Recreating Classic Cars with CAD: Tucker Torpedo Project Update

Welcome to part eight of a blog series covering how a group of car and engineering enthusiasts are bringing the Tucker Torpedo concept car to life. If you haven’t read the other Tucker Blog entries, you can get caught up here:

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6   Part 7

Rob Ida continues to put in long hours on the Tucker Torpedo. During a recent discussion he said, “I’ve been putting in at least 10 hours a day on the Torpedo” and it shows. Most of the body panels, the roof, hood, and passenger side panels, as you can see here, are complete. The body panels are temporarily fastened to the substructure so the interface between them can be checked to ensure the gaps are even and the transition for one panel to the next is smooth.

Making these panels is no easy feat. The number of reverse curves each panel has makes forming them difficult because the metal curves in two directions as seen in the images of the roof panels. A lot of thought has to go into each panel before forming it. You don’t want to start forming a panel only to find out the curvature is not correct, because you can’t correct it, you have to start over.

Here’s another good example of a double curved form. This is the right rear panel that the rear fender will be mated to. In order to have a smooth transition between the panel and the fender, the curve has to start in the panel. Looking closer at the rear panel and you’ll see the contour of the rear fender is already started in the panel. The curve is very tight in this area and extremely difficult to form. This doesn’t faze Rob in his pursuit of perfection.

Another difficult area is the front end where the hood and side panel come together as seen in the images below. The contour below the center headlight curves in multiple directions and is probably the most difficult area of the body to form. But with Rob’s skill and patience he was able to form it the way he wanted it to look.

Rob took on a “special” Tucker project for the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey, PA. They wanted a replica of the Tucker “48” as an interactive display for kids to play with. So Rob used the molds he has for the “48” to make a fiberglass front end. He added steering and, of course, the pivoting headlight controlled by the steering wheel. The finishing touches will be the front bumper, which is in the process of being fabricated and an original Tucker Radio for the dashboard.

Click on the images below for a short video of the display in action.


The next big milestone is on the horizon. The body panel fabrication is soon getting to the point where the whole body structure can be removed from the wooden buck and then fitted to the chassis. There’s still a lot of work to be done between now and then, and I think by the next blog that process should be about ready to happen. Once that happens Rob can focus on other areas of the Torpedo like the body trim including front and rear bumpers and the interior with its unique turntable the seats will be mounted to.

Rob uses the original plaster of Paris 1/24 scale model as his design guide. The below images show the front grill and bumper along with trim around the three headlights and the trim on the rear fenders.

The rear of the Torpedo will get the same polished aluminum treatment. There are a few unique features, such as the “rocket exhaust port,” which is actually a light to use when backing up and the “shark fin” running down the length of the roof. The vertical slots in the rear bumper will be running, brake and directional tail lights.

I’ll leave you with something to watch in your spare time. Rob has been working with Bravo Media to capture the whole process of building the Torpedo on digital media. You can watch the trailer for the documentary here and get to see Rob, his Dad Bob, Sean Tucker, Bob Cuneo and Bob Kerekes, the owner of the Tucker.

Mike Sabocheck
Mike Sabocheck is a Technical Sales Director with Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS. Mike has been with DS SOLIDWORKS for 21 years. Prior to SOLIDWORKS he worked for Xerox for 17 years and then for Intergraph. His specialties are applying SOLIDWORKS to different design and manufacturing processes.