I’ll bet that most area folks and the populace of Clinton today do not know that Clinton cars were built in their town.
The Clinton Motor Car Company was an outgrowth from the Clinton Thresher Company located on King Street. Their foundry burnt to the ground in 1908 and was rebuilt as an automobile manufacturing company in 1911.Two men from Toronto by the name of S. B. Cleghorn and John Craig came to Clinton to organize the start up. They had been associated with a foundry there making car body parts.
Thomas and William Jackson , former owners of Jacksons Mens & Boys Wear on Rattenbury Street East got involved with this new company Other local people involved were W. J. Nediger, Fred Mutch, Bill Proctor and Matt Nediger, son of W. J.
By 1912 they were up to 80 employees. Most of the car parts were shipped in by rail from Toronto. In the trucks they used Hayward and Continental Engines.
The plant made a very stylish Touring car with sweeping fenders. The most unusual was the Clinton Combination car. It was actually a truck with no doors or top so it could be used for weekday hauling and on the weekends one or two seats could be installed for passenger use.
The local Priest, Father Hogan, used a Clinton Roadster to make his rounds, and Mrs Joseph Whitehead, wife of the Towns Mayor, purchased the first Touring car. It was chauffer driven for her by Newman Cluff.
The trucks were made in half ton to 3 ton size. At least 3 of these were purchased by the Connel Coal Co. of Sault Ste Marie and some were sold to various firms in Toronto as a result of the Clinton Car Co. display at an auto show there.
As it turns out, none of these vehicles made much headway sales wise. Only 8 passenger cars, mostly tourings were built. It is estimated that 16 trucks were built and sold.
By the years 1913-14 the Company was in financial problems and investors where wanting their money back. The last car assembled was a Roadster, by Clifford Whitmore who used up the leftover parts laying around in the building. His car was nicknamed the “red devil” because of its colour and the fact he was driving to Holmesville and back at a rate of 25mph. It was equipped with a Belnat Motor and was equipped with a starter and a generator. After the Plant closed W. J. & Matt Nediger operated a successful Garage business in the same building, for many years.
I would like to thank the late Vic Walden, car historian of Goderich who had interviewed Doris G. Batkin (Miller)now living in Huronview and who had a husband involved with the Clinton Car Company and knew all the details of its existence and hand wrote everything down on paper. Over 26 years ago Vic turned over all the writings to me saying I might want to publish a story about this sometime.