The DIY Files: His teenage homemade car gets a slot in Jay Leno's Garage


Never heard of a Shotwell? Well, neither had we—and neither had Jay Leno, at least not until about 15 years ago.

That's when the TV funny man received a letter from a man in a small town in Minnesota. That man--Bob Shotwell--told Leno that he had designed a car back in 1931.

Not only did Shotwell still have his three-wheeled car, he wanted it to go to Leno himself.

MORE: Check out other project cars from Jay Leno's Garage

Building a car yourself isn't for the faint of heart, but that's just what Shotwell did more than 85 years ago on a suggestion from his father. As Leno tells the story, Shotwell's dad told his high school-age son that if he wanted a car, he needed to build it himself.

It's unlikely that father expected son to follow through, but that is exactly what happened. 

The three-wheeler is powered by a 77-cubic-inch Indian motorcycle engine and it is an interesting, if not exactly innovative, design. Still, for a 17-year-old kid, the little car is a heck of an achievement.

Shotwell drove the car more than 150,000 miles, including a 6,000-mile roundtrip journey to the Northwestern United States. 

In 1999, Shotwell decided that the car needed a new owner, so he passed it to Leno under the condition that it not be destroyed.

Check out the video and sound off below in the comments if you think you could build your own car today.

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