Rollin White was the son of Thomas White, the man who had built a respectable business producing washing machines, small machines, bicycles, roller skates, and other products. Rollin was an engineering student at Cornell who displayed a passion for the automobiles. After graduating from college he went to Europe to study their automobiles, designs, and techniques. Upon his return to the United States, he began producing automobiles powered by a steam boiler that he invented. The vehicles were originally sold under the White Sewing Machine Company. As the business expanded, his brothers, Windsor and Walter joined the company and helped with the building of the steam powered cars. Production progressed rather well. Steam powered vehicles were popular due to their quiet operation, smooth ride, and excellent performance.
Thomas White passed away in 1914 and shortly thereafter, Rollin left the company. He spent his time away from the company recovering from what he described as ill health. Upon recovery he produced farm tractors under the company name of Cleveland Tractor Company. His product, the Cletracs became well known throughout the world and another successful business venture spearheaded by Rollin prospered. In 1923 he again focused his attention on automobile production. He created the Rollin Motors Company and established himself as the chairman. The vehicles that were produced were rather ingenious, being one of the first to utilize four-wheel brakes. The wheels were comprised of solid disks which replaced the wooden-spoke artillery wheels. The quality and affordable price helped drive interest in the vehicles.
During the 1924 model year, the Rollin Company produced over 3660 cars. A year later, sales slowed to just over 2000 examples. Due to declining sales, bankruptcy, and stiff competition from other companies, the Rollin factory was forced to close its doors forever. Rollin focused his attention to his tractor business. In 1944 the tractor factory was merged with the Oliver Corporation. In 1960 that corporation was purchased by White Motor, a company that had been created by Rollin White.By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2006