After serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Ordnance Corps during World War II, Lee Hunter returns home to St. Louis to open Hunter Engineering Company on Hunter Avenue in Ladue, Missouri.
Hunter Engineering, founded by Lee Hunter, has a rich history built on innovation and excellence.
Lee Hunter & Hunter Engineering
Hunter Engineering Company owes its beginnings to a discharged automobile battery. Lee Hunter Jr., a 23-year-old St. Louis architecture student, found himself frequently confronted with car battery failure in his Packard convertible.
When experts said it couldn't be done, Lee Hunter invented a way to quick charge automobile batteries. He then went on to build a highly successful company to manufacture and sell his other inventions that would soon after revolutionize the automotive service industry.
Today, Hunter Engineering Company designs, manufactures and sells a wide range of auto service equipment for a global market. Hunter products include PC- and Windows®-based wheel alignment systems, computerized wheel balancers, versatile tire changers, on- and off-car brake lathes, feature-packed vehicle lifts and money-saving inspection equipment.
Kwikurent, the world’s first rapid battery charger, reduced charging time from 24 hours or more down to less than an hour, eliminating the need to remove the battery from the car. It was a revolution in the industry that sold as fast as the company could build them.
Set out to shrink the design into a more compact form, Lee Hunter introduced the Rocket Special that included a dual-charge test meter that analyzed voltage gravity in 10 seconds and an 100-ampere output for maximum charging speed. It also operated on a more widely accessible 110-volt circuit.
Tune-In wheel balancer
The Tune-In wheel balancer, Hunter Engineering's debut product, is a revolutionary on-the-car balancer and Lee Hunter invention.
Form 8-T, produced in June of 1949, is the company’s first product brochure.
Sales & service team
Lee Hunter began assembling what would later become the largest dedicated sales and service team in the tire service equipment industry.
Sales Representatives become a driving force behind Hunter Engineering’s growth. Sales meetings and group photos become a Hunter tradition.
General Motors opens a plant in St. Louis to build the Corvette. This custom installation ensures every Corvette wheel is balanced using Hunter equipment.
Hunter Engineering develops the Lite-A-Line wheel alignment system. It soon becomes the industry standard.
Hunter develops multiple configurations of the Lite-A-Line system.
Hunter Engineering has a small but growing staff. Pictured here, the Engineering, Advertising, and Inspection departments all work side-by-side.
“Happy Hunter” was a staple in early Hunter advertising and training films.
The 1962 Annual Sales Convention was held in St. Louis.
Relocation & expansion
Hunter outgrows its original facility and relocates to a 23-acre campus next to St. Louis Airport. The location features new offices and manufacturing complex more than triple the size of the original.
After rigorous testing, Ford Motor Company names Hunter its sole supplier of alignment and balancing equipment.
Hunter alignment systems expand to cover heavy-duty applications.
Hunter continues to expand its presence at top industry trade shows in the United States and Canada.
The F-60 and F-70 Compute-A-Line systems were the industry's first dynamic wheel alignment systems. Adjustments could be made without moving the vehicle and while the wheels are turning.
Research & Training Center
The Hunter Research & Training Center opens adjacent to the company headquarters.
Rapid Series balancers
Hunter introduces the Rapid Series balancers, signaling the dawn of dynamic, off-car wheel balancing.
The S4 Electron-A-Line was the first electronic-metered system that featured electronic camber, caster and toe measurements, and electronic wheel runout compensation.
Ride Perfection Center
Hunter’s Ride Perfection Center in operation. The RPC relieved portions of the sidewall to reduce radial force variation.
Advanced alignment systems
The original Lite-A-Line system (left) is joined by the S5 Electron-A-Line, Tune-A-Line II, and Autron-A-Line series of aligners. Advanced Wheel Alignment systems become Hunter’s core focus.
Durant, MS manufacturing
Hunter opens a manufacturing facility in Durant, Mississippi, to accommodate demand for a growing product line. The area bordered in red shows the layout of the original 1976 facility.
Hunter’s S7 Electron-A-Line introduces the thrust-line principle to wheel alignment which becomes the foundation of modern four-wheel alignment technology.
Stephen F. Brauer appointed President, marking the first leadership change since Lee Hunter founded Hunter Engineering. Brauer guides the company into a period of rapid growth with the integration of new computer technology.
A111 wheel aligner
The first CRT display wheel aligner allowed technicians to see measurements on screen.
Sales & service meetings
A growing field organization attends the 1983 National Sales and Service Meeting from September 21-24.
Raymond, MS manufacturing
Construction begins on the new production facility in Raymond, MS, which opens the following year.
C111 wheel aligner
The C111 starts its production run in January 1985 with the aid of a little “Old Forester” — the traditional blessing of a new product.
Lee Hunter meets with Hunter’s Japanese distributor, Iyasaka Ltd., maintaining a strong partnership that began almost a quarter-century before, in the 1960s.
The first wheel-mounted sensors that process measurements on the sensor itself (a predecessor of the future DSP series sensors) provides fast, accurate alignment readings.
RL lift rack
The RL rack featured fully floating rear slipplates, air line kit, retractable work steps and built-in turnplate pockets.
The B400 computerized brake tester measures brake performance with a 4-minute drive-through process.
Hunter Service Center
The Hunter Super Service Center opens and serves as the main distribution center for replacement parts in the U.S.
WinAlign® recognized as the first Windows®-based vehicle alignment system.
Automotive Hall of Fame
Lee Hunter inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame where he shares the spotlight with industry giants such as Henry Ford, Louis Chevrolet, Walter P. Chrysler and Soichiro Honda.
The DSP9000 balancer is the first to use digital signal processing for unparalleled accuracy.
Truck Safety Center
The Truck Safety Center expands research, product development and technician training for heavy-duty vehicles.
P211 alignment system
The P211 is the first PC-based alignment machine, featuring Windows®-based WinAlign® software and DSP200 series sensors.
TC325 tire changer
The TC325 features Hunter exclusive “tulip” clamping system, ergonomic design and three-point articulated mounting arm – features found on many Hunter tire changers to this day.
DSP200 series sensors
The DSP200 and DSP250 series wheel alignment sensors become the industry standard, featuring infrared beams that link together to produce accurate alignment measurements.
BL500 brake lathe
The BL500 is the first brake lathe to offer Digi-Cal technology which instantly measures drum or rotor dimensions to help technicians determine total indicated runout.
411 series alignment system
The 411 Series Alignment System features industry-leading technology including the most advanced personal computing hardware.
GSP9700 wheel balancer
The GSP9700 offers a simulated road test to diagnose and solve non-balance related wheel vibration issues, transforming this wheel balancer into a wheel diagnostic center.
DSP400 camera sensors
DSP400 digital imaging sensors feature durable, easy-to-handle reflective targets. Four cameras in the aligner tower measure the position and orientation of each wheel-mounted target which instantly provide initial wheel alignment measurements.
The TC3250 features a tilted ergonomic design. With the addition of the “Plus” device, this versatile machine becomes Hunter’s most popular EMT approved tire changer.
RM lift rack
The innovative design of the RM lift rack allows easy service access through its split front design.
Four-Post lift racks
L421 (14,000 lb.) and L424 (16,000 lb.) alignment racks are introduced featuring longer slipplates than previous generations.
RX9 scissor lift rack
The RX9 alignment rack offers several popular features including an open front and rear design for easy service access, extra-wide 24" runways, integrated air line kits, and the option to mount the rack flush with the floor.
GSP9712 wheel balancer
Hunter Chairman, Steve Brauer, leads the traditional christening for the first GSP9712. The revolutionary wheel balancing system features industry firsts such as StraightTrak® which measures and corrects tire pull issues.
Hunter Deutschland GmbH
Hunter Deutschland GmbH opens. The office and training facility near Munich offers German car manufacturers the same engineering support available to U.S. manufacturers.
811 alignment system
The 811 aligner, combined with DSP600 digital imaging sensors and WinAlign® 7.0, features increased productivity, profitability and value. This system leads the industry for five years.
Designed specifically for heavy-duty applications, the DSP500T series alignment sensors offer measurement accuracy and repeatability never before seen in the heavy-duty industry.
Hunter Engineering’s state-of-the-art digital imaging alignment systems gain approval by BMW, Daimler Chrysler and the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG). Hunter remains the only alignment supplier with all three German automaker approvals.
Revolutionary SmartWeight® Balancing Technology is introduced. This patented balancing method improves wheel balancing results while minimizing the amount of corrective weight applied by the operator.
TCX500 series tire changers
The TCX500 family of tire changers are introduced. This group of table-top tire changer offers coverage for passenger car to medium duty vehicles. This line of changers will go on to become an industry staple and Hunter best-selling series.
The GSP9200 balancer is introduced. Though intended as a compact model, it is packed with advanced features including SmartWeight® laser line weight placement, auto double Dataset® arms, Spindle-Lok®, rim scan and Quick-Thread®.
Durant, MS 30 years
Durant, Mississippi, reaches a milestone and celebrates 30 years of fabricating and assembling Hunter lift racks.
The third generation GSP9700 improves on Hunter’s most popular model by featuring improvements such as a Linux operating system, color LCD monitor, thumb drive data port and the ability to have a custom logo on the welcome screen.
Using the new WinAlign® 10.0 software, the HawkEye® high definition digital imaging wheel alignment system is introduced with smaller, lighter sensors designed for speed and efficiency.
Auto34 tire changer
The Auto34 introduces a new level of control to tire changing with a simple control panel. Technicians are able to perform all operations without the traditional lever.
Hunter formally introduces the SmartWeight® balancer — a highly productive balancer designed for every shop. Fully-integrated with SmartWeight Balancing Technology® it also features many powerful options including a wheel lift, AutoClamp, a top dead center laser system, and a printer.
The L441 and L444 four-post lift racks provide 18,000 lbs of lifting capacity and the option of an open- or closed-front designs.
WinAlign® 11.1 features improvements such as new CodeLink® printouts and support for the DSP700 sensors. The TouchRemote® app for the iPhone® adds a new dynamic to WinAlign®.
HE421 HawkEye Elite® with TD targets introduced. True three-dimensional targets that eliminate metal to metal contact as well as the need to carefully center the target. This system proves faster, lighter, more durable and changes the way shops align vehicles.
Hunter China opens a wholly owned subsidiary office in Beijing China. The Chinese market is in a period of rapid growth and expansion.
Hunters Quick Check® system offers fast and accurate alignment checks right from the service drive. This system becomes one of Hunter Engineering's bestsellers and in record time.
RX lift rack improvements
The RX series of racks expands with the introduction of the RX16. The surface mount version sits at only 9” when lowered but with the innovative Power-Up feature, the rack changes its lifting point allowing it to maximize capacity.
DSP700T sensors are introduced to the Heavy-Duty market. These sensors allow for all three axles to be measured at the same time. Designed to mimic the accuracy and convince of the passenger car system, the Heavy-Duty world now has a lightweight, fast and accurate equivalent.
Raymond, MS expansion
Hunter’s Raymond, MS manufacturing plant expansion adds 66,000 square feet to include a state-of-the-art electronics facility to produce sophisticated electronic assemblies for many Hunter products.
Revolution™ tire changer
The Revolution™ is the industry's first reliable, computerized and automatic tire changer. The Revolution™ uses an automated process for all tire and wheel combinations which turns all technicians into experts. It has the distinction of being the world's first UL Listed tire changer and was completely designed and built in the USA.
With the tremendous growth in the Canadian market Hunter Canada moves into its new facility. The building features state conference rooms as well as a complete Power Bay modeled after the St. Louis, MO facility.
Tire health took center stage in 2015 with the introduction of Quick Tread®. The system scans all four tire in seconds and creates a 3-D model. The imaging from the model provides a true tire health report for customers.
Hunter Engineering became the largest non-OE exhibitor at the SEMA Show with a 7,000 square foot booth staffed by over 100 HQ employees and members of Hunter's field organization.
Road Force® Elite
The Road Force® Elite, uses patented Hunter vision technology to automatically determine wheel dimensions and wheel runout measurements. GM announces the Road Force® Elite as essential equipment for use in service facilities in the U.S.
The AutoComp Elite® introduced patented Automatic Compensation technology and an intuitive touchscreen interface. It also gained OE approval at an unprecedented rate.
The Revolution™ WalkAway™ allows for 80-second autonomous operation during the bead breaking and demounting process, and offers time saving of 25% or more when paired with wheel balancing.
Quick Check Drive® provides unmanned alignment audit results with no stopping or labor required. Additional cameras can capture 40+ images per vehicle, protecting shops against mistaken damage claims.