Wooden Buck For 37 Ford Phantom Part 7

The buck is only crude and un-smooth, but it is beginning to take the shape of a car.

Making your own car is not easy and there are several essential stages, before the final shape can be finalised. The chassis is somewhat simpler, in that it’s shape and layout is somewhat dictated by the components it has to house. With the body, there is more freedom for expression and what might work practically, does not work visually.

My concerns over the shape of the car were rising and rising. It was getting to the point where I was going to ‘junk’ what I had done and go back to the original sports car shaped design I done nearly 3 years ago.

I decided, before cutting the buck up; as I had the wood; to complete the roof outline a little more. I wouldn’t spend too much time cutting the wood exactly to the CAD drawings, firstly because I had changed the design so much and secondly because there was a strong chance it could end in the bin.

The side profile of the roof isn’t complete and the top is still an open structure, but the decision has been made to carry on with this design.

Whilst making the roof, I actually widened the body yet another 10mm at the rear. This will make finding suitable curved glass a little trickier, but I shall cross that bridge another time.

I found that the CAD model for a MG Midget windscreen, downloaded off the web, wasn’t even close the the real thing. It was some 2.5 inches out. Someone had obviously spent a lot of time modelling the screen, but probably did it purely from photos.
To get the ‘real’ screen to fit, I had to move it a few inches further back on the body, canting it backwards in the process. I think this mis-founded trust in somebody else’s model has actually turned out for the better. When the side profile of the roof is complete, the length of the door may not end up quite as long as I had once feared. The dashboard on the original CAD model was really deep, but loosing that few inches will make a huge difference to the look of the interior.

Believe it or not, when the door was looking as long as a football pitch, there was a moment when I actually measured up to see if a fake front door would work.
– That idea didn’t last long.
– I hope design gurus have weak moments!

Hot Rod - Wooden Buck

As you can probably see, the vertical roof ‘stations’ are only crudely propped into place at the moment. Now that I have decided to carry on, I’ll make up something a little more solid. Filling in-between the stations, will also make the roof pretty solid. In the above shot, you might just make out the beginnings of a swage line about 6 inches up from the bottom of the boot area. This is approximately the same height as that of the original. This car’s outline has been seriously chopped and sectioned, so to regain a few of the proportions, I will move this swage line down an inch or two.

1937 Ford Slantback

The inspiration for the CAD model (below) has its’ gutters removed along with a swage line just below the rear window.

1937 Ford Slantback

De-guttering has been done for two reasons. Firstly, ‘it’s a hot rod thing’ and secondly because the distance between the top of the glass and the top of the roof on the blue car is half that of the red one (the red one’s roof has more of a dome). On the blue car, if you were to put a gutter line in and keep the roof the same height, the roof would be perfectly flat. My goal is to have gutters and a look more closely based on the original.

Note also the swage-line below the boot on the blue car. I much prefer that of the red one. I also don’t like the ridge line on the rear fenders. The rear of the blue car slants forward a lot more that that of the red one. My woodwork currently follows the slant of the blue car, but this may change to something half between that of red and blue cars. Leaning the rear panel backwards will improve the path of the lower swage-line considerably and give a little extra room around the occupants heads.

For me, the blue car has that ‘made from a fibreglass kit’ look to it and the Red one has that ‘real steel’ look that is going to be hard to replicate. Sorry, if that sounds overly critical or unfair, it’s not my intention. It is just my brain telling me that the people building the car have influenced the design, making it easier to extract bits from the mold and simpler to align or assemble. With the blue car, I can only see the reasoning for design modifications, yet with the Red car I can see the employment of many traditional skills and lots of hand labour.

At the beginning, if I had used a massive 3D printer or milling machine to replicate my CAD model, I don’t think I would be at all happy with the results. I would have ditched the computer generated body as a non-starter and gone back to a standard Colin Chapman inspired design.
But doing the car in wood has given me time to reflect and the shape has evolved considerably. I can really understand the importance designers and builders place on 1/4 scale models and why ‘old school’ prototyping was done in clay. OK, the big design houses have the latest CAD modelling facilities and the very top designers, but I’m an old fashioned guy and find it so much easier to have something I can see and walk around.

When something exists only within CAD, I can see why design committees believe it is easy to change anything at will. After all, a click of the mouse is much easier than a hard day in the workshop.
In sharing the design process, a truly talented designer’s work can become smothered or lost. Let’s face it, caution is comfortable and flamboyance is often controversial.

I am a strong believer, when one person learns more than one skill, the cross-over will mean many of the aspects that can make a design special are compromised or dismissed early on. With any cross-skill appreciation, will come dozens of small tweaks that would make another persons job easier. Easier is great for the accountants and for stress levels, but not great for those with an artistic appreciation.
– I just wish I had one of the talents needed.

On the flip-side, CAD can make possible, things that would never have been started, things that simply aren’t feasable and things that would take decades, so it’s a tricky debate. I’ve spent the last 25 years in front of a computer, I’ve studied their use at University and use them as a hobby, so I believe they are invaluable. It’s just a shame that when we see old traditional skills, it’s like stepping back in time without a computer in site.

I wonder what would have happened to style icons such as the E-type Jaguar, if their designers (Malcolm Sayer) had been 3D CAD draughtsmen as well?