Pinewood Derby Car Design

How to design a pinewood derby car

Start your engines!

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 begin

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.

Make It Fast!

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 Star Destroyer, R2D2, CP30, StarWars 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, minion, minecraft, steve, creeper, dragon

Military pinewood derby cars

Army Humvee Car Design
Army Humvee Hummer, 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, airplane

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
Shark Car, Cheetah, lion, rhino, lynx, fox, tiger, bear, wolf, snake, lizard, 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, fire engine

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
Swiss Cheese Car, banana, strawberry, grapes, canolli, pizza slice, red hot chili pepper, pickle, asparagus, coke bottle, Hotdog, 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
Skateboard Car, Baseball bat, hockey stick, Olympic torch, arrows, snowboard, Skateboard, ski, basketball, falcons, giants, yankees, bruins, rangers, penguins, bobsled, seahawks, Saints, Patriots, Broncos, 49ers, zamboni, bobsled

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 Powderpuff cars

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, lego, bumblebee


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

LEGO® Derby Cars

small LEGO Derby Car
If you want to create pinewood derby car and add LEGO pieces to it, read our special Guide How to Design a LEGO Pinewood Derby Car.

If you want to design a LEGO Derby Car to race on a pinewood derby track, read our free LEGO Derby Car Racing Guide.

Use Pinewood Pro's PRO Brick LEGO Derby Wheel Assembly that is our exclusive, custom designed Brick-Wheels-Axles that snaps onto LEGO pieces. Then snap on our Zinc Brick Weights because your LEGO car needs weight to go fast just like your pinewood derby car.

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
Pre-cut Car Designs Block 1. Pre-cut cars 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
Pinewood Derby in Six Steps book 2. Pinewood Derby in Six Steps 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
Pinewood Derby Car Design Plans 3. Get a car design plan guide 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!
Pinewood Derby Winning Secrets book 4. Winning Pinewood Derby Secrets, the #1 Best Seller! 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.

Pinewood Pro Winner's Circle


Winning Tips and Hints

Pinewood Derby
Tips & Hints

Looking for more cool car design ideas? Our free Pinewood Derby Car Design Guide has over 100 cool pinewood derby car design ideas.

Pinewood Derby
Wheels Tip

If you are using 3/8" round weights, drill your 3/8" weight holes before cutting out the rest of the car because it is easier to hold the full block. Always use a clamp to hold your block before drilling or cutting. Safety First!

Pinewood Derby
Winning Hint

Looking for a pinewood derby car design template? Select from over 30 of Pinewood Pro's award winning Pinewood Derby Car Designs. They include everything from race cars to Military cars to a Nike Sneaker!