On this day in auto history – May 30th

Sun 30th May 2021

It was on this day in 1897 that pioneering manufacturer, Alexander Winton, demonstrated the first American-built automobile.

The Scottish immigrant, originally a marine engineer, had recently founded the Winton Motor Carriage Company and astonished onlookers by exhibiting a hand-built vehicle which reached a top-speed of 33 mph around a Cleveland horse track.

Though the speed was a notable achievement for the day, Winton’s short, stubby vehicle, which housed a single cylinder 8 horsepower engine, remained the subject of much scepticism over its durability. To counter this, Winton had his car undergo an 800 mile endurance run which it completed successfully.

Over the following two years more than 150 hand-built Wintons were sold - many to upscale customers, including the elite Vanderbilt family - making the company the largest manufacturer of gasoline-powered automobiles in the United States.

The motor carriage company traded successfully into the 1920’s but Winton concentrated solely on engine production from 1924 onwards and became a subsidiary of General Motors in 1930.