Formed out of a previous company (Autocar Equipment Co) Continental Motor Manufacturing Co. came into being on the 14th February 1905, and was primarily a manufacturer of engines for cars and trucks. A move to Muskegon, Michigan followed in 1906, and the company's facilities grew rapidly, with employee numbers increasing even more quickly. Early engines were sold to car and truck makers, as well as stationary engine applications and private users.
Engine production increased steadily, with four and six cylinder side-valve engines being the mainstream product, although straight-eight engines were also produced as early as 1925, with an OHV engine.
Spring 1927 saw the first radial engine being announced, a nine-cylinder engine with sleeve-valves developing 220hp at 1800rpm. The company had taken out a licence for the sleeve valve on the Burt-McCollum principle, and proceed with various engine designs using that design principle. 1929 saw the announcement of the A-70 aircraft engine, this time using conventional poppet valves instead of the sleeves which had given so much trouble.
The R-670 followed, based on the R-70, which was followed by the W-670 fuel-injected engine in 1936.
The smaller four-cylinder engines were developed in the 1930's, starting with the A-40, a small L-head air-cooled four-cylinder engine. Followed by the improved A-50 in 1938, these early engines were to provide the base for Continental's successes in later years.
The HYPER engine project in WWII led to Continental being firstly involved with parts only, and then later on as a main contractor to the US Govt. The engine was to be a dead-end for both Continental and the US Govt., although millions of dollars were spent on the engine through more than one sub-contractor.
The R-670 engine had become used in a ground application, and was to be used for tank propulsion both during and after WWII as the W-670. A Wright design, the R-975 was also made by Continental for use in tanks.. Merlin engines were also produced under licence at the Getty Street plant in Muskegon.
The first 6-cylinder flat engine was produced in 1945, while the Wisconsin Engines subsidiary was producing small air-cooled engines for industrial applications, and Gray Marine was producing marine power plants.
The company continues today, still manufacturing air-cooled engines for light aircraft and military vehicles.