The History of the WARN Belleview Winch
Written: April 10, 2013
by Andy Lilienthal
It's fair to say that our WARN M8274 winch is probably our best-known product. It's been around since 1974, and continues to be a favorite among off-roaders around the world. You can read the history of the M8274 on one of our blog posts. However, there was a WARN winch before this iconic unit. That winch was the WARN Belleview.

The Belleview winch was originally made by Belleview Manufacturing, a company that did a lot of fabrication and machine work for Warn Industries in the early years. This is back when Warn made all kinds of things, such as beer keg tops and taps, parts for Boeing aircraft, motorcycle parts, and even axles for mail carrier carts. But Belleview Manufacturing had never commercially marketed the winch. Eventually, Thurston Warn (son of founder, Arthur Warn), bought Belleview Manufacturing, and started to sell the Belleview winches under the Warn name.

WARN Belleview Winch on a Willys CJ2 Jeep
Previous to the Belleview winch, people would use PTO (Power Take-Off) winches on their Jeeps. For a PTO winch to work, the engine has to be running. However, when you take a carbureted vehicle, such as an older Jeep, on steep incline, the engine can stall due to fuel starvation. So, a PTO winch plus a stalled engine means your winch won't work. The fact that the WARN electric winch would work on at any angle was a big selling point for early off-road enthusiasts.

WARN Belleview M8000 flier, circa 1972
The first WARN Belleview winches were called Model 6000, or M6000. But it was later discovered that the M6000 could actually pull 8,000 lbs., so the name was eventually changed to the M8000. As you know, we still offer a winch called the M6000 and M8000, although it's a modern, low-profile winch.

But unlike the winches we offer today, the Belleviews did not have features we expect on a modern self-recovery unit. For example, the Belleview winches did not have an automatic brake; they had a cable-actuated brake that was operated from within the vehicle's cabin. In addition, these winches only powered in; there was no power-out function.

Warn replaced the Belleview winches with the M8200 but only for a couple of years. The M8200 looked like a combination of the older Belleviews and the more modern M8274. In 1974, Warn introduced the M8274, which has the automatic brake, powers in and out, and has more durable components. As you know, it's still available today.

You can still find Belleview winches for sale at places like swap meets and craigslist. Warn does not have many parts for them anymore, but the 4 Wheel Drive Center of Minnesota is a good source for Belleview stuff.

So although Warn Industries' first products were hubs, the Belleview was the product that put Warn on the vehicle recovery map, and we continue to offer trustworthy, innovative products that allow users to "Go Prepared."

WARN Belleview winches on display at Warn Industreis


Tags: winch,Belleview winch,Belleview,history
Filed under: Truck/Jeep/SUV,Universal