'The Winton is generally regarded as America's premier make of petrol car,' noted The Autocar in 1903 on encountering the first example of the two-speed, chain-driven, 20hp model to be exhibited in Britain. Indeed, the Winton had secured itself a unique place in American motoring history that year by being the first automobile driven across the United States from coast to coast. This unprecedented feat had been achieved by Dr H Nelson Jackson and his chauffeur/mechanic Sewall K Crocker, who left San Francisco on 23rd May and arrived in New York City on 26th July. Their 63-day journey took them through many communities that had never before seen an automobile and involved crossing many miles of track-less hinterland where streams had to be forded.
Built during 1904, the final year that Winton offered a twin-cylinder model, chassis number '3227' is similar to that transcontinental pioneer. Uniquely, it spent around 70 years in the same ownership and only came to the market in 2006 for the first time since the mid-1930s following the death of its devoted long-term owner, Robert N Stormont, a well-known figure in the antique car world.
Robert Stormont first encountered the Winton in the mid-1930s as a boy of 16 while exploring a former Budweiser brewery in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois, which had been bought by his father to accommodate his new laundry and dry cleaning business. Left behind by its owner, the Winton was purchased for its scrap value of $50, the money being borrowed from Robert's father.
The car was then restored by its teenaged owner as and when funds became available. At this time the 'collector car' movement was in its infancy (the Antique Automobile Club of America was founded at around this time, in November 1935) and Robert Stormont's was one of the very first Edwardian-era cars to be preserved in the USA. Over the years the Winton and its owner became well known on the antique car scene, participating regularly in the USA's London-Brighton counterpart, the 125-mile New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run. '3227' is believed by the president of the US Winton Club to be one of only seven 1904 Wintons remaining out of the 600 that left the company's Cleveland, Ohio factory that year, not all of which are running.
The current vendor purchased the Winton at Bonhams & Butterfields' sale at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in May 2006 (Lot 322). While researching its history, Bonhams & Butterfields spoke with various officers of 'Winton Worldwide' who confirmed that, while restored, 'The Stormont Car' is widely known for its exceptional originality and correctness and is accordingly very highly regarded.
Since Mr Stormont's passing, the car has undergone extensive mechanical refurbishment. It has received new pistons, con-rods and a Phoenix crankshaft to ensure smooth running of the engine, while the complex carburettor and pneumatic system employed by Alexander Winton has been modified to achieve a simpler and more reliable running procedure. The vehicle also benefits from the fitting of a discrete but removable electric starter. Since this work has been completed the car has successfully finished a number of London to Brighton Runs with five adults on board. All removed parts are supplied with the vehicle and can easily be reinstated. The Winton is currently fitted with an almost new set of black-walled tyres and tubes (the American whitewall tyres accompany it).
An original 1904 manual; a pair of very old goggles; the car's original ID plate; sundry restoration receipts and photographs; several New London to New Brighton Run programmes and finisher's medals; and various clippings relating to this car and to Winton history are included in the sale also. There is even a photograph of the Winton when it was new in Rockford a century ago. Parts offered with the car include extra hubcaps; engine castings; and surplus leather from the upholstery restoration together with the original leather pieces that were used for patterns. There is also an original tyre, and the car's toolbox contains a copy owner's manual, a hubcap spanner and other items. A famous and well-documented example of one of the USA's premier pioneering makes, '3227' comes with C&E Form 386 confirming EU duties paid.