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How to Build a Scale Model of Your Car

This car started as a scale model.
Luxury Car sportscar from my luxury car series image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com

Scale models are facsimiles of objects that are smaller or larger than the object itself. Almost every large building, park and invention you have ever seen is the product of a scale model or prototype that came before it. Automobiles also begin their lives as concept drawings that are turned into scale models before any production starts. You can pay tribute to your cherished vehicle by creating a scale model of it the same way that the large automakers do, using clay.

Measuring Your Vehicle

Measure the length of your car from the taillight to the headlight. Measure the height of the car from the ground to the roof. Write down these measurement in feet and inches.

Measure across the back and front of your vehicle. Record the length and width of the hood and trunk (if applicable).

Record the length and width of the roof of the car, as well as the length and width of each window and door.

Choose a scale on which to make your model. The scale refers to the ratio of the size of the model to the original objects, or the size that the object would appear to be if seen from a certain distance. There are many types of scales. For this project, 1:24 scale for model cars is recommended. For this scale, 1 foot equals 1/2 inch. You may choose to use 1 foot = 1 inch (1:12), or 1 foot = 2 inches (1:6).

Convert your measurements of your vehicle into the scale you have chosen. For example, if you measured the length of your car to be 10 feet, the scaled measurement will be 5 inches (10 times 1/2 equals 5, and feet are converted to inches). You will do this for every measurement you have taken.

Mold the clay into a shape roughly similar to your vehicle. Do not worry about details here, just get the rough shape. The clay should be shaped according to your scaled measurements from section 1. You will likely use the entire clay block and form it according to the measurements from headlight to taillight, from ground to roof and from left side to right side. Include the shape of the four tires in your design, as well.

Open the sculpting kit and remove the tools. The kit should include a sculpting knife, rollers, scoops and other instruments. Use these tools to continue to shape the larger details of the car. Use the sculpting knife and tape measure to make marks indicating where the windows and doors will go and how they should be properly spaced. Also, make a line with the knife showing the outline of the hood and trunk.

Add the smaller details of the car with the tools. Fully mark the outline of the windows and doors with the tools according to the marks you made previously. Do this by pressing the sculpting knife lightly into the surface of the clay leaving visible lines. Include the front and back windshields. Also, finish detailing the hood and trunk. Lastly, make the headlights, taillights and grill area.

Use the tools and extra clay to add details to make the model look as authentic as possible. You can create a hood ornament, license plate, detailed tire marks and whatever other details you desire.

Things You'll Need:

  • Tape measure
  • Notepad
  • Pen
  • 2 pounds of modeling clay
  • Clay sculpting kit


Clay sculpting kits can be found at hobby stores.

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