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Making Of '1936 Auburn Speedster 03'

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(Score 4.75 out of 5 after 8 Votes)
Date Added: 13th July 2010
Software used:


It's a great feeling to be able to create something that I will probably never be able to own or afford. At least this way I can still appreciate the curves, but unfortunately not the horse power. There's something about modelling in 3D... it might be referenced from somewhere (in my case), but at the end it's something you've put together yourself.   Sometimes I get carried away and imagine the car racing along the open road, with me in it, dressed in the correct period wardrobe. I can't help thinking of The Great Gatsby in this case.  I'm not a big reader but this was one of the first connections I made with the Auburn.

Since modelling the Auburn I watched an Indiana Jones movie (not the latest one) and at the beginning there's a car chase where Indi is being escorted by "Shorty" in an Auburn.  Having never seen this car before, it made quite an impact on me. I was motivated firstly by the uniqueness of the Auburn and secondly by the fact that it is an old vehicle - a classic!  I suppose it's just the connection you make with something, not necessarily a thought out process.

I enjoy modelling cars in general, but the classics are just fascinating to me. They have a well-developed, distinguishable character that most modern cars just don't have. There is always a historic story attached to a great classic, such as this one.

Here's an extract taken from about the classic Auburn vehicle:

Employing imaginative designers such as Alan Leamy and Gordon Buehrig, Cord built cars that became famous for their advanced engineering as well as their striking appearance, e.g., the 1928 Auburn Boattail Speedster, the Model J Duesenbergs, the 1935?37 Auburn Speedsters and the 810/812 Cords.

Styling and engineering failed to overcome the fact that Cord's vehicles were too expensive for the Depression-era market and that Cord's stock manipulations would force him to give up control of his car companies. Under injunction from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to refrain from further violations, Cord sold his shares in his automobile holding company. In 1937, production of Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs ended.

The company's art deco headquarters in Auburn now houses the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum. It was made a National Historic Landmark in 2005.

Within my career of animation/3D, my primary skill is as a character animator, but every so often I also like to model a car. I like the challenge of modelling cars because there is so much detail that can go into it; so much detail that can potentially translate into a beautiful render. Finding this car was by accident really, but when I first saw it I thought, "This is a good one."

Getting into 3D was more of a dream for me, because of various factors in my life. But after studying graphic design and working for an advertising agency for some years, the opportunity rose for me to study 3D. I grabbed it with both hands and it's been an adventure ever since. My main aim is to work on an animated feature as a character animator. I may or may not enjoy the experience, because one sometimes creates an ideal image of the perfect working environment, but I would still like to experience it. For now I'm getting some great experience working where I am as a 3D generalist.


The first step with this piece was to get some reference pictures. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any blueprints so I found as many pictures of the Auburn from different angles as I could. The only snag to this process was that I found about three or four different variations of the car; fortunately though, the main differences were the trims/add-ons (headlights, wheels, etc.). Then in XSI I created some profile curves. I used the curves as guidelines, not to actually generate any geometry from, as I used polygons to model (cube, sphere) (Fig.01 and Fig.02).

Fig. 01

Fig. 02

Once I had the basic shape of the car's body done, I went in and added the finer details (creases and bevels). Some areas didn't look resolved to start with, but as I added detail and kept switching from subs (sub-divided/smoothed version) to hulls (low poly) it came together. That was the hard part!

All the extra bits that made up the finished car were modelled after that. The modelling was quite straight forward; it was just a matter of getting the curves and creases in the correct places (Fig.03, Fig.04, Fig.05 and Fig.06).

Fig. 03

Fig. 04

Fig. 05

Fig. 06

continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Alan on Wed, 01 February 2017 12:02am
Quite Beautiful . Would it be possible to get an obj or .3ds .dae model of this sent to me without the wheel and steering wheel? I would love to be able to drive it in GTR2
Tom on Sat, 13 July 2013 10:22pm
Beautiful model, nice work
Uphillrunner on Mon, 09 January 2012 9:54am
Hi Nick, I've only seen your comment now. If you want to get hold of me please send me an email. You can find it at the top of this page.
Nick on Sat, 23 July 2011 3:53am
i was looking at your model and wondered if i could get a copy of the file sent to me as i create parts for the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum and this would be great to show as a model
Anup on Sat, 19 February 2011 7:20am
love modelling in xsi, not m%% or m$$$
Munkybutt's Avatar
Chunkymunky (Forums) on Fri, 25 June 2010 9:17am
Yeah autodesk is onto global domination, and just about owns everything now lol
Munkybutt's Avatar
Raul (Forums) on Thu, 24 June 2010 4:38pm
awesome works buddy! :)And by the way, to the mods. It is called Autodesk Softimage now. Not Softimage XSI. Only the old school guys ( which is problably must of us, lol ) call it xsi.
Munkybutt's Avatar
Uphillrunner (Forums) on Thu, 24 June 2010 8:10am
Thanks for the comments. No reason for using Nuke over Softimage for comping. The program was available for me to use, so I thought I would check it out. The comp was very basic anyway.
Steve on Thu, 24 June 2010 4:50am
I'm guessing he used nuke just to have more control over the final output, a lot of 3D apps have compositing built in, but you can more likely get better control in a comping software.
Fisheep on Thu, 24 June 2010 4:37am
i need this car,thanks~~~
Munkybutt's Avatar
Raul (Forums) on Wed, 23 June 2010 7:22pm
I personally get excited when i see fellow softimage users making tutorials! Pretty cool tut! I too wondered that, the built in compositor is pretty able. Is there something that you use nuke in particular?
Wherner on Wed, 23 June 2010 12:22pm
Why use Nuke to comp it? XSI has a built in compositor?
Munkybutt's Avatar
Chunkymunky (Forums) on Wed, 23 June 2010 10:29am
Beautiful car :) Superb step by step modelling, very good indeed :)
Munkybutt's Avatar
Leonhart (Forums) on Wed, 23 June 2010 10:23am
Wow, thanks!:)))
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