Over a hundred years of innovation.


100 years ago, the Evinrude name first became synonymous with America’s passion for boating. Ever since that landmark day when Ole Evinrude rowed to fetch ice cream for his love, the Evinrude brand has been pushing the boundaries of what boats and marine engines can do.


Evinrude is the name that boating enthusiasts turn to and trust. As Evinrude reflects on over a 100 years of innovation and success, we are setting our sights on another century of industry wide leadership.


In 1882, Ole Evinrude’s family immigrated to Wisconsin, where the story of Evinrude Outboards began. Ole had always been inspired by the water, and at age 15, he built his first boat. By 1900, Ole had left home to pursue his passion, first working at a machine shop where he built his engines in his spare time while living in a boarding house in Milwaukee.


During a romantic picnic on the island of a Wisconsin lake one hot summer day, Bess Cary tells her fiancé, Ole Evinrude, that she’d love a dish of ice cream. While rowing back to shore for his fiancée’s cold treat, sweat dripping from his brow, Ole decides that this trip would be a lot easier if his rowboat had a motor. Ole and Bess are married and in 1907 Ole and Bess Evinrude’s only child, Ralph Sydney Evinrude is born.


Ole Evinrude builds the first commercial model of a “Detachable Row Boat Motor.” After a successful test run on the Kinnickinnic  River, Ole ordered enough parts to build 25 engines. A few weeks later, a shop employee takes one of the engines to Pewaukee Lake for a spin. When he returns he hands Ole cash for the motor and orders for 10 more.


In an effort to bypass slow winter sales, Bess begins working on an international business plan. Within days of a meeting with a large export firm, the Evinrude Motor Company receives an order for 1,000 motors. An international brand is born. By 1913, Evinrude sells 9,412 motors in one year.

Evinrude Motor Company


Introduces patented battery-less flywheel magneto ignition as an option. This was an integral part of the motor, and eliminated the need for a battery and coil t o start it.Bess's health takes a turn for the worse and Ole decides to sell the Evinrude Motor Company to spend time with his family.


Bess enjoys better health. She and Ole get back into the outboard business. Using the $35,000 they have left in savings, they form Elto (Evinrude Light Twin Outboard) Outboard Motor Company. Two years after unveiling the Elto Ruddertwin, the company is selling 3,500 motors annually. Elto Outboard Motor Company introduces the first production outboard with Ole Evinrude's patented through-hub exhaust. This is an industry standard today.


Ralph Evinrude, a college sophomore, successfully convinces his father to build more than a fishing motor. Subsequently, the Super Elto Quad, an 18-hp motor with speeds of more than 35 mph, is unveiled at the New York boat show. Thanks to the Super Elto Quad, Elto overtakes Johnson Motor Company as the speed king of outboard motors.


Briggs & Stratton purchase the Evinrude brand and reinvigorate the company by infusing $400,000 for improvements. Stephen Briggs buys the Evinrude brand from Briggs & Stratton and creates Outboard Motors Corporation (OMC) by joining Elto, Evinrude and the race engine manufacturer, Lockwood Motors. Ole is named OMC's president.


Evinrude features the first electric start outboard motors and rubber mounts are introduced to cushion the motor agaisnt excessive vibration.




Ole's wife and long time business partner, Bess, passes away due to illness.


Ole lays the foundation for sleek, quieter outboards with two “hooded” models to provide full protection to engine parts and reduce noise. Automatically retracting " recoil" starter is offered as an option for the first time.

July 12, 1934

Unable to recover emotionally from the death of Bess, Ole Evinrude dies 14 months later at age 57. Twenty-seven-year-old Ralph Evinrude takes the reins as the new president of OMC.


The Evinrude 1.5-horsepower, single-cylinder Sportsman engine rolls off the line; it includes the first reed valves in the industry and pushes sales to 17,432 motors, nearly twice as many as in 1934.


1939 - 1945

During the war years, subcontracting is done with the U.S. government for defense contracts. The war-era work helped forge new ground in precision die-casting for the company. These orders also ensure that the Evinrude brand will be in a position to quickly ramp up outboard motor production at the war's end.



As post war material shortages ease and soldiers return home, Evinrude enjoys record sales. By 1947, 262,000 engines are being produced, equaling the combined production of the 14 other outboard makers in the United States.


Construction begins on a $3 million, 213,000 square-foot plant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Dubbed the most modern and efficient of its kind, the new plant produces 800 Evinrude motors during a two-day shift.


To meet consumer demand, Evinrude Starflite, a V-type four-cylinder engine, was developed. The Evinrude brand subsequently sells 153,105 motors, with an average of 14.7-horsepower per motor, a more than 11-horsepower jump from engines produced 15 years earlier.


The automatic choke is introduced on large Evinrude engines. The choke has a vacuum control that holds it in the open position while the engine is running, but allows the choke to close each time the engine is stopped. This allows instant starting whether the engine is hot or cold. Hu Entrops sets a new world record for unlimited class outboards by hydroplaning 114.65 mph with the Evinrude Starflite II model engine on the Evinrude Starflite III boat.


Hu Entrops sets a new world record for unlimited class outboards by hydroplaning 114.65 mph with the Evinrude Starflite II model engine on the Evinrude Starflite III boat. In September, the Evinrude Starflite II model engine breaks its own record by hitting a speed of 122.97 mph.


Evinrude pioneered an industry first with its introduction of push-button shifting on the 1962 Starflite 75 and Lark engines. The forward, reverse and neutral buttons made gear shifting smoother and easier, representing a significant improvement in outboard ease-of-use.


The Evinrude X-115 debuts. It is the largest rated horsepower engine ever produced. Its streamlined design features only 60 percent of the frontal area of typical motors in its horsepower range.