Pinewood Derby Car Design

How to design a pinewood derby car


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Free Pinewood Derby Car Design Guide

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pinewood car design plans

This guide takes you through the car design process and presents over 100 cool pinewood derby car design ideas with links to pictures and car plans with templates.

Whether you are building a pinewood derby car for a Cub Scouts race, Awana Grand Prix, Kub Car, Royal Rangers, pinecar, powderpuff girls pinewood derby, or any other pine wood derby racing organization, the car blocks are all the need to start your car design with an idea.

Designing a cool car is one of the more fun parts of pinewood derby. You can design a creative, funny type of car or a super slick speed racer. I suggest letting your (or your child's) imagination work before narrowing down to something you can actually build. The guide below will take you through pinewood derby car design step-by-step.

Before you start

If you are building a car with a child, be sure to let them do as much as possible. The more they do, the more they will get out of it. The design stage is a great way to get them engaged in the project. Have fun brainstorming car designs. Let your child be creative coming up with car ideas before picking your final car design.

Pinewood Derby Cool Car Design Ideas

Every year I always started our pinewood project by asking my son, "What is your design "theme" for this year?" (Aside from "Dad, let's make it fast"!). A theme got him thinking and usually helped me look for ideas in the area he was interested in.

My son usually gave me simple design ideas like, a cool race car, an airplane, a shark, a pencil, a baseball bat, etc. One year he simply said, "I want a bubble on top". Another year he wanted grooves on the sides to "channel the airflow". Still another year he wanted a "tapered look so it was aerodynamic". Once again, it is important to incorporate the child's ideas into the car design so they feel good about it.

Oh, don't worry too much about making a car design that is aerodynamic or fall into the trap of the ultimate car or the fastest pinewood derby car design. Pinewood Derby cars are not going fast enough, nor long enough for aerodynamics to affect speed in any way. It is far more important to have fun designing a cool car that you can call your own.

The most important speed factors are from polished axles, lubricants, wheels, weight placement and the other 40+ speed improvements you can find in Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets.

Your child may want a military design, animal theme, cartoon theme, race car theme, or "something totally cool and different." The table below lists about 100 pinewood derby car design ideas that will help you select a design theme for your pine wood derby car. Something should jump out at you from this design list. If not, then e-mail me your car design and I'll add it to this list! Better yet, e-mail me a picture of your car and I'll add it to our picture gallery that features over 500 pinewood derby cars!

Pinewood Pro has over 30 car designs with templates and design patterns, 6 painting schemes, step-by-step 3D drawings, 360 degree animation, plus weight placement and speed hints. The cars designs below with links take you to the plan for that car.

Pinewood Car Design Idea Theme Pinewood Derby Car Ideas

Cartoon or Fantasy Derby Cars

spiderman cartoon fantasy batman superman car designs super hero pokemon cars
Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Pokemon, The Flash, Inferno, Hulk, Batmobile derby plan or Batmobile car kit, Green Hornet , Pixar's Lightning McQueen, Pixar's Sally Car, Star Wars, R2D2, CP30, X-wing fighter, Super Mario Brothers car, Angry Birds, Lego Car, tron, taxi, monster truck, pikachu, pirate, ghostbusters, harry potter, Mater, mickey mouse, sonic, dragon, Nike shoe

Military pinewood derby cars

Army Humvee Car Design
Army Hummer Humvee, plane, rocket, cruise missile, titanic, Army Tank, jeep, sword, knife, bazooka, nuclear submarine, battleship, fighter plane, space shuttle, Army Truck , sloop, warthog, helicopter, torpedo, jet, marines, air force, army, navy, special forces, stealth glider, magnum

Bug cars

spider bug insect car design
spider, ant, scorpion, ladybug, praying mantis, beetle, fish, caterpillar, bug

Animal derby cars

shark ocean fish animal bird lion cat design plan
tiger, bear, wolf, snake, lizard, cheetah, lion, rhino, lynx, fox, shark, dolphin, rabbit, turtle, Whale, frog, horse, falcon, bumblebee, crocodile, alligator, monkey, Trex, dragon, mouse, hedgehog, platipus, python, raptor, roadrunner, trout, panda

Trucks, busses and trains, emergency vehicles

Police fire truck firetruck emergency emergancy vehicle
police car, firetruck, tanker truck, pine wood log truck, school bus, train, canoe, ambulance

Cool Race cars

grand prix nascar racecar race formula one car design plan
NASCAR, Formula One, funny cars, drag racers, Grand Prix, street rod, Corvette, Mustang, Lotus, Bullet Car, Cheetah, Stock Car, classic racers, convertible, dragster, sedan, van, pickup, limosine, sportscar, camaro,firebird, mach 5, ferrari, jaguar, viper, cobra, lamborghini, porche, trans am, volkswagon beetle, chevy, ford, stingray

Food Car

cheese food hotdog fruit soda derby car plans
Hotdog, banana, strawberry, grapes, canolli, pizza slice, red hot chili pepper, pickle, asparagus, coke bottle, Swiss Cheese, watermellon, hersheys bar, pickle, carrot, ice cream sandwich


pencil pen crayon object car design plan
Pencil, redwood tree, popemobile, broomstick, crayon, iPod, violin, megaphone, snowmobile, titanic, music car, flute, piano, guitar, drums

Radiation and Destruction

lightening bolt, radiation, cross bones, skull, rotten tooth, bloodshot eyeballs, Hearse, coffin, skeleton, thunderbolt, tornado


rocket ship, united states us patriotic statue of liberty
Flag, firecracker, American Eagle, Abe Lincoln, Soldier, world trade towers, liberty bell, statue of liberty, General Lee, SEAL Team 6, Rangers, General Lee

Cub Scout Cars

tiger bear wolf webelo weblo
Tiger, Bear, Wolf, Cub Scout, Eagle, Bobcat, Webelo, soap box car


skateboard baseball hockey basketball soccer surfing sports car
Baseball bat, hockey stick, Olympic torch, arrows, snowboard, Skateboard, ski, surfboard, basketball, falcons, giants, yankees, bruins, rangers, penguins, bobsled, seahawks, Saints, Patriots, Broncos, 49ers

More Cool Car design ideas

designs candle pencil peanut dollar bill cars musical instrument
Toothbrush, Pencil, peanut, fire hydrant, rope, dollar bill, clothes pin, cactus, tree stump, comb, candle, key

Funny or comical cars

spongebob toilet paper funny derby cars
SpongeBob Square Pants, Spam car, smiley car, toilet paper, cigar, dirty sock, clam car, lobster, toilet bowl, dukes of hazzard, DragonBall, zamboni, dollar bill, pine wood derby box, godzilla, Loch Ness Monster

Girl scout themes

girls flowers hearts unicorn pink derby car powder puff
Flowers, butterfly, hearts, shamrock, dove, girl power car, seahorse, Arrow,unicorn, Pink Nike Sneaker, Cat, Dog, horse, turtle, princess, Sally Pixar Car, bling car, barbie, piano, peace, iloveucar, love bug, lipstick, candy cane


arrow symbol spear olympic torch
Olympic torch, Arrow car, Spear, hatchet, tomahawk

Other places to look for car design ideas

  • Pinewood Pro Pinewood Derby Car Picture Gallery
  • Cars on the street or in parking lots
  • Model cars
  • Our favorite - my son's extensive collection of over 100 matchbox cars!

Sketch Your Car

Once you have settled on the car design theme it is time to draw. The drawing stage is also fun and creative for a child. You can let them draw freehand or take the pine wood block and trace it on a piece of paper. Trace the side view and the top view so you get an idea of what it will look like from each angle.

Pinewood Car Design - What NOT to do!

Inevitably, my son would choose a design that was too complicated (eg, the Batmobile!) Unless you are a master craftsman (or real good with a dremel), your imagination can be much greater than what you can actually build.

At this point you need to scale the design back to something you feel can be done in the time you have available. One alternative to save time is to purchase a pre-cut pine car that has lots of wood on it. Most of the cutting has already been done, like the stock car from pinewood pro, but you can still modify it to your custom design.

Finalizing your Pine wood Car Design

When you have the final car design picked, you should again draw the top and side view on a piece of paper. You can then use this drawing as a template to cut the pine block. To create the cutting template, cut out the car design that you drew on paper, place it on the side of the pine block and trace it on the block. Do the same for both sides and the top of the block. You can then cut out your cool car design along the lines that you drew on the block.

Knickname your car!

When you are done, ask your son or daughter to give their pinewood derby car an awesome knickname. Coming up with knicknames is fun and it is another way that they can personalize their car to make it their own. My son knicknamed his cars Tiger Claw, Neon Demon, Golden Retriever, and Silver Streak.

Pinewood Derby Design Made Easy

If you don't want to start from scratch, the following will help you design your pine car faster. They are ordered from fast-easy-simple to do-it-yourself experts.

Pinewood Derby Help What is does for you What it offers

1. Pre-cut cars

Pre-cut Car Designs Block
  • Saves lots of time
  • Just lightly sand and you are ready to paint
Choose from Stock Car, NASCAR, Sport Coupe, Corvette, Street Car, Cheetah, Bullet car, Axe Blade Racer

2. Pinewood Derby in Six Steps

Pinewood Derby in Six Steps book
  • How to build your car step by step
  • Can also be called, "pinewood derby for dummies"
Pinewood derby beginner's guide, includes a bonus section on Essential Speed Tips, plus three simple cut-out car templates

3. Get a car design plan guide

Pinewood Derby Car Design Plans
  • Guides you though the car build process with step-by-step Illustrations in 3D rendered images.
How-to build it yourself pinewood car design plans. Choose from The Inferno, The Flash, The Spider, Police Car, Green Hornet, and Star fighter, and over a dozen more!

4. Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets, the #1 Best Seller!

Pinewood Derby Winning Secrets book
  • How to design your derby car for speed
Contains a pinewood derby car design guide plus my complete list of over 40 winning speed secrets. Proven results with 1000's of winners.

Time Management

Consider combining the above options to save time. For example, you could save time by purchasing a car design plan (or pre-cut car) and putting your time into making your car go fast by following the tips in Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets.

I hope this pinewood derby car design guide helps you.

If you find yourself low on time, there are always Pre-built Cars available in our store.

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Pinewood Derby Cars - Build a winning pinewood derby car with our polished axles, lathed wheels, design plans, free guides and full line of speed products

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      Pinewood Derby
      Tips & Hints

      The best part of pinewood derby is designing a unique, cool car that you can call your own. Don't worry about aerodynamics because it is almost insignificant. We identify dozens of other speed tips in Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets that rank far above aerodynamics.

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    • Pinewood Derby
      design Tip

      Make your car slim. If your car is too chunky, there will be lots of weight in the wood, leaving less weight for your weights. You want lots of weight so you can move the center of gravity to the optimal point to maximize inertia.

      Pinewood Derby
      design Hint

      Before cutting your car, use a straight edge to draw lines down the center lengthwise and widthwise across your car. Then draw your car design template over these straight lines. The template and straight lines help guide your cutting on both sides of the car so everything is square.

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      Jonah's car won 1st place in his Den, first place in the Pack and I couldn't believe it but he also won for  Best looking car!
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Pinewood Derby Car Design Help