The CLEVELAND DIESEL ENGINE DIVISION OF GENERAL MOTORS CORP., a leading research facility in the development of diesel engines, began operation in Nov. 1912 as the Winton Gas Engine & Mfg. Co. at 2116 W. 106th St. Founded by Cleveland automobile manufacturer ALEXANDER WINTON, the plant first produced the marine gasoline engine Winton designed, but later Winton adopted a diesel engine developed in Europe as an alternative and built the first one in 1913. When the firm was renamed the Winton Engine Works in 1916, it manufactured diesel engines for a variety of marine craft and government vessels. Later the firm produced engines for locomotives. In 1928 Geo. W. Codrington replaced Winton as president of the company, which then became the Winton Engine Corp. in 1930, when it was bought by GM. Its name officially changed to the Cleveland Diesel Engine Div. of General Motors Corp. in 1938.
During the 1930s, a new, lighter-weight diesel engine with more speed and flexibility had been developed. By 1939 98% of the company's business was work performed for the government. In 1941 Cleveland Diesel expanded its plant, employed 5,000 people, and produced the new diesel engines for an estimated 70% of the navy's submarines during World War II. Employment dropped to 1,000 in 1947, but expansion began again in the 1950s with the acquisition of plants at 2160 W. 106th St. and 8200 Clinton Rd. However, in the next decade, the navy needed fewer diesel engines with the development of atomic-powered submarines, and GM closed the Cleveland plant in 1962, combining its operations with facilities in LaGrange, IL.