Pinewood Derby Car Design

Step by Step car design guide with plans, templates and 3D images

5 Step Guide to Pinewood Derby Car Design

by , Pinewood Pro on January 3, 2018


Pinewood Derby Car Design 5 step guide

I have been building pinewood derby cars for over 20 years and I'm the author of over 30 pinewood derby car design plans (below). Many people have won awards with our car designs. We are very happy to have helped so many people build a cool car.


Car Design is the fun part of pinewood derby! You get to use your imagination to come up with a unique, cool little midget race car that you can be proud of and call your own. Typically, pinewood derby is a parent / child event, so it is important to let your child pick the design that they want. The more input the child has, the more ownership the will have and feel the car is theirs.


So here is how to design a pinewood derby car in 5 steps:


Car Design Step 1: Brainstorm Car Ideas

Step 1: Brainstorm Car Ideas


The beauty of pinewood derby car design is that your car can be anything from a slick Indy-F1 race car to a Shark to a Fighter Jet or Humvee or a dollar bill or a piece of Swiss Cheese and everything in between. Have fun coming up with ideas and make a list of cars that you and your child like.

Write down a short list of cool car ideas, then step back and consider how difficult it will be to cut out and shape the car. How much time do you have and what are your wood working skills? Anybody and make a Swiss Cheese car, but only a few can make the Star Wars X-Wing Fighter!

Quick Tips:

  • To get your imagination started, I wrote a Car Design Idea Guide http://www.pinewoodpro.com/pinewood-derby-howto-design.php with that has over 100 cool car ideas.
  • One year I asked my son to pick a cool car from his Hot Wheels car collection
  • Start with a favorite animal, sport, etc.

Car Design Step 2: Draw Car Design on paper

Step 2: Draw Your Car Design on Paper


It is much easier to erase lines on a piece of paper than to patch your car block after making a cut that you want to change.

Quick Tips:

  • Put your block on a piece of paper and trace the block from four views; side, top, front and back.
  • Draw your car design in the four boxes so you can visualize it from the top, side, front and back.
  • When you like the car design, cut out each of the four views. You will use them as cutting templates.



Step 3: Trace car design templates on pinewood block


Using the drawings you made in Step 2, cut out each of the four templates with a scissors. You now have drawing templates. Place each template against the car body and trace each one on the car block.

Quick Tips:

  • Use a T-square to make straight lines across the car body and down the center of the block. This will help you square up your cut lines.
  • Trace your car design on both sides of the block

Car Design Step 4: Rough Cut Car Design

Step 4: Rough cut car design out of the pine block



You will now cut the car design from the block using the lines that you drew on the block as a guide.

Safety Warnings:

  • Be sure the block is secured in a bench vice before cutting!
  • Do not let children handle saws without adult supervision
  • Do not let children use power tools.

Quick Tips:

  • Before cutting, decide what type of weights you want for your car. Weights come in many different shapes, sizes and densities. If you decide to use 3/8" cylinders, decide where you want to place these weights and drill the 3/8" weight holes BEFORE cutting out the rest of the car. It is much easier to secure the block for drilling before you begin cutting.
  • Likewise, if you want to drill new axle holes, a raised wheel or re-drill the axle slots, drill before cutting out the rest of the car.

Best Tools:

  • The best tool for drilling axle holes is the PRO Driller.
  • The best tool for cutting a pinewood derby block is a Coping Saw because it is easy for a child to handle and it is designed to cut sharp corners easily
  • The best tool for introducing a child to power tools is the dremel but once again, only under adult supervision.

Car Design Step 5: Car Design Shaping

Step 5: Shape Your Car Design



After cutting your car, it will inevitably have rough cuts and gouges. As you see your car take shape, use your imagination again to change the final design to add cool features, especially if you are working with a child.

For example, one year my son wanted air channels. Another year he wanted an aerodynamic bubble on top. Do your best to accommodate their ideas.

The last step is the sand, seal and paint your car. Have fun designing a cool pinewood derby car and don't forget to send pictures for our Pinewood Derby Gallery so you can show off your creation!



Pinewood Pro Instant Download Car Design Plans


Free pinewood derby template patterns are good but they don't tell you how to make the car! And free design templates don't give you step-by-step cutting images, weight placement, building tips, speed tips, etc. Free is nice, but look at all you get with a Pinewood Pro plan.

Car Design Download Car Plans

Instant Download Car Design Plans


Downloadable pinewood derby car design plans show each cut in your car block with a clear, illustrated 3-Dimension (3D) image so you can see your car car take shape with each step.

Each car design plan includes cut-out templates (car patterns or blueprints), weight placement, speed hints, building tips to save time, problems to avoid and direct links to supplies and speed products to help you and make a fast car so it is competitive.



Example page from Car Design Plan


We show your car in six different painting schemes according to your car style. The painting schemes will show, for example, a more military-style for the Army Humvee, Tank or Truck, and more like a race car for our Grand Prix, Firebird, Spitfire, or more bling colors for girl's cars like the Sally, Guitar or Nike Sneaker cars. Most of our car plans also include cut out templates for theme symbols or emblems, like the Lightning McQueen, Batmobile, Flash and SpongeBob cars.

Within each plan you will find links to show your car spinning 360 degrees so you can view it from all angles. Pinewood Pro car design plans are the only plans on the market with these cool features and that is why many people have won awards for our car designs.

Download a Car Design Plan instantly...Fast and easy!

Select from over 30 Car Design Plans, checkout, then click the DOWNLOAD link in your receipt and it will appear on your screen. You can then save the plan to your PC, tablet or phone, print the templates and refer to the plan as you watch your car take shape step-by-step. Check back often! We add new car plans on a regular basis.


Pinewood Derby Car Design plans

The Flash - pinewood derby car design picture
The Flash pinewood derby design

The Flash car is one of our most popular car designs. The paint job pattern is included so you can make that cool paint job that tears from the hood to the back of the car.

Nothing is faster than...THE FLASH!


Only $4.95

derby car design plan batmobile picture

Batmobile pinewood derby car

The Batmobile rocks with its tapered front, raised wheel fenders and finishing with aerodynamic fins in the rear. Full step by step instructions with template patterns help anyone to make a pinewood derby bat car.

Nobody beats the Batmobile...nobody.


Only $4.95

pinewood derby car design - army humvee

Take a peek inside the
the Army Humvee Hummer pinewood derby car.

The Humvee car is designed to throw fear into the competition with it's sturdy look and camauflage paint job, but don't be afraid, this is an easy car to build!

Add Camouflage Body skin and Military Stickers for an authentic Military look.


Crush the competition with your Humvee


Only $4.95

Shark pinewood derby car design image

Shark pinewood derby car design plan


Be the most feared hunter in the ocean when you build the shark car. This plan shows you how to cut fins from the block that comes in your kit. Six paint schemes includes this red hot flames shark, traditional blue, grey, and 3 other shark colors...take your pick.

Only $4.95

Tiger Pinewood Derby Car Plan picture

The Tiger Claw derby car

The Tiger car is perfect for Tiger Cubs...easy to build and lots of space for painting on designs. This is the fist car I built with my son and it is actually the Pinewood Pro logo car! Add Tiger Cub Stickers for a cool finishing touch.

The Tiger Claw...competition doesn't stand a chance.


Only $4.95

Inferno Pinewood Car Plan photo

The Inferno Pinewood Derby

Too Hot, Too Fast!

If you like hot flames and the Indy style race car with open wheel struts, this car is for you. See 3D sample images of The Inferno design plan.

Burn the competition with your INFERNO



Only $4.95

Pinewood Car design Plan - spider photo picture

The Spider derby car design plan

Weave a web to snare the trophy...we've had many district champions win with this car design!

Add Spider Stickers with webs, eyes and stylized Black Widow Spider words for the sides of your car.

Zip past all others with the Spider



Only $4.95

police car pinewood car design plan  photo picture

Pinewood Derby Police Car Design


Sound the Siren and move aside as the Police Car races
past the heat. Build an authentic looking Police Car to Run down the competition!



Only $4.95

NASCAR pinewood derby car design

NASCAR pinewood derby design


Rip up the track with your NASCAR...full car design details with cut out templates and 3D images for each step in the build process.

Use our NASCAR dry-transfer decals to give you the complete NASCAR look and feel.



Only $4.95

pinewood derby design plan - tank picture

Army Tank pinewood derby car design



The Army Tank is an awesome looking car design with its gun turrent on the top. Cover your tank with Military stickers and a camouflage Body Skin for the perfect military look.

Crush the competition with your Army Tank...nothing stands in the way of the tank!



Only $4.95

arrow derby car image

Arrow pinewood derby car design plan


Shoot straight for the finish line with this cool car...Get the Arrow derby car design plan to build this awesome car.


Only $4.95

Wolf Pinewood Derby Car Design picture

The Wolf derby car design plan

Add Wolf Decals for the finishing touch on your car.


The WOLF...Leader of the Pack



Only $4.95

skateboard pinewood derby car design

Skateboard derby car design plan

This plan shows you how to make a miniature skateboard car from a block of pine wood. Build the coolest looking, fastest car on the track.



Only $4.95

spitfire pinewood derby car image

Spitfire pinewood derby car design plan


Lose your competitors in your smoke trail when you build a car using our Spitfire pinewood derby car design plan

Only $4.95

lightning mcqueen pixar cars image

Lightning McQueen pinewood derby plan


Modeled after Pixar's Lightning McQueen car...comes with complete cut-out templates including the 95 numbers emblem. Full car design details with all the patterns you need to make this car. NEW! Get the Lightning McQueen sticker set to complete this car.

Lightning McQueen car design needs car fenders sold seperatetly.


Lightning is always the fastest!



Only $4.95

arrow derby car image

Sally pinewood derby car design plan


Modeled after Pixar's Sally Car (Lightning's girlfriend car!)


Only $4.95

pinewood derby car design guitar image

Guitar Car pinewood derby design plan

The guitar car rocks the derby to the finish

Only $4.95

pinewood derby car design - spiderman

Spiderman pinewood derby car design plan


Weave a web to the finish line with the spiderman pinewood derby car 3D design plan


Only $4.95

pinewood derby design plan picture - hornet

Pinewood Derby plan Green hornet


Fly down the track and sting any car that gets close!



Only $4.95

firebird pinewood derby car design

Firebird pinewood derby car design plan


Watch the Firebird Fly down the track! Full pinewood derby design plan with six different painting schemes, cut out template patterns, finishing tips and speed tips.

Only $4.95

spongebob derby car design

Spongebob pinewood derby car design plan


You'll be smiling all the way to the finish line when you build a car using our Spongebob car design plan

Only $4.95

pinewood derby car design - army truck

Army Truck derby design


The Army Truck delivers...first time, every time.



Get a set of Military Firepower Stickers to go with your Army Truck.



Only $4.95

nike sneaker pinewood derby car image

Nike Shoe pinewood derby car design plan


Let your car run fast with Nike Shoes!
Full pinewood derby design plan with six different painting schemes, cut out template, painting and finishing tips, etc.

Only $4.95

blue lightning pinewood derby car image

Blue Lightning pinewood derby design plan


Strike your competition with Blue Lightning!

Only $4.95

pencil derby car image

Pencil pinewood derby car design plan


Write your own victory certificate with the tip of your Pencil car, while erasing the competition with the rear end as you wiz by.

Only $4.95

rocket pinewood derby car design plan

Rocket pinewood derby car design plan


Launch your way to the finish line! With our Rocket car design. Full pinewood derby plan with six different painting schemes, cut out template, finishing tips, weight placement and speed tips.

Only $4.95


PT Cruiser derby car image
PT Cruizer pinewood derby car design plan


Cruise to the finish line! with your Cruizer pinewood derby car

Only $4.95

Swiss Cheese pinewood derby car image

Swiss Cheese pinewood derby design plan


Swiss Cheese car, faster than a speeding mouse! Full pinewood derby design plan with six different painting schemes (including the smelly cheese look), cut out template blueprint patterns, finishing tips, weight plancement and speed tips.

Only $4.95

fire engine pinewood derby car design photo picture

Fire Engine Truck pinewood derby


Hose the competition with your fire truck derby car! The Fire Truck design is big, bad and, well, fire engine red for a hot look.



Only $4.95
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grand prix pinewood derby car plan picture

Grand Prix pinewood derby car design


Want a speedy race car look? The Grand Prix is for you. You can even add an optional race car driver complete with a racing helmet, racer's seat and steering wheel.

Take a peek inside to see sample pages of the Grand Prix car design plan. Speed to the finish line with the Grand Prix



Only $4.95

star wars xwing fighter derby car

Star Wars X-Wing Fighter pinewood derby


Blast away the competition with your X-Wing Fighter, modeled after the StarWars XWing Fighter that takes on Star Destroyers!

Full pinewood derby car design plan that you can download instantly



Only $4.95




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      Pinewood Derby
      Tips & Hints

      Spin each wheel on a polished axle with graphite and count the number of revolutions. If a wheel wobbles, try spinning it again. If it still wobbles, get another wheel that does not wobble.








      Pinewood Derby
      axles Tip

      The axle slots that are cut into standard blocks are too tight for BSA axles that are .089" diameter. Small axle slots make it difficult to get your axles in straight. A #44 drill bit is .086", which I find too tight. Consider a #43 Drill Bit, which is a perfect match at .089" for a snug fit.



      Pinewood Derby
      winning Hint

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Pinewood Derby Car Designs