Blogs - automotive fabrications guide - welding machine at work

How To Build A Car: A Guide To Automotive Fabrication

The vehicle manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to the world economy and brings in billions of pounds every year. There is no question that cars are the most popular form of transportation across the globe and their design is an incredibly well-thought-through process. In fact, the popularity of cars in the world is quite staggering when you look at the figures. The current estimation predicts that there are 1.446 billion cars on Earth. Considering the population of the world currently stands at 7.888 billion that is a pretty staggering number. So, how do all of these cars find themselves on the road? In this blog, we’ll dive into this topic to try and answer the question: how do you build your own car?

The History of Car Design

When the Austrian designer and engineer Karl Benz invented the first true automobile he would never have expected the transportation method to sweep through the globe quite as much as it did. His car was powered by an internal combustion engine and had just three wheels. The vehicle was the first true car as any previous attempts to power a personal vehicle with steam power were met with relative failure and very little practicality.

The Production Line

In 1908 the next real step forward in car design occurred when Ford produced the first-ever car to be built using a production line. The Model T featured a 20 horsepower engine which enabled the vehicle to reach speeds of up to 45 mph which was still slower than a horse. Though, this advancement in manufacturing technology meant that the price of cars was greatly reduced and, for the first time in history, convenient personal transport became somewhat accessible.

Electric Ignition

You may know these early car designs from their funky features such as the famous hand cranks located on the front grill. These hand cranks were the original method of starting these cars and they were notoriously challenging to use. Dislocated joints and broken bones were not uncommon and they made driving these vehicles a touch challenging at times and especially difficult in cold weather.

Though, in 1911, the pain of starting your vehicle with a manual crank finally ended with the invention of electric ignition. The first example of an electric ignition motor used within a production car is the 1912 Cadillac Touring.

Coil Spring Suspension

The early cars were, unfortunately, notoriously uncomfortable. Their wooden chassis and hard tyres meant for an unbearable ride at times and people would often complain about general discomfort after a journey. The manufacturers simply had to come up with a solution as it threatened the potential of the car revolution. So, what was their solution? Well, it all came down to coil spring suspension.

Manufacturers created a solution where each wheel had its own coil spring which compressed and released itself as and when the car moved over bumps on the road. This drastically reduced the discomfort that many people experienced on the road and paved the way for the car to explode in popularity.

Power Steering

Another consistent issue with the early examples of cars was the problem of slow-speed manoeuvring. The manual wheel operation meant that manoeuvres were more of a workout than anything else and required a huge amount of physical effort to complete. In 1951 this all changed with the invention of power steering and its implementation in the Chrysler Imperial.

How To Build a Car

So, let’s say you have just acquired the most advanced state-of-the-art car factory and you want to build your very own car. In fact, let’s take it one step further. Your dream is to design, develop and build your car taking every possible step into your own hands. What are the tricks of the trade and how would you build this car? Continue reading to find out.

Designing

The first step which you will have to complete is the design of the car. In the automotive industry, this usually features multiple teams working on various aspects of the design and one central group of designers that create the overall look of the vehicle. With your own factory though you will have complete freedom so you’ll have some pretty sizable questions to answer. First of all, you’re going to have to decide which route you’re going down when it comes to the general theme of the design.

Naturally, there are many options to choose from when it comes to this question and you will need to choose between themes such as futuristic design, practical functionality, and vintage throwbacks. Once you’ve concluded your design themes you can finally start to draw up your new car.

In this sector of vehicle manufacturing, there is one famous technique which (if you are an avid petrolhead) you have probably heard of. This process is, of course, clay modelling. The use of clay to produce miniature and sometimes lifesize models of cars is a technique that has existed for some time and will allow you to fine-tune your design. If you choose to employ industry experts during this phase you will find yourself staggered by the level of detail which these designers will get from these clay models.

So, you’ve figured out how your car is going to look to passers-by but what about the design of the practical elements? There are thousands of mechanical components within a car that must be designed and manufactured to incredibly detailed specifications. So, you will need to think long and hard about elements such as engine placement, gearbox location, and suspension capabilities.

Manufacturing

Now you’ve designed your car and it’s all about building it. As you might well expect there are a whole host of options available when it comes to building and assembling your car. Perhaps you’re a purist and prefer the traditional approach of building the chassis and then creating the frame of the car above this base. Though, for purposes of this blog, let’s imagine you’re a progressive and opt for the modern approach to things.

In this case, your car will be built from one whole frame. Essentially this means that there will be no traditional chassis. Instead, the entire car will form the chassis making the structure incredibly strong and durable. You might well be asking what about the rest of your car, after you’ve built the frame how do you manufacture everything else? Well, we’ll try and run through the basics for you.

The Body

The main body of the car is made using rolls of steel which are shaped using fabrication techniques. Custom steel fabrication is an essential part of this process and will help your car to maintain its strength and design. These steel frames are then welded together to create a rigid skeleton.

Painting

Before any painting starts on your new car you’ll need to clean down the steel body. You may well think the body is already clean but in fact, there will still be a lot of small areas of dust stuck to the metal and this will cause havoc in the painting process. So, cleaning the body is essential to a great finish. There are a few other measures which you will have to complete before you actually start to get any colour on your new car. First of all, the frame will have to be dipped in a series of anti-corrosion solutions to ensure the frame can remain strong throughout. Then the body will be painted in an undercoat and only then will it be ready for the final paint.

Once you’ve completed these areas of the build you’re finally ready for the finishing touches! You’ll need to add the engine and some interior embellishments and you’re all set. Of course, these elements are extremely complex but with an up-to-date car factory, anything is possible.

Here at Staffordshire Fabrications, we are experts in automotive manufacturing and our specific skills lie in automotive fabrication. So, if you need any advice on this subject then get in touch with us today and speak with our knowledgeable and friendly team!