The Swan Car – The Most Outrageous Roadworthy Vehicle Ever Built

The Swan Car is regarded as one of the craziest, most eccentric vehicles to ever hit the streets, and one look at it is enough to explain why. The car was commissioned in the early 1900s by Robert “Scotty” Matthewson, a wealthy British engineer living in Calcutta, India. It remains unclear as to why he was so obsessed with swans, but he loved the birds enough to travel to England in 1909 and place a very special order with JW Brooks and Company for a swan-shaped car. The following year, the unique vehicle arrived in Calcutta and immediately became the talk of the town. The one-of-a-kind car had a wood body fitted on top of a metal chassis, and because the wood was so thick, the entire vehicle weighed a whopping 6,615 pounds. It was hand-carved to mimic an actual bird’s feathers and painted a pearl-white color. It also featured brushes on each tire to ensure that no elephant poop stuck to them. Some of the most outrageous features of the Swan Car included a special duct that released whitewash on the road from time to time, to create the illusion that the swan had pooped, as well as 8 organ pipes and a keyboard for different horn sounds. At the touch of a button, the swan’s beak opened and sprayed hot water fed by the pressurized engine cooling system in an arc to clear the way of pedestrians. After spending a small fortune — $19,012 ($564,270 today) — on a vehicle he could no longer drive, Matthewson decided to part with the Swan Car. Fortunately, finding someone wealthy enough to take it off his hands wasn’t too difficult. The Maharaja of Nabha, Ripudaman Singh, had a thing for rare and unusual objects, and the Swan Car was right up his alley. Unfortunately for him, he was removed from office by the British for incompetence, and the swan vehicle wound up in the possession of the Louwman Museum in the Netherlands where it can still be admired today.