Winton Model 17

Winton Model 17B
Winton Model 17
Winton Model 17
Alexander Winton was an immigrant from Scotland who, upon arriving to America, opened the Winton Bicycle Company. He had also worked on a steamship as an engineer.

The Winton Motor Carriage Company of Cleveland, Ohio is credited with being the first company in the United States to sell a motor car. The vehicles were termed 'horseless carriages' and included gas lamps, padded seats, and rubber tires made by the Goodrich Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio. Winton is credited with more than 100 patents.

In May of 1897, Winton created a ten-horsepower automobile that was able to achieve a speed of 33.6 mph on a horse track in Cleveland, Ohio. The engine was a one-cylinder, water-cooled, horizontal power plant. The transmission had two forward and one reverse seeps. It was controlled by the driver through two levers. The transmission is connected to a small shaft by chain and geared directly to a differential unit on the rear axle.

Soon after, an endurance run from Cleveland to New York City further proved the vehicle's durability and evolving status in the transportation marketplace.

By the close of the century, it was among the world's largest manufacturers of gas-powered automobiles. A dealership was established in Reading, PA, and operated by H. Koler to help with the sale and distribution of Winton Automobiles. His early success with selling vehicles was partly due to his accomplishments in racing and endurance challenges. He proved his vehicles were capable, competitive, and durable.

In 1900 Winton entered a car in the Gordon Bennett Cup race in France. It would be the first American car to compete in a European race. Sadly, the car was sidelined when it experienced wheel failure.

Along with racing, he had the ability to promote his vehicles. He drove a 1901 Winton Prototype automobile to the first New York auto show in November. His other display cars were shipped via rail. The mud-spattered car that he had driven was placed on the Winton stand for all to see. A notice accompanied the car that he had beaten his time by nine hours from the year before. The muddy, dirty car attracted many interested buyers and onlookers and was one of the more ingenious displays of the show.

Alexander's quest for competition led him to create an automobile specifically prepared for racing, which he dubbed the 'Winton Bullet.' It was powered by a 492 cubic-inch four-cylinder engine that produced 57 horsepower. The vehicle immediately proved its potential by claiming numerous unofficial world records. On the newly paved Clifton Boulevard the 'Bullet' achieved 70 miles per hour. Another unofficial timed speed trial at the oval racetrack at Glenville had the Bullet averaging 55.38 mph.

The Bullet and its owner were now prepared for anything the competition could produce, or so they though. Defeat was again experienced in 1902 at the hands of Henry Ford's 'Old 999' which was carefully navigated by racing legend Barney Oldfield. The Winton was unable to complete the race as it broke down after only four laps. Winton went back to the drawing board and later emerged with a new, more powerful creation which he called the 'Bullet No. 2.'

Bullet No. 2 continued Alexander Winton's passion for racing and secured him a reputation as one of America's leading race car manufacturers of the early 1900s. In 1903 Alexander entered two cars in Europe's Gordon Bennet Race. His cars were the 'Bullet No 2' and 'Bullet No 3.' Alexander's first appearance to this race was in 1900 when he suffered a broken wheel which sent his car crashing into a ditch. The 1903 appearance also resulted in disappointment. The Bullet No 2 entered the race forty-minutes late due to ignition trouble. After 190 miles it left the race due to a clogged carburetor. Bullet No. 3 managed to complete 260 miles of the 363.4 mile race, but suffered a broken connecting rod and left the race early.

Both of these automobiles continued the tradition of the original Bullet, Bullet No. 1. These cars were specifically designed and built for racing. Bullet No. 3 was equipped with a powerful four-cylinder engine while Bullet No. 2 had a 'straight eight.' Two four-cylinder engines had been bolted together resulting in the first 'straight eight' cylinder engine. This had been done after the conventional way of creating more power by enlarging the displacement by increasing the size of the cylinders had proven to be unreliable. The Bullet No. 2 produced 80 horsepower and at the hands of Barney Oldfield captured many world records. Alexander Winton had made the decision to hand the duties of driving over to other individuals. He had a prosperous business and much responsibility; automobile racing was dangerous and there were few safety regulations which meant there were often tragic accidents. In 1905 at Glenville Bullet No 3, driven by Earl Kiser, was involved in an accident which left Kiser without legs. Barney Oldsfield was also injured in a crash. Alexander Winton withdrew for automobile competition completely. The public began demanding that all automobile racing be stopped until it could become safer.

During the Bullet No. 2's career, it set a world record for a mile track at 64.52 mph at the Empire City Track located in Yonkers, New York. At Daytona Beach in 1904 it set another record in the mile at 83.7 mph and 43 seconds. At Cleveland's Glenville Track during that same year is set another track record at 68.18 mph.

Six Cylinder Engine
The 'Six-teen-Six' was introduced in 1908 and powered by a six-cylinder engine. The name was a play on words for the company's 16th model. The six-cylinder engine was cast in pairs and produced 48 horsepower. A total of four bodystyles were available, all were mounted on a 120-inch wheelbase. The cost to own was between $4,500 to $5,750.

For 1909 the 48 horsepower car became a Model 17 and would remain in production for five years. It was joined by a Model 18 which had a 130-inch wheelbase and a 60 horsepower engine. The Model 17 now featured seven body styles consisting of six open cars and a limousine. The price had dropped, now ranging from $3,000 to $4,650. The Model 18 had two open styles, a limousine and a landualet. The price was from $4,500 to $6,000.
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007


Vehicle information, history, and specifications from concept to production.