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Who invented the semi-trailer?

Do you know who invented the semi-trailer? In Cleveland, Ohio, Alexander Winton invented the semi-trailer in 1898. He sold his first trailer just one year later in 1899. Early on he was an automobile racer and an engineer before inventing the semi-trailer.

Alexander Winton invented the semi-trailer in 1898.
Alexander Winton invented the semi-trailer in 1898.

Winton was born in Grangemouth, Scotland. His father (also named Alexander) was a marine engineer, and young Alexander followed in his father’s profession. He emigrated to the United States in 1879. For three years he worked at Delameter Iron Works, and for two years thereafter as a marine engineer on ocean vessels.

The Winton Motor Carriage Company factory covered 13 acres and employed 1200 workers in 1903.
In 1891, he founded Winton Bicycle Co., and in 1897 he founded the Winton Motor Carriage Company. His cars were custom made; in 1898 he sold a car for $1000.[2] In 1901, Henry Ford defeated him at a race at Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

Winton invented the world’s first semi-truck in 1898 and sold his first manufactured semi-truck in 1899. When he first started manufacturing cars, he wanted to be able to ship them directly to customers without putting any miles onto the product. He therefore developed a car hauler for use by his company, but soon was selling these car haulers to other manufacturers. This is the first instance of a semi-trailer truck product.

The Winton Motor Carriage Company grew rapidly after the turn of the 20th century. In 1902 three buildings were built, and four more were added in 1903. The company employed 1200 workers in 1903.

Winton was an important member of Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturer (ALAM), an organization originally formed to challenge the litigation of the fledgling automobile industry by George B. Selden and the Electric Vehicle Company.

Winton was a prolific inventor, with over 100 patents in the field of motor cars and engines. He also had several important bicycle inventions. He was known for allowing free use of his patents when a question of safety was involved.

Racing Career

1903_Gordon_Bennett Winning Race
Winton was a pioneer in recognizing that racing was a primary means to promote his automobile business.

Winton was a pioneer in recognizing that racing was a primary means to promote his automobile business, both because of the public attention these races garnered as well as the focus on technical innovation.

One of his first famous races was against Henry Ford, which he lost in 1901. In 1902 he built the first of three custom race cars, all three of which he called the ‘Bullet’. Bullet No. 1 was the first car to win a sanctioned race at Daytona Beach, Florida. Bullet No. 2 was built for the Gordon Bennett Cup in Ireland in 1903.

It was one of the first 8-cylinder automobiles ever built. It suffered mechanical difficulties and did not complete the race, although after being brought back to the United States Barney Oldfield drove it to a near-record 80 miles per hour (130 km/h) at Daytona. Winton retired from racing, but built a Bullet No. 3 which Oldfield raced around the United States in his famous career.

Reference: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Winton