The Big Car Database


The Winton Motor Carriage Company was a pioneer United States automobile manufacturer based in Cleveland, Ohio. Winton was one of the first American companies to sell a motor car.

Former type

Automobile Manufacturing
Industry Automotive
Genre Touring cars, limousines
Founded 1897
Founder Alexander Winton
Defunct 1962
Headquarters Cleveland, Ohio, United States

Area served

United States
Products Vehicles
Automotive parts



Scottish immigrant Alexander Winton, owner of the Winton Bicycle Company, turned from bicycle production to an experimental single-cylinderautomobile before starting his car company. Winton owned a large lakeshore estate in Lakewood, Ohio. In the mid-1960s the home was demolished and an upscale high rise condominium was constructed aptly named Winton Place.


The company was incorporated on March 15, 1897. Their first automobiles were built by hand. Each vehicle had fancy painted sides, padded seats, a leather roof, and gas lamps. B.F. Goodrich made the tires for Winton.

By this time, Winton had already produced two fully operational prototype automobiles. In May of that year, the 10 hp (7.5 kW) model achieved the astonishing speed of 33.64 mph (54.14 km/h) on a test around a Cleveland horse track. However, the new invention was still subject to much skepticism, so to prove his automobile's durability and usefulness, Alexander Winton had his car undergo an 800-mile (1,300 km) endurance run from Cleveland to New York City.


Alexander Winton, in Cleveland, Ohio sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. On March 24, 1898, Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania, became the first person to buy a Winton automobile after seeing the first automobile advertisement in Scientific American. Later that year the Winton Motor Carriage Company sold twenty-one more vehicles, including one to James Ward Packard, who later founded the Packard automobile company after Winton challenged a very dissatisfied Packard to do better. Winton sold 22 cars that year.


In 1899, more than one hundred Winton vehicles were sold, making the company the largest manufacturer of gasoline-powered automobiles in the United States. This success led to the opening of the first automobile dealership by Mr. H.W. Koler in Reading, Pennsylvania. To deliver the vehicles, in 1899, Winton built the first auto hauler in America.

One of these 1899 Wintons was purchased by Larz Anderson and his new wife, Isabel Weld Perkins. It is still on display at Larz Anderson Auto Museumin Brookline, Massachusetts.


Publicity generated sales and in 1901 the news that both Reginald Vanderbilt and Alfred Vanderbilt had purchased Winton automobiles boosted the company's image substantially. That same year, Winton lost a race at Grosse Pointe to Henry Ford.


Type Engine(Horsepower) Wheelbase
Runabout 2-passenger 1-cylinder(8 hp) N/A
Touring 4-passenger and Mail Delivery Van 1-Cylinder(9 hp) N/A


Winton vowed to come back and win, producing the 1902 Winton Bullet, which set an unofficial land speed record of 70 mph (113 km/h) in Cleveland that year. The Bullet was defeated in another Ford by famed driver Barney Oldfield, but two more Bullet race cars were built.


In 1903, Dr Horatio Nelson Jackson made the first successful automobile drive across the United States. On a $50 bet, he purchased a slightly used 2 cylinder, 20 hp Winton touring car and hired a mechanic to accompany him. Starting in San Francisco, ending in Manhattan, the trip took sixty-three days, twelve hours, and thirty minutes, including breakdowns and delays while waiting for parts to arrive (especially in Cleveland). The two men often drove miles out of the way to find a passable road, repeatedly hoisted the Winton up and over rocky terrain and mud holes with a block and tackle, or were pulled out of soft sand by horse teams. Jackson's Winton is now part of the collections at the National Museum of American History.


The 1904 Winton was a five-passenger tonneau-equipped tourer which sold for US$2,500. By contrast, the Enger 40 was US$2,000, the FALUS$1,750, an Oakland 40 US$1,600, the Cole 30 and Colt Runabout US$1,500, while the (1913) Lozier Light Six Metropolitan started at US$3,250, American's lowest-priced model was US$4,250, and Lozier's Big Six were US$5,000 and up.


Type Engine HP Wheelbase Transmission
Touring-5p. Two-Cylinder 20 94.5" 2-speed sliding-gear
Touring-5p. Four-Cylinder 24 104" 2-speed sliding-gear

Winton's flat-mounted water-cooled straight-2, situated amidships of the car, produced 20 hp (14.9 kW). The channel and angle steel-framed car weighed 2300 lb (1043 kg).


Model Engine HP Wheelbase
Model 20 Six-cylinder 48.6 130"

Winton continued to successfully market automobiles to upscale consumers through the 1910s, but sales began to fall in the early 1920s. This was due to the very conservative nature of the company, both in terms of technical development and styling. Only one sporting model was offered - the Sport Touring, with the majority of Wintons featuring tourer, sedan, limousine and town car styling.


Model Engine HP Wheelbase
Model 40 Six-cylinder 70/72 132"

End of production

The Winton Motor Carriage Company ceased automobile production on February 11, 1924. However, Winton continued in the marine and stationary gasoline and diesel engine business, an industry he entered in 1912 with the Winton Engine Company.

Sale to General Motors

Winton Engine Company became the Winton Engine Corporation, a subsidiary of General Motors, on June 20, 1930. It produced the first practical two-stroke diesel engines in the 400 to 1,200 hp (300 to 900 kW) range, which powered early Electro-Motive Corporation (another GM subsidiary) diesel locomotives and U.S. Navy submarines. A Winton 8-cylinder, 600-horsepower (447 kW), 8-201-A diesel engine was the motive power of the revolutionary Burlington Zephyr streamliner passenger train, in 1934 the first American diesel-powered train. That part of Winton devoted to the manufacturing of diesel locomotives in 1935 became part of the Electro-Motive Corporation (later the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors), and provided 201 series engines for rail use until late 1938, when the EMC designed 567 series engines were introduced. Successor Electro-Motive Diesel, or EMD, is still in business today.

1936 and beyond

By 1936 Winton was producing engines only for marine, U.S. Navy, and stationary applications. GM reorganized the company in 1937 as the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors. Cleveland engines were used widely by the U.S. Navy in the Second World War, powering submarines, destroyer escorts, and numerous auxiliaries. After the war the Winton designed engines were gradually replaced with similar sized EMDs. The Cleveland Diesel Engine Division closed in 1962.