Classic Cars Rebuilt with SOLIDWORKS: the Tucker Carioca Project

Since the last blog back in January introducing the Tucker Carioca project, a number of tasks have been initiated to start the design work. Building a car from scratch, which will be the case here, involves many elements in order to build a car that is true to its original intent. Rob Ida and Sean Tucker have proven to be very capable of re-creating Preston Tucker’s dreams as proven with the Tucker Torpedo project and the Tucker ’48 restorations they have completed in the past. Each project left no detail out, no matter how small or insignificant.

To get the Carioca project off the ground some of the major driveline components were procured such as the Franklin aircraft engine and the Volkswagen transaxle. These are older components; both are probably 50+ years old at this point. They will have to be re-built and brought back to like-new condition. Nothing out of the ordinary that Rob and Sean can’t handle.

Since the Carioca will be designed in SOLIDWORKS, the engine and transaxle needed to be laser scanned so a digital representation can be used to aid in creating a 3D model of each. We enlisted the help of Trimech, our SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller, which also represents Artec 3D Scanners. Mike Souders from Trimech did the laser scanning using the handheld Artec Eva scanner. This scanner did a great job producing a mesh model of the engine and transaxle.  We’ll use SOLIDWORKS to re-create a solid model from the mesh data. Here’s Mike working on the scans.

SOLIDWORKS can open the mesh file created during the scanning process and manipulate it. It can be left in its original state as a mesh body or used as a reference to model both components in SOLIDWORKS as solid geometry. Here’s the scans opened in SOLIDWORKS.

The fidelity of the 3D scans is incredible! Small details are easily captured, which allowed us to use the 3D scans to start working on the packaging of the engine and transaxle inside the body structure. This early work on the components would be nearly impossible to do without the 3D scans. Without them, we would need to do a ton of work to re-create the engine and transaxle from scratch in SOLIDWORKS.

The scans also allowed us to try different positions of the engine and transaxle assembly inside of the body structure. Since the body of the car tapers towards to rear, it was very important to understand whether the engine and transaxle would fit properly. Here’s some examples of what we are looking at with the fitting in SOLIDWORKS.

As you can see the engine and transaxle will be a tight fit inside the body, and this doesn’t include the ducting for cooling the engine. The ducting will bring in outside air through vents along each side of the rear of the body and direct it to the two fans. The fans will be used to keep a constant flow of air over the cylinder heads while the Carioca is stopped. We’ll be enlisting the help of an aerodynamicist to help us understand the air flow and how best to design the ducting.

In the next blog I’ll review the design work done on the body structure and introduce a new member of the Carioca Project Team.


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.