Computer Aided Technology customer Classic Car Studio in St. Louis, Mo. started off as a traditional buy-and-sell classic cars operation when they opened their doors in 2006, but soon expanded into all sorts of restoration and custom car build projects. Now, with an over 40,000-square-foot facility housing over 100 cars and 15 technicians, their product development solutions have grown along with the company.
First, let’s take a tour of the shop from the Classic Car Studio YouTube channel:
“Classic car restoration and custom building these days is like an escalating arms race,” says designer and engineer Nick Leidenfrost. “Everybody’s getting into the newest technology to help them create cooler and more intricate designs. It’s really impressive what the industry’s doing now, and SOLIDWORKS is a big player across the board for companies on our tier of the profession, where we’re really trying to put out custom cars that look like they’re classic. The trend these days that I’m seeing is custom cars that look like something that Chevy or Ford might’ve put out in 1965, if they had the technology that we have now,” Nick says. The technology of today with the beauty of a classic car? That’s the dream. The sky’s the limit when it comes to Classic Car Studio’s custom requests. They see all kinds of ideas coming from customers, and it’s Nick’s job to help turn that dream into a reality with SOLIDWORKS.
“What will happen is someone out in the shop will have either a bracket he needs to make, or a motor mount, or something along these lines, and they’ll come to me with a design they want, and I’ll draw it up in SOLIDWORKS,” Nick explains. “I spend a lot of my time with the sheet metal feature, then basically go cut it out on the plasma table. The coolest thing about the sheet metal feature for us is that we do a lot of stuff with a sheet metal magnetic brake here. That allows you to do a folded box bend, bending the metal 360° onto itself. SOLIDWORKS helps with that because in the sheet metal feature, you kind of see how it is all folded up, and then basically unfold it, and that can really help there.”
Before getting SOLIDWORKS this past year, Nick and his team were creating everything by hand. But after seeing what you could do with SOLIDWORKS and milling work, it convinced him to seek a higher tech solution. With a background in 3D modeling from animation programs like 3DS Max, Nick was able to catch on quickly to SOLIDWORKS and get up to speed in his designing.
“Being able to iterate on something is a huge benefit with SOLIDWORKS with the parametric aspect of it,” Nick says. In the custom car building world, building someone’s dream car can take 12–18 months. “Especially with the pressure on us to put out well-designed and well-executed custom cars, there’s so much time that we invest in them, but little efficiencies where we’re able to take advantage of being able to replicate something, those things have made a big difference in our last year or so since we’ve had SOLIDWORKS.”
And it’s not just the sheet metal feature and modeling that SOLIDWORKS has helped with. SOLIDWORKS helps print end-use parts in-house with Classic Car Studio’s 3D printer, saving Nick and their customers time and money. “Most of what we’re printing these days are either cosmetic or interior parts, things like bevels around cup holders, or trim pieces inside the interior. We 3D-printed a cool set of hood vents for one of our builds last year, a Chevrolet SSR from about 2004. We crammed a LSA into that car, high-performance, super-charged engine, and it was getting pretty hot in the engine compartment, so that was a nice functional aspect of the design.”
If you work with the sheet metal feature like Nick, check out our Sheet Metal Tips and Tricks webinar here: