Jay Leno’s massive garage is full of exotic vehicles that can sprint to 200 miles per hour or more, but this week on YouTube he profiles a one-off that impresses him just as much from an engineering perspective. The 1931 Shotwell is a three-wheeler created by a 17-year-old, and Leno is keeping it on the road.
Bob Shotwell built his car in the home garage, and it’s an impressive accomplishment, especially for something by a teenager. Power comes from a four-cylinder, air-cooled Indian motorcycle engine, and the mill drives the rear-wheel through a three-speed gearbox. A roof-mounted scoop draws cool air into the rear to keep the powerplant cool. Shotwell draped his creation in a body with a teardrop shape, which is very art deco.
Shotwell covered 150,000 miles in his homebuilt vehicle in his lifetime, including a trip from Minnesota to Alaska and San Diego, California. When Jay got it, the car was in rough shape, but his team did a beautiful restoration. They added a few modern touches like an electric starter, electric fuel pump, and updated cooling, but they retained the spirit of Shotwell’s original design.
According to Jay, the Shotwell can reach around 60 miles per hour on the highway, but he cruises around in this video. Unfortunately, an electrical issue somewhat shortens the ride, but it’s interesting to see Leno trying to work out the problem along the side of the road.