The company was incorporated on March 15, 1897 by Scottish immigrant, Alexander Winton, owner of the Winton Bicycle Company. Their first automobiles, called "horseless carriages," were built by hand and assembled piece by piece. Each vehicle had fancy painted sides, padded seats, a leather roof, and gas lamps. The Goodrich Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio made the rubber tires for Winton cars.
By 1897, Winton had already produced two fully operational prototype automobiles. In May of that year, the 10 horsepower model achieved the astonishing speed of 33.64 mph on a test around a Cleveland horse track. However, the new invention was still subject to much skepticism and to prove his automobile’s durability and usefulness, Alexander Winton had his car undergo an 800 mile endurance run from Cleveland to New York City.
On March 24, 1898 Robert Allison of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania became the first person to buy an American-built automobile when he bought a Winton after seeing an advertisement in Scientific American. Later that year the Winton Motor Carriage Company would sell twenty-one more vehicles. The following year, more than one hundred Winton vehicles were sold, making the company the largest manufacturer of gas-powered automobiles in the United States. This success led to the first automobile dealership being opened by Mr. H.W. Koler in Reading, Pennsylvania. To deliver the vehicles, in 1899 the innovative Winton company built the first auto hauler in America.
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.
In 1903 Horatio Nelson Jackson made the first successful automobile drive across the United States in a new Winton.
Winton continued successfully through the 1910s marketing automobiles to upscale consumers.
The first part of the 1900s saw dozens of new automobile companies starting up. Rapid innovation and intense competition led to the end of production by Winton in 1924. However, Winton continued in the marine and stationary gasoline and diesel engine business, an industry he had entered in 1912 with the Winton Engine Company. It became the Winton Engine Corporation, a subsidiary of General Motors on June 20, 1930. It produced the first practical 2-stroke-cycle diesel engines in the 400-1,200 HP range, which powered early Electro-Motive Corporation (of GM) diesel locomotives and Navy submarines. That part of Winton devoted to the manufacturing of diesel locomotives in 1935 became part of the Electro-Motive Corporation--later a Division--of General Motors, and is still in business today. By 1936 Winton was producing engines for only the marine, Navy, and stationary applications. GM reorganized the company in 1937 as the Cleveland Engine Division of General Motors, and closed it down in 1962..
For information on other vehicles see: List of automobiles.