Winton Motor Carriage Company

Scottish immigrant, Alexander Winton, came to Cleveland in 1884. In 1891, he established the Winton Bicycle Co., and in 1896, after two years of experimentation in the basement of his home, developed his own hydrocarbon engine, and completed his first motor carriage. Two years later, in space rented in the Brush Arc Lamp factory, Alexander Winton sold America’s first production automobile. Prior to that time, manufacturers of horseless carriages built automobiles to meet the specifications of the customer. Winton’s first production run consisted of twenty-two automobiles.

Brush Arc Lamp Factory at  Belden and Mason streets (East 40th and Commerce Streets
Brush Arc Lamp Factory at Belden and Mason streets (East 45th and Commerce Streets
1899 Winton Phaeton - Property of the Western Reserve Historical Society Crawford Auto Collection
1899 Winton Phaeton – Property of the Western Reserve Historical Society Crawford Auto Collection

The first automobile of the original production run was purchased for $1,000 by Robert Allison, a mining engineer from Port Carbon, Pennsylvania. Today, that historic automobile is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The twelfth car in that 1898 production run was purchased by James W. Packard of Warren, Ohio

100 cars were built in 1899, and sold for $2,000 each. The Pheaton (above), in the collection of the Frederick C. Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society is one of them.

Winton Motor Carriage Company Factory at Berea Road & Madison Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
Winton Motor Carriage Company Factory at Berea Road & Madison Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

The company soon out-grew its rented space, and built a factory at Berea Road and Madison Avenue. The factory was surrounded by a test track. History was made in 1903 when Dr. H. Nelson Jackson and his chauffeur, Sewell K. Crocker  completed the first transcontinental crossing, from San Francisco to New York, with a stop at the Cleveland factory along the Way. That historic 1903 Winton is also in the collection of the Smithsonian.

Beneath Peeling Paint is the Names of  Workers at the Winton Factory
Beneath Peeling Paint are the Names of Workers at the Winton Factory
Original Elevator Inside the Winton Factory
Original Elevator Inside the Winton Factory
The Motor that Still Drives the Elevator More than 100 Years Later
The Motor that Still Drives the Elevator More than 100 Years Later
An Original Door Separating Sections of the Winton Factory
An Original Door Separating Sections of the Winton Factory
Foremen's Office Above the Factory Floor
Foremen’s Office Above the Factory Floor

It is ironic that the Winton Motor Car Co. (so named after the company was reorganized in 1915), having pioneered the production manufacture of automobiles in the United States, found itself unable to compete with the mass-production of Henry Ford, and the company closed in 1924. By that time, Alexander Winton had become involved new directions. In 1912, Winton formed the Winton Gas Engine & Mfg. Co., to produce marine engines, and the following year, produced America’s first diesel engine. Alexander Winton sold the engine business to General Motors in 1930, and it was renamed the Cleveland Diesel Engine Division of General Motors Corp. in 1938.

6 thoughts on “Winton Motor Carriage Company”

  1. I grew up on the west side and lived in Lakewood when I was in my 20’s. I used to pass by this building all the time and never knew (until now) what it was. Thanks again for the history lesson!

  2. My mother moved to Lakewood in 1939,and dated one of Alexander Winton’s grandsons. As she knew nothing about Winton or his companies,she could not impart any information about them.

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