car with several novel features. First of all, the entrance to the tonneau is secured by throwing forward either half of the divided forward seats which are hinged, with a portion of the side panel of the body rising with the seat. A double cylinder air cooled engine is used with the cylinders set ‘V’ section. Each cylinder is covered as to the body part with a steel jacket, completely filled with perforations through which are inserted tubular copper radiating members. The tubes are each indented, the displaced metal being forced into the tubes. The theory is that the tubes radiate externally as well as internally, the air being freely circulated through and about the tubes. The engine heads and castings for the valves are flanged to secure increased radiation. The change gear is of the sliding type, giving two speeds forward and one reverse. A double drive is used to each of the driving wheels.”

The January 23, 1904 issue of The Automobile covered the firm’s exhibit at the New York Automobile Show:

“Regas Automobile Company

“A motor of original and striking design and an ingenious side entrance to the tonneau are features of the Regas car, which was shown for the first time. The motor which is made both with two and four cylinders has a particularly novel appearance, both on account of the position of the cylinders, which are set V-shaped on the crankcase, but also on account of the long hollow cooling tubes with which they are studded and which give them a curious porcupine effect. Projecting from each cylinder are 172 perforated copper tubes, 1 ½ inches and one-half inch in diameter, which not only present a large amount of radiating surface but also provide circulation, the hot air passing out of the ends of the tubes drawing in cool air through slots in the tubes near where they are inserted into the cylinders. The tubes are flanged and shaped to fit the contour of the cylinder to which they are held rigidly in place by a perforated sheet steel jacket. This device is claimed by its makers to be the first instance in which both radiation and circulation are obtained without mechanical means.

“The side entrance tonneau has practically the same appearance as the ordinary tonneau except for the absence of the back door giving a long comfortable back seat. Entrance is obtained by tipping forward either of the individual front seats, which are separately hinged to the body on their front edges. When tipped forward each seat carries with it a semi-circular portion of the side of the tonneau, making an entrance which is easily reached by two steps, one in the usual position which also gives access to the front seats and the other at the height of the frame and directly opposite the tonneau entrance. The rear fender is curved to pass under the upper step and is partly supported by it. The entire device is both practical and ornamental.

“Other features of the Regas car are as follows: Angle iron frame full elliptic springs, solid, square axles, Hyatt roller bearings in all four wheels, individual clutch transmission, three speeds forward and reverse, spur gear differential, shaft drive to transmission, chain drive to rear wheels, Loomis float-feed carbureter, Loomis muffler, Brown-Lipe steering gear. Wheel base of two-cylinder car is 80 inches, of four-cylinder car, 86 inches; tread of both is 56 inches. The two-cylinder motor develops 12 horsepower and the four-cylinder motor gives 20 horsepower.”

Automobile Review’s technology editor E.W. Roberts provided the following overview of the Regas in the January 30, 1904 issue of the magazine:

“A Practical Review of the Progress in Automobile Design and Manufacture as Exemplified at the New York Show By E.W. Roberts

“The Regas

“The Regas Automobile Co. of Rochester, NY, have a new proposition in air-cooled engines, the cylinder walls being studded with a number of copper tubes perforated at the sides and carrying a draft of air through them, much on the principle of the Bunsen burner. The cylinders are placed at an angle of about 60 degrees and both connecting rods of one pair drive the same crank-pin. In the four-cylinder engine two of these pairs of cylinders are coupled. The car is furnished with a friction drive transmission or with a selective clutch system, at the option of the purchaser.”

Another item in the same issue (apparently not written by Roberts) provided an overview of the car and mentions that 5 examples were on display at the New York show:

“The Story of the New York Automobile Show – part II

“The Regas Automobile Co. - The Regas Automobile Co., Rochester, NY, exhibited five cars. Their models are particularly attractive. The 2-cylinder motors set V-shaped under the hood, are easily accessible and are cooled. The lubrication is a pressure system, there are automatic meet valves and a speed of 300 to 1,200 revolutions. The body is large and roomy, with side entrance produced by tilting the front seat forward. This is a new feature in automobiles.”

In the same issue Roberts provided a few more details, broken down by model:

“Regas Automobile Company, Rochester, NY.

“Model ‘B.’ light, four passenger tonneau; side entrance gasoline; motor of four cycle type; two upright cylinders; 4 ½ x 5 cylinder, set V-shape to give room for circulation between them, cylinder air-cooled by 172 perf. copper tubes 1 ½ inch long by ½ inch diam.; automatic inlet valves; 12 hp; 3 speeds forward and 1 reverse; automatic inlet valves; speed 300 to 1,200 rpm, giving 12 hp; throttle and spark control; individual clutch transmission; weight 1,500 lbs., price $1,500.00.

“Model ‘C.’ four cylinder touring car tonneau; 4 upright cylinders 4x5 air cooled; generating 20 hp; speed 300 to 1,000 rpm; controlled by throttle and spark; wheel base 86 inches; tread 56 inches; the hood and body longer than model ‘B’; wheel steering, sliding gear transmission; 2,000 lbs., price $2,000.”

The February 4, 1904 issue of the Automobile Review mentions that Regas was amongst the firms that were slated to have an exhibit at the Chicago Show, which commenced February 6, 1904. The following two issues of the same publication, which was based in Chicago, included articles on the automobile, the first being the February 13, 1904 issue:

“Regas Automobile Co., Rochester, NY

“Side entrances and air-cooled motor are leading features of the Regas model B four-passenger touring car. This car is one of the new side entrance vehicles at the show, and its makers deserve commendation for being pioneers in this excellent method of entrance and exit. Their air-cooling device consists of perforated sheet steel jacket, through which are placed 172 perforated copper tubes. The jacket with the tubes is then placed over the cylinder, to which it fits closely and gives perfect contact. With these tubes, ample radiating surface, both inside and outside of the tubes, is obtained, and the perforations draw in and cool air as the hot air passes out. This system is founded on the well-known theory of the Bunsen burner. Air cooling permits of machining the cylinder inside and out, and so giving cylinder walls of even thickness, which admits of perfect expansion.

“The side entrance to the tonneau is effected on either side by tilting front seats. This model has 28 inch wheels, 3 inch tires, individual clutch transmission, 80 inch wheel base, Loomis carburetter, spur gear differential, chain drive, and powerful hand brakes on each hub.

“With reference to air-cooled engines the Rochester Gas Engine Co. have conducted several experiments along this line. They have run a 3 ½ x 3 ½ inch air-cooled engine at 1,000 revolutions per minute for four hours consecutively in a warmly heated room, without the cylinders becoming unduly heated. This experiment speaks volumes for the possibility of air in automobiles where air current is constantly obtained.”

“The Regas Automobile Co Rochester NY - The product of this company was described in my report of the New York show. However, Mr. Sager showed me an improvement he has made in the method of attaching the small cooling tubes to the cylinders, which enables him to attach them to the heads and the valve boxes as well. This certainly should improve the efficiency of his unique cooling system.”

The February 27, 1904 issue of the Automobile Review provided a much more detailed overview of the 1904 Model ‘B’ and ‘C’, presumably written by its technical editor, E.W. Roberts:

“The Regas Air-Cooled Models for 1904

“The Regas Automobile Company of Rochester, NY, have two models for this season’s trade. Model ‘B’ is a light four passenger tonneau car fitted with a two-cylinder vertical air-cooled motor located under the hood, which is capable of generating over 12 horse power. The side entrance is a feature of this model as it is also of model ‘C’.

“Model ‘C’ in general design is similar to model ‘B,’ but has a wider tonneau with room for three, and has a four-cylinder vertical motor with cylinders mounted in pairs, one behind the other, making a very compact and powerful engine. Model ‘C’ has an 86-inch wheelbase and 56-inch tread, and model ‘B’ has an 80-inch wheelbase and standard tread. Both of these models are replete with improvements that are in the van in their respective classes, noticeable among which are the air-cooled motors, in which fans are not needed, and the side entrance tonneau with access obtained by tilting front seats. The materials used throughout are of the best procurable, and upon these has been expended the highest grade of American workmanship. The general design of these cars compares favorably with anything on the market, and at all of the recent auto shows they came in for searching analysis and a great many commendations.


“The air-cooled engines are the most characteristic portion of the Regas cars. These motors are constructed in two sizes, the two-cylinder and the four-cylinder one. In the two-cylinder engine the bore and stroke are 4 ½ and 5 inches respectively, and in the four-cylinder variety the dimensions are four and five inches. Both of these are of the twin-cylinder class and are mounted vertically in front under the hood, and are set V-like to permit of as free air circulation as possible. Each cylinder is covered with a steel jacket through which are inserted tubular copper radiating members and the engine heads and castings for the valves are deeply flanged to assist radiation.

“Steel Jacket

“In air-cooled motors the radiating members must offer the greatest possible radiating surface and the metal used must be of the highest radiating quality. In the Regas the steel jacket which fits tightly to the cylinders is provided with 172 perforated copper tubes 1 ½ inches long and ½ inch in diameter, which serve to break up the heat generated by the rapid explosions in the cylinders. These tubes in themselves provide an extra-large amount of radiating surface, but in addition create air circulation; for when the hot air passes out of the ends of the tubes it draws the cool air through the perforated slots, which is the same system as that used in the well-known Bunsen burner. The copper tubes have shoulders on the end next to the cylinder which keep them in constant contact with the cylinder walls. The hot air passing out must necessarily draw cool air in, and this induced air circulation obviates the necessity of a fan or blower of any description. The cylinders being angularly mounted with ample space between them prevents the possibility of pocketing the air and also leaves a wide opening for natural circulation.

“The two connecting rods work on one crank between two flywheels inside an aluminum case, giving splash lubrication to both cylinders. The inlet valves are automatic and very accessible, and the exhaust valves are directly below them and can readily be removed when the inlet ones are out. The engine speed varies from 300 to 1,200 revolutions, generates over 12 horse power and is controlled by both spark and throttle.


“A carburetter made specially for these motors is used. It is of the Loomis type, float feed, and by its automatic construction gives a powerful and constant mixture at all rates of speed.


“The Loomis muffler, which is proof against back pressure, is employed and the vehicles have wheel steering with Brown Lipe steering gear, 14-gallon gasoline tank under the rear seat, brass side lamps, horn, tools, and an option of Marble Swift friction transmission if desired.


“The individual clutch type of transmission gives three speeds forward and one reverse. All gears are constantly in mesh and run in an oil bath within an oil tight case. Each gear is independent of all others and all are operated by a single lever, which admits of simple and quiet change of speeds. Any change of gear from high to low or vice versa can be instantly made at any time regardless of the speed of the car, and there is not the danger of stripping gears or loss of power.

“The Differential

“The spur gear differential is integral with the transmission and the drive from the motor to the transmission is by universal joints and from the transmission to each rear wheel through powerful individual chains. The brake system consists of a very strong band brake on each rear wheel.


“The side entrance tonneau marks this model as a leader in its class. The rear entrance has the objection common to all rear entrances, that of small individual tonneau seats that are of necessity small in order to permit of easy entrance. In the Regas car the entrance is accomplished by the tilting of either of the front seats as shown in one of the illustrations. A portion of the body raises with the seat and enables any one, large or small, to enter the tonneau comfortably from either side of the car without unfastening any bolts, locks or catches of any kind. The hinges at the edges of the front seats allow them to be tipped forward easily and steel pins on the bottom of the seats enter the recesses in the body and so hold the seat securely and eliminate all rattle and noise that might arise.

“This body design combines that of the surrey and tonneau and obviates the disadvantages of both. In appearance it is identical with the popular up-to-date tonneau with the objectionable narrow back door not in evidence. The tonneau has a long comfortable back seat, which enables the occupants to face forward and does not compel them to have to brace themselves so as not to slide off the small corner seat. The continuous back makes a stronger, a roomier and a safer tonneau. It is easily detachable, and a lid provided, which gives the car a neat runabout appearance and allows ample carrying space for luggage, etc., a feature found on very few cars. The upholstering is of the best that can be had. The highest grade of leather is used; there are spring cushions in the backs and seats and a row of brass beading around the tops of all seats gives a most attractive finish.

“Running Gear

“A strong and durable running gear is a primary essential to the life of any car, if the wheel base is too short, the spring not of suitable strength or the axles weak, the general usefulness of the car is correspondingly impaired. In the Regas an angle iron frame well trussed is employed and the full elliptic springs in the front and rear give as easy a riding vehicle as can be had. The artillery wood wheels with 12 spokes in each are 28 inches in diameter and are fitted with 3 ½ inch detachable tires. Solid square axles are used in the front and rear, and all four wheels are furnished with Hyatt roller bearings.

“Air-Cooling Test

“Air-cooled motors come in for many doubts among the automobile public, and in order that the auto buyer and owner may have some adequate idea of what has been accomplished in the air-cooling line the following test was arranged:

“The Rochester Gas Engine Company of Rochester, NY, experimented with a two-cycle air-cooled motor fitted with the Regas tubular radiators and have given out these results.

‘“The engine we used was 3 ½ inches diameter and 3 ½ inch stroke, making 1,000 revolutions per minute, and we knew the difficulty would be to keep the engines properly cooled when making these rapid explosions. We made one test wherein the engine ran four consecutive hours in our warm steam heated testing room and believe there was no limit to the length of time we could have run it.’”

Although Regas had exhibited 5 cars at the National Automobile Show in New York City (January 1904) and at least one car at the following show in Chicago (Feb. 1904), several months later J. Harry Segar (as he preferred to be called) resigned from the company and its chief shareholder, Thomas B. Dunn, took over.

J.H. Segar is listed in the 1905 Rochester directory as a bicycle specialty manufacturer at his home address of 9 Brooklyn St. The 1906 directory lists a new firm, the J.H. Sager Co., spring makers, at the same address; J.H. Sager, president and Charles J. Iven, vice pres.,sec-treas. The 1907 Rochester directory provides a new address, 265 South Av., and a new product line, auto specialties. The firm remained at that address until 1918, when they relocated to 36 S. Water St. By 1920 the J.H. Sager Co. had moved to 138 N. Water St., remaining in business into 1929. Sager’s auto specialties business collapsed soon after the stock market crash and he relocated to the Rochester suburb of Scottsville, NY, where he ran a filing station right up until his passing in the mid-30s.

The Regas Automobile Company’s new president, Thomas Byrne Dunn, was born in Providence, Rhode Island on March 16, 1853. He moved with his parents to Rochester in 1858 where he attended public school and the DeGraff Military Institute. He founded the T.B. Dunn Co., 111 N. Water St., Rochester, which manufactured perfumes, extracts and Sen-Sen gum and breath mints. Dunn served as president of the Rochester Chamber of commerce from 1903 to 1906 and was appointed chief commissioner of the New York exhibit at the Jamestown (Virginia) Tercentennial Exposition during 1907. Dunn was elected to the NY State senate in 1907, becoming NY State Treasurer in 1908. In 1909 Dunn merged his company into, and became president of, the newly formed Sen-Sen Chicklet Co. which was capitalized at $6,700,000. He served as chairman of the Rochester Centennial Committee in 1912 and from March 4, 1913-March 3, 1923 served as the region’s US Congressman, with two terms as chairman of the House Committee on Roads. He was an alternate delegate to the 1920 Republican Convention and on July 2, 1924, the 71-yo passed away, just sixteen months after leaving Congress.

The February 1903 issue of Soap Gazette and Perfumer announced the recent election of Dunn as president of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce:

“THOMAS B. DUNN, first vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of Rochester, NY, was elected president to succeed Daniel B. Murphy who resigned because he could not give the office his time and attention. Mr. Dunn is president of the Thomas B. Dunn Company, perfumers, Rochester, NY, and is a progressive business man. The Dunn Company has purchased the old Homeopathic Hospital building on Monroe avenue (233 Monroe av.) and will erect a new plant there soon.”

Soon after Dunn assumed control of the company from Sager he enlisted William H. Birdsall to overhaul the firm’s air-cooled motorcars for the 1905 model year, the June 30, 1904 issue of The Motor Age reporting:

“Birdsall with Regas—W.H. Birdsall, who was formerly general manager and mechanical engineer of the Buckmobile Co., of Utica, N.Y., has become mechanical engineer of the Regas Automobile Co., of Rochester, N.Y.”

Birdsall came up with an all-new Regas with an air-cooled four on a 100-inch wheelbase with a three-speed sliding gear transmission.

The 1905 Rochester City Directory lists Birdsall (for the first time) as a mechanical engineer, with a work address of 45 South Ave. and a home address of 120 Chestnut St.

Thomas B. Dunn, who was the current president of the chamber of commerce gave a speech to the participants of the 1904 ‘Good Roads’ convention, the Oct. 20, 1904 issue of Motor Age reporting:

“TALKED FOR GOOD ROADS - Enthusiastic Advocates for Better Highways in New York State Get Together at Rochester

“Rochester, NY, Oct. 15 - Monroe county, in New York state, famous since the earliest days of cycling for its fine sidepaths, now takes the lead in good road construction. The county, of which the city of Rochester is the seat possesses some 240 miles of sidepaths for bicyclists, the riders being taxed 25 cents a year for a tag which permits them to ride on the paths. If the present plans are put through, in another 10 years the county will possess that many miles of good roads. The reason the cycle paths are given so much importance is the fact that the same men who worked so energetically for sidepaths are now pushing the good roads movement, foremost among these being Senator William W. Armstrong, of Armstrong baggage bill and Higbie-Armstrong good road law fame; the former compelling railroads in New York state to carry bicycles as baggage and the latter law which gives state aid in building roads.

“Last week a good roads convention was held at Rochester, the day sessions being held in the supervisors’ rooms in the county court house and the evening sessions in the chamber of commerce rooms, the convention receiving the hearty support and co-operation of both the board of supervisors and Rochester chamber of commerce. Speakers of prominence in the cause of good roads were present from all sections of the country. The manufacturers of good roads machinery and the publishers of good roads literature were also on hand to assist the project….

“Thomas B. Dunn, president of the chamber of commerce and incidentally one of the largest stockholders in the Regas Automobile Co., welcomed the delegates to chamber of commerce rooms and made a few remarks on the conditions he had encountered while automobiling. William C. Barry, a prominent member of the chamber who is also interested in an automobile factory, was next speaker in the evening session, and so favorable an impression did he make on his listeners that he was unanimously elected as president of the Monroe County Good Roads Association.”

The Nov. 24, 1904 issue of Motor Age listed Regas as an exhibitor at the upcoming 1905 New York (exhibition hall) and Chicago (main floor) Automobile Shows and the 'Minor Mention' column of the December 21, 1904 Horseless Age described it:

“The Regas Automobile Company, of Rochester, N.Y., expect to build a four-cylinder car for next year, equipped with a side entrance body.”

Birdsall’s overhauled Regas debuted at the 1905 New York and Chicago Automobile shows, however Dunn was disappointed in the firm’s prospects and pulled the plug on the money-losing operations soon after. Little mention of the firm or its vehicles would appear in the 1905 automobile trades save for the August 1, 1905 issue of Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal:

“Regas Four-Cylinder Air-Cooled Car

“Regas Automobile Co., 45-47 South avenue, Rochester, NY, are now on the market with their 4-cylinder gasoline car and we illustrate the same herewith. The cylinders are 4 ½ in. bore and 5 in. stroke and are cooled by the ‘Regas’ patent air cooling system. The engine is of the vertical type and develops 28 to 30 horse power. It is placed in front and drives through a 3-speed-and-reverse sliding gear transmission. The wheelbase of the car is 100 inches.

“They recently gave the car a very severe test, particularly the air-cooling system. On a sultry day with the thermometer at about 90, they drove the car from 11 AM till 9 PM, stopping only about an hour and a half for lunch, almost entirely on the high gear over roads in horrible condition from recent rains and a cloudburst which they encountered en route. Five passengers were carried and not the least sign of overheating did the engine show.”

At around the time that Thomas B. Dunn debuted the Birdsall-redesigned 30 hp 4-cylinder 1905 Regas automobile, its designer, William H. Birdsall was introduced to Samuel H. Mora (b. 1868 - d. March 5, 1918) who at the time was sales manager of the Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester, New York’s largest employer. It is entirely possible that Mora had purchased a Regas automobile, although evidence is lacking. Regardless, at some point prior to or during 1905 the two auto-minded men met and made plans to design and produce their own motor car.

By the time of Mora’s unanticipated departure from the Eastman Kodak Co., (late 1905/early 1906, the exact date unknown) he and Birdsall had more-or-less finalized the design of the first Mora automobile, which was unsurprisingly similar in appearance to the 1905 Regas. By that time Mora had already inked a deal with the Village of Newark, New York’s Board of Trade to furnish him a plant to build his self-named motor car. That story is covered on the Mora page. William H. Birdsall's career can be found on his own page.

There are no known Regas cars remaining.

© 2019 Mark Theobald for







Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark - Standard Catalog of American Cars: 1805-1942

Elizabeth Brayer - George Eastman: A Biography, pub. 2006

Shannon Perry - The Eastman Kodak Co. and the Canadian Kodak Co. Ltd: Re-structuring the Canadian photographic industry, c.1885-1910, March 2016 Doctoral Thesis, de Montfort University, Leicester, UK

John Zornow - Newark's Mora Motor Car Co.

Becky Weikert - Swigart Museum is a Trip Down Memory Lane Before Automaker Bailouts, May 22, 2009 edition of the Huntington Daily News (Penn.)

Automobile Quarterly – Vol 31 #3 - Templar

September 26, 2011 AACA forum/blog

1904 Regas Auto Catalog - Cars & Parts, Dec. 1969 issue

Bob Tomaine - Remembering Mora: Small New York automaker thrived a century ago - Autoweek, Oct. 22, 2006 issue

Bob Tomaine - 1908 Mora: Prolific in the Motor Department, Autoweek, Oct. 22, 2006 issue
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