Jay Leno examines the bonkers 1910 Brooke 'Swan Car' at Pebble Beach

How much oddball can you squeeze into one car? We probably haven't reached the limit yet, but just after the turn of the 20th century a man did his best to find out. A wealthy Scottish engineer named Robert "Scotty" Nicholl Matthewson, living in Calcutta, bought a 30-horsepower Brooke sedan in 1910 England, and had a maker of steam-powereed fairground rides chisel a monumental and highly ornate wooden swan's body to cover the engine. Then he took it back to India.

He could win an award for weird right there, but that's only the beginning. In an era of awesomely expensive coachbuilt cars, a Brooke was more than thrice the cost of a Rolls-Royce. To make sure the Swan's other amenities befit the marque, Matthewson had a multi-note, exhaust-driven horn installed that he could play on a keyboard in the rear seat, but an even more startling way to clear the roads ahead was the swan's beak, which emitted a jet of scalding water onto anyone in the way. Other features: glowing eyes, Indian silk upholstery, plenty of gold leaf, brushes to keep the wheels clean while moving, and an "orifice" round back that would deposit whitewash on the roads. Because sometimes a swan's gotta go. The car was such a hit in town that it was bought by the Maharaja of Nabha, who had a miniature replica of it made called the Cygnet.

Jay Leno checked it out with Evert Louwman, the man who owns the museum in The Hague where the Brooke Swan Car is displayed, while at Pebble Beach. You can watch the story of it below.

Share This Photo X