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   An Internet Guide To Constructing Your Own Race Car.

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  Design Strategies/Tips
  Design Software
      CAD/CAM Software
      Automotive Specific
      Structural Design
      Aerodynamic Design

  Sanctioned Design Rules
  Books, Magazines & Sites

Design Software


Design Software

CAD/CAM Software


Solid Modelers

If you can afford one, a solid modeler is the best tool for designing a car. This software allows for parts and assemblies to be modeled, meaning the parts can be seen to work in concert before you create them physically. The parts are made up from basic shapes (Cube, sphere, cylinder, etc), which are combined via addition, subtraction and other means. The designer saves parts in a library and adds them as many times as needed. Designers can also purchase part model packs, which include things such as standard bolts, screws, nuts, etc.

Solid modelers add the capability of detecting if parts are not mating properly, and can often animate motion, allowing the designer to check that a suspension doesn't bind, for instance. Anyway, these are but a few of the products available. The focus is on PC/Windows applications, as is all software in this guide.


Autodesk Inventor Solid modelling software with an intuitive interface, and good feature set.
TurboCad Solid Modeler Low cost powerful solid modelling software. Probably the best value going. TurboCAD Solid Modeler More Info
TurboCad 3D Modeler A lower end version, very useful, and low cost
Solidworks Popular solid modeler with extensive features. Lots of 3rd party support for FEA and CFD "add-ons"
SDRC I-deas Series Solid modeling, sheet metal, mechanisms -- very powerful software in use by a number of racing teams. (~5000)
Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 4 Full featured solid modelling and drafting package.
CADKEY 99 Does a wide range of drawing 2D, 3D, Solid modeling, surface modeling. (~2000)
Unigraphics Solid Edge Another reputable solid modelling package.. This package should not be confused with the scaled down "Origin" version mentioned to the right.

Solid Edge Origin is available for free. Good to learn on, but complete car design is not possible. Click here to download.


Standard CAD Packages

The standard CAD packages are useful tools, but lack the part and assembly features of the solid modelling software. Still, they allow drafting precise designs, and as long as the designs can be co-ordinated properly, one can still use these packages for car design. You will also save a bunch of money.


AutoCAD LT A 2D CAD package from the industry standard Autodesk. Great features. AutoCAD LT 2002
AutoSketch 2D CAD. Good feature set. AutoSketch 7.0 More Info/BUY IT!
TurboCAD 2D/3D CAD software with great features and a low price


Automotive Specific


Excellent software for suspension design. Produced in Australia.

Also, 2-stroke engine tuning

Click here to go to web site.
CarSim Educational This is a FREE tool for simulating vehicle dynamics Download here.
Bowlings Automotive Programs Online calculators for a variety of automotive needs Go to the site...
Performance Calculator A tool which solves hundred of automotive calculations. Go to the site...
Auto-Ware Software A wide variety of software from design to trackside. Also includes a Q&A section on various aspects of race cars and racing setup. Go to the site...

Structural Design


FEA analysis, buckling, vibration fatigue

Probably the best PC package for stress analysis

FREE 30 Day Trial Version available at
Working Model Series

FEA Analysis, motion simulation, physics. Everything necessary to test the physical workings of assemblies

Demo CDs and info at
VisualAnalysis Structural design analysis/FEA (Finite Element Analysis) FREE 30 day trial at
Grape GBW Shareware FEA software Shareware version at
mTAB STRESS FEA software Demo available at

Aerodynamic Design (CFD, and Others)

PowerFlow 3D CFD. Probably the most automotive specific package - Has specialized setups for wind-tunnel type simulations
PHOENICS Shareware 3D CFD software -- has a VR interface, but shareware version in DOS. Windows Version available
CFD2000 Another 3D CFD package
Flow3D General purpose 3D CFD
CFD Ace+ 3D CFD Software
VisualFoil Airfoil design software - ie. wing design Free demo available at
FoilSim FREE airfoil educational tool from NASA.
MicroTunnel 2D flow simulator Evaluation Version @


TreePad FREE Windows explorer tree view style notepad. Great for categorizing notes about car design

(c) 1999 Matt Gartner