Free Pinewood Derby Car Design Guide
About the Author: Joe Gargiulo, Pinewood Pro Founder
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 same....you 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, 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 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|
|spider, ant, scorpion, ladybug, praying mantis, beetle, fish, caterpillar, bug|
Animal derby cars
|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 car, firetruck, tanker truck, pine wood log truck, school bus, train, canoe, ambulance|
Cool Race cars
|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|
|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, 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|
|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, Cub Scout, Eagle, Bobcat, Webelo, soap box 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
|Toothbrush, Pencil, peanut, fire hydrant, rope, dollar bill, clothes pin, cactus, tree stump, comb, candle, key|
Funny or comical 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
|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|
|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
||Choose from Stock Car, NASCAR, Sport Coupe, Corvette, Street Car, Cheetah, Bullet car, Axe Blade Racer|
||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
||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!
||Contains a pinewood derby car design guide plus my complete list of over 40 winning speed secrets. Proven results with 1000's of winners.|
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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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.
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.
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.
Wow, we did it! Dad, I'll never forget this night.
- Steven Gargiulo
We came in fourth place; very respectable, given it was our first time. Thanks very much for helping us overcome our building weaknesses with great products.
- Doug and Taiki from VA
My son placed 1st place in the St. David's Cup.
Thank you for the great Pinewood Derby tips! My son was so excited when he got the 1st place trophy!
- Kevin from AZ
My son won an award for most futuristic design. We really appereciated all your help. Thanks for all the help and guidance.
- Greg from CT
The speed axles did the trick second year in a row!
- Debbie & Frank
We took first in our pack of 60 cars. It was an amazing day. Thanks again Joe. Your info is the best out there!
This is my son's first Derby car as a Tiger Cub Scout. We had a lot of fun working on this together. Even though he didn't place it was a rewarding experience. Next year we plan to build something even more unique and perhaps a little more challenging. Thanks for a great web site!
- Shawn from CA
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James won his first pack race and also won the district race. He never lost a race using your products. Thank you for all you are doing.
We got a "Most Realistic" for the Humvee and an 4th place with the "wedge." You would have thought my seven-year-old twin grandsons had won college scholarships! I was a hero. Thanks, again. I'll probably be back next year, Lord willing.
- Mike from KS
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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Using these axles and BSA speed wheels, we set a track record, went undefeated and won the pack championship. My son is thrilled to be heading to districts and let me tell you, a winning scout is a happy scout. Can't recommend these enough!
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We ran our 3 cars at a local pack meet, and what a great time my kids had. Both of my two boys prepared their cars with your tooling. My boys were given first and second place.
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Once we ordered your tips and tricks we won 1st place every year since. Thank You so much for this information and making my son's pinewood derby career a success.
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