Lange's mentor and friend passed the torch to him, and Josh continues designing and building in the spirit of the years they worked by each other’s side. For more about Tom Meade and our work together see the article by Ferrari historian, Larry Crane, at www.thomassima.com.
A quote from Crane's article, "Tom shared his mother’s modest apartment until she passed, then, alone again and filled with ideas for his next car, slowly filled it with pieces for Thomassima IIII including one of the fabulous 333 SP V-12 engines that had more to do with F1 than sports car racing. He died in 2014 with the drawings and a growing number of pieces for his next dream coming together with the help of another talented young designer, builder, Josh Lange, who continues to work toward completion of Tom’s last dream car, Lange now calls Thomassima IIII Lacrima Rossa (Red Tear, his recognition of Tom’s last great struggle). The design includes a carbon fiber chassis with seats molded into the tub, much like the Thomassima II. The instruments will be multi-level, multi-functional and hand made like most of the car’s details. An aluminum body to Tom’s careful design will follow the Meade tradition. While a close friend of Tom for the last few years of his life, Lange shares the obsession and devotion to the last testament of Tom Meade".
Tom Meade's spirit animal for his Thomassima cars Lange cast in dicroic leaded crystal. This photo was take in the Cypress Room of The Lodge at Pebble Beach, where Lange unveiled his Thomassima IIII project to Jim Glickenhaus and Paolo Garella. Many finished pieces, as well as a fifth scale model of the body and one of the tub were featured.
Josh Lange stands by Tom Meade's side, as he did for the rest of the Thomassima IIII Ferrari powered build. This photo was taken at the Wednesday Westwood Ferrari meeting held in Tom's honor where he and Josh met. After Meade had a ride in the Pangea (in red) he hired Josh Lange to manage and build his Thomassima IIII Ferrari powered supercar.
Thomassima IIII Ferrari powered supercar, a continuation of Tom Meade's last Thomassima.
This is dedicated to my good friend and mentor, Tom Meade, an amazing artist and designer.
Four years of knowing and working by the side of the great Tom Meade, from 2009 to 2013, on the Thomassima IIII (Tom did not use the traditional IV Roman numeral) Ferrari-powered supercar build, gave Josh Lange the chance to work with one of the greatest designers to grace Ferrari and Maserati. Together, Lange and Meade designed all aspects of the Thomassima IIII in a daily collaboration as Josh made Tom's ideas a reality. From small details, to a composite ground-up tub, Meade and Lange worked together until the very end, to bring the Thomassima IV to life. Josh was Tom's secret weapon, as Tom went to great lengths to keep his protege' a secret from those who might tempt him away to work on higher profile projects. Tom's loss of his Ferrari and Maserati skilled craftsmen in Italy years before had taught him a valuable lesson.
It all began on May 17, 2009, on Josh Lange's first night back in Los Angeles, when he met Tom Meade by pure chance, or fate, at the weekly Westwood Village Ferrari meeting held in Tom's honor. As Lange walked by on his way to dinner, the glimpse of a stunning rim on a laptop stopped him in his tracks. He then introduced himself and stated that he was in Los Angeles to promote his hand-built, 1960's era Ferrari-inspired supercar, the PangeaTM. Meade then spoke up and declared, “I’m Tom Meade!" and that was his Thomassima IV rim. Lange had just connected with the last living legend and genius of 1960’s Italian race car design, a man who earned the equivalent of a PhD from Medardo Fantuzzi and went on to quickly leave his own mark on Ferrari and Maserati racecar history.
Shortly thereafter, Josh took Tom for a ride in his hand-built supercar, the Pangea. Tom was impressed by the 700hp one-off, with the fit, finish and sophistication of a supercar. He commented on how solid it felt and that it didn't have the squeaks and noises many one-offs were known to have. Meade appreciated the quality of Josh's work, and admired the flowing forms he had created so much, that he hired Lange on the spot. Meade hired Lange to re-design, re-engineer, and fabricate a shapely carbon tub using Lange's proven proprietary techniques and materials. In fact, Tom told Josh that he wanted the shapely and "flowing like water" surface he saw in Lange's Pangea, for his tub. The tub that had already been designed and built, which Tom hired Josh to replace, was all straight lines and flat surfaces, to Tom's dismay.
The first pieces Lange created for Tom Meade's Thomassima IIII, were the windshield buck and the a-pillar plug which Lange sculpted primarily out of balsa wood. Lange went on to replace Meade's previous tub builder and tub engineer, a glass and crystal artist, rim makers, sculptors, painters, fabricators, etc. From casting jewel-like leaded crystal taillights, to vacuum bagging carbon parts, and guiding the build of the Thomassima IIII, Meade grew to rely on Lange almost entirely. It was a relief to Tom to know that the project was finally in good hands because he had encountered so many problems with those he tried to work with before he met Lange. Together, Meade and Lange made fast progress on the project and it was a very exciting time for both of them.
Josh Lange also agreed to build the all new body for the Thomassima IIII and other projects, after he had won Tom's complete trust through years of giving him great results. Tom took satisfaction in witnessing Lange's meticulous proprietary techniques for one-off composite fabrication and shaping. The surface detail and all new shape of his cars, each different, was crucial to Tom, who always wanted to be innovative. Tom had originally planned a hand-hammered aluminum body, due to the inevitable print-through and resulting texture of standard carbon fiber material, a well known issue. Lange's specialization in sculpting and then building one-off vacuum bagged race parts with a "better than factory" appearance, changed Tom's plan.
Lange and Meade thought alike and were more similar than anyone Tom had worked with since Fantuzzi. Daily collaboration between Tom and Josh had brought many of Tom's designs to completion and surpassed his high expectations. So, it was only natural that Josh would be trusted to build and help design Tom's bodies. Tom highly valued collaboration with Lange, whose design, fabrication and engineering input had become crucial to the project and its progress. Lange always made sure the job was done right and was always looking for a way to make improvements. As Larry Crane said at a recent lunch with Lange and his wife, Tom told him "I finally have someone who is getting things done."
Lange and Meade grew close in the four years that they knew each other and worked together. They spent long days planning and building Tom's car. Tom became like a father to Josh, often going beyond his role as a mentor, as Josh was the closest thing to family Tom had living in Los Angeles. They shared Thanksgivings, Christmases and Birthdays along with Lange's family.
Lange said, "Tom's tail lights are a great example of how things generally worked out. Tom had paid very good money to a variety of glass and crystal workers and still had no tail light lens that you could even seen through, they were opaque, with zero light penetration. They tried hand blowing the lenses and then Tom came up with fusing them as a solution. The last and fairly rough glass versions of these were done by a well-known crystal worker, whom I replaced. The lenses were not being cast or fused properly with surface flaws. Since I had been casting with molds for years in other materials, I suggested to Tom that we should get a kiln and I should make the lenses myself. I also showed Tom special techniques, all by hand, that I could use to create added visual interest. My droplets design worked in harmony with Tom's organic shape to really pop, in a flowing way, like water. When I lit the red LEDs in the assembly for Tom for the first time, it was truly amazing. Tom's pride and joy had come to life and it was even better than he had imagined. I also engineered and fabricated the bucket assemblies so the tail lights could be bolted in easily".
Lange continues, "Once I took over the tail light aspect of the build, there was no other lighting company involved. It was not unusual for Tom to see if outside vendors could do better than I could out of his need for finding the latest innovations. I even encouraged it. In the end, however, Tom always wound up coming back to my alternative. I came through with the best solutions and fabrication methods for Tom, and he appreciated that very much. I was working on refining the crystal lenses and buckets of our final prototypes, as well as the tub fabrication and more, until my last day of work with Tom, right before he was hospitalized. " Tom passed on August 1, 2013, with Lange at his bed side.
For the last few years of his life, Tom Meade found joy in his side by side collaboration with Josh Lange as he saw many pieces theThomossima IIII finally completed. As his in-house fabricator, project manager, engineer, designer, and sculptor, Lange did almost everything for Meade. Meade passed the Fantuzzi DNA of designing car bodies to Lange as they worked closely together on the Thomassima IV build. Josh Lange's understanding and appreciation for detailed craftsmanship and organic shapes was nurtured by Tom Meade, just as Medardo Fantuzzi had done with Tom in Italy, years before.
After the passing of Tom Meade, Lange took some time off, cleared his slate, and continued his work on the Thomassima IIII build. Lange has invested over 5,000 hours designing and engineering a body and tub that utilize aerospace materials that even surpass what he had planned for Tom's car. Many final one-off parts have been completed such as the seats, mirrors, shift knob, and other components. The Thomassima IIII Le Mans tub-based chassis will be used as the base platform for future cars from Lange Concepts, LLC.
above: Detail shots of taillight lenses from Thomassima IIII. Lange and Meade worked on this design from August 2011, until days before Tom' passing on August 1, 2013. Lange's droplet design brought the leaded crystal lenses he cast to life. Meade and Lange shared a love for the organic forms of nature.