- Steam-powered, so it was not suited for sub-zero weather.
- The body is covered in layers of cloth glued together with lacquer paste.
- The car had difficulty maintaining 35 mph.
- An unsuccessful, expensive, boxy looking sedan.
A relatively obscure attempt at producing steam-powered automobiles was a Canadian effort by financier O.J. Brooks. On March 14, 1923, Brooks Steam Motors, Ltd. was established in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with a factory at Stratford, Ontario. An American branch was simultaneously started in Buffalo, New York. By early 1924 $2,000,000 in stock had been sold, parts for 200 cars had been acquired and 125 men were at work in the factory.
Brooks did not intend to produce anything really new or different, but rather to incorporate every known contemporary advance in the field of steam cars into his vehicles. The European-look fabric body was said to produce absolute silence – no squeaks, rattles, or drafts, unlike steel bodies. The material was made by uniting successive layers of lacquer paste to a tough cotton cloth and the various layers were homogeneously knit together, forming a very thick but flexible coating. The boxy-looking sedan, the only model produced, had a price tag of $3,885. This was a tremendous amount of money in those days for any vehicle, and for a “new” car with nothing really new, it was disastrous. In spite of catchy company slogans such as “The Gentle Giant of Motion,” and “Pre-Eminent Among Fine Cars,” sales were poor, and by 1926 stockholders were trying to take over the plant. This action, while unsuccessful, created such distrust in the minds of the public that funds rapidly dried up and production of Brooks Steamers halted in July 1927.
Total production amounted to approximately 170 cars and two unfinished buses. In actual operation, the Brooks Steamer was a disappointment. Top speed obtained was 40 mph and it was difficult to maintain more than 35 mph cruising speed. This poor performance, plus the fact that steam cars were not suited to sub-freezing climates, was in large part responsible for poor sales and the subsequent demise of this Canadian car company.