'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 same 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. There can be no doubt that the Winton Runabout's successful transcontinental trip helped to increase public confidence in the automobile as a practical and reliable means of transportation.
Winton's twin-cylinder automobile had many interesting and unusual features. The engine was centrally located, driving an unusual two-speed transmission with a separate clutch for each speed and chain drive to the rear axle. The gears were in constant mesh but driven only when one of the clutches was engaged, so the driver of a Winton always had 'clash-less' gear selection. A similar principle is used in current Formula 1 'dual clutch' gearboxes; yet another example of there being nothing new under the sun in automotive design. The same lever system that selected the gearbox clutches also engaged the brake band on the final drive sprocket. There were also contracting-band brakes on the rear wheels, applied by a foot pedal.
The 5¼"x 6" bore/stroke engine displaced 260ci (approximately 4.3-litres) and had a rated output of 22hp using the Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers (ALAM) formula. A centrifugal pump circulated cooling water around the engine and through a radiator located under the bonnet at the front of the car. Additional water was carried in a dual compartment storage tank with fuel in the other compartment. Lubrication to both the engine and the gearbox was total loss, controlled by drip feeds and sight glasses.
The unique feature of Winton's engines was the inlet valves' actuation system, which controlled their lift using compressed air. The carburettors had no throttle control but Winton's system of controlling valve lift regulated the amount of air/fuel mixture admitted to the cylinders and therefore the speed of the engine. Engine speed was also adjusted by the driver's control of ignition timing.
The rear axle was suspended on full elliptical springs and located by trailing arms, while the front axle used semi-elliptical springs. Access to the two seats was facilitated by the right-hand steering column's hinge that swung the wheel out of the way.
The 1903 Winton Runabout offered here previously formed part of the celebrated collection belonging to the late Richard C Paine Jr and was exhibited at the Seal Cove Auto Museum in Maine, USA. It was purchased by the current vendor at Bonhams' sale of selected vehicles from the Paine Collection held at the Owls Head Transportation Museum, Maine in September 2008 (Lot 859). The Winton is offered from the owner's European private collection.
The ex-Paine Collection Winton is a duplicate of the Jackson/Crocker transcontinental model, one of approximately 850 Wintons built in 1903. Paine had acquired the car in the mid-1960s from the famous collection of Dr Samuel Scher, for whom it had been restored by Gus Reuter. The car is finished in light brown with a cream chassis, the latter lavishly embellished with striped decoration, while the seats are upholstered in black leather.
A single French BRC kerosene 'bull's eye' headlamp dominates the front, complemented by a pair of Gray & Davis 'Winton' badged kerosene sidelights, a Dietz kerosene 'Dainty Tail Lamp' and a trumpet bulb horn. The paint is cracking on the wooden body panels, and the chassis shows evidence of some significant use. The leather is good, and the brass has been maintained. Kept on static museum display for a number of years, the ex-Paine Collection Winton has the appearance of a car that has had some use since its restoration.
Following appropriate re-commissioning, this powerful Winton would make an excellent London to Brighton car, capable of getting the fortunate new owner to the finishing line early enough to enjoy watching the later arrivals. Accompanying documentation consists of an old US title deed and C&E Form 386 confirming EU duties paid.