Reproduction of a photograph depicting inventor Alexander Winton driving a Winton automobile, manufactured in Cleveland, Ohio, on trip through the western United States, ca. 1914.
Scottish immigrant Alexander Winton was a bicycle manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio, in the late nineteenth century. By the mid-1890s, Winton became interested in designing an automobile. He built his first motorized vehicle in 1896. It looked rather strange by modern-day standards, as Winton used bicycle tires in his first design. He organized the Winton Motor Carriage Company on March 15, 1897, and on March 24, 1898, became known for the first commercial sale of an automobile in the United States.
Like many automobile manufacturers, Winton used races and cross-country tours to promote his product and test innovations in designs. The first cross-country automobile trip was completed in a Winton in 1903. In its first year of production, Winton's company built and sold twenty-two of his automobiles, and the following year the number climbed to more than one hundred. Winton became known for his innovations in automotive design, ultimately registering more than one hundred patents. He is credited with giving Henry Ford access to his own steering design before a race in 1901, which contributed to Ford becoming a major name in automobile design and manufacturing.
Although Winton was known as an innovator, as the automobile industry became more competitive in the 1920s, his business was unable to compete. Every Winton automobile was custom made. Assembly lines made other companies' vehicles less expensive to build. In 1924, Winton stopped producing automobiles entirely.