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The History of Evinrude Outboard Motors

The first commercially successful outboard motor was designed and manufactured by Ole Evinrude. Apprenticed in machine factories in the Midwest, he studied engineering on his own time and eventually created his first outboard motor, a 1-1/2 horsepower, 62-pound iron engine that helped make boating accessible to more people. It featured a horizontal cylinder, a vertical crankshaft, and a drive shaft with direction-changing gears housed in a submerged lower unit. In 1920, he improved upon his own design with the ELTO (Evinrude Light Twin Outboard), which was quieter and 25 lbs. lighter than his first model. Later, Evinrude released an even lighter version made of aluminum that could put out double the horsepower. Evinrude outboard motors were highly successful for decades and were even used by the U.S. military during World War II and beyond. While the company no longer produces new motors (company leadership announced that Evinrude would exit the outboard motors market in 2020), Evinrude outboard motors are still beloved by many boaters and fishermen today.

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