Historic Zethrin Car Case Study

Historic Zethrin Car Case Study

High-accuracy 3D scanning technology assists the building of Zethrin

Physical Digital® was commissioned by James Andrews, an historic car enthusiast, to provide high-accuracy 3D scanning of the scale model of a car he is building, influenced by Val Zethrin who took over the Squire Car Manufacturing company in 1937.  

3D scanning for fast, accurate data  

Inspired to use modern technology to help him recreate the historic car, Mr Andrews found Physical Digital’s website and at the first phone call he found engineers who understood his needs and could offer exactly what he needed.  

The GOM ATOS III non-contact 3D scanner used by Physical Digital offers a fast, accurate and cost-effective way to collect the physical data of the model’s measurements.  

From history to new technology 

Mr Andrews’s grandfather A G Andrews was Val Zethrin’s godfather and was evidently a keen early motorist himself – here he is with his family in his 1908 Belsize (he later owned a Hispano-Suiza):

AG Andrews In Old Car

Adrian Squire had created seven superb and very expensive sports cars by 1937 when the company finally went into liquidation. It appears that Zethrin bought the last car and all the parts and spares when Squire gave up the company. Zethrin and Squire had probably met at the Brooklands Racetrack when Squire was running his first sports car in a race. Evidently some of the spares owned by Zethrin ended up with his godfather A G Andrews, a fellow car enthusiast. The parts thus ended up in the Andrews’ family estate where they languished for a number of years.

When his father died in 2007, James Andrews inherited a number of boxes of Zethrin’s car components which had been stored in a barn at a family house on the Isle of Wight. To aid him in his quest to create this historic sports car, he was referring to a drawing from 1953 which showed the basic intent of the designer ‘BGB’:

Zethrin 53 Sketch

It is possible that the artist whose initials appear on the sheet of paper was Benjamin George Bowden, the highly-regarded automotive and cycle designer. He designed an armored car used by Winston Churchill and King George VI in World War II and also designed the Healey Elliott, which in 1947 was the first British car to break the 100mph barrier. He became a member of the Society of Industrial Artists and in the 1950s moved to the States, where he died in 1998 at the age of 91. Note that this car design has a very low windscreen and no doors – the driver and passenger will jump into and out of the vehicle.

When Mr Andrews, an engineer from the timber industry, discovered the car parts in 2007, he decided to work on recreating the car himself, bringing in expertise only when absolutely necessary.  

Mr Andrews had worked at Aston Martin in the 1970s, so had a headstart in motor engineering.  By summer 2014 he had achieved the rolling chassis with 700mm diameter tyres, seen in his workshop.

Zethrin Rolling Chassis

To aid the construction of the bodywork of the vehicle, Mr Andrews mocked up a 1:5 scale model from the original drawing. At this stage he had intended to ‘do the math’ himself, by drawing lines across the model and using squared paper to scale it up to the real size. However, he soon realised that there must be a more up-to-date method for scaling up the model car.

1 To 5 Scale Model

Mr Andrews' 1:5 scale model as scanned by Physical Digital's expert team

Physical Digital's high-accuracy 3D scanning systems captured the measurement data of the model and the design team scaled the model up to a full size sports car and gave it a perfect surface. What would have been a laborious mathematical exercise has now been achieved in a fraction of the time. 

As an enthusiastic amateur, Mr Andrews’ aim now is to work gradually on the sports car – and Physical Digital will be helping at crucial points along the way. So far, the rolling chassis (a Riley special chassis, slightly modified), brakes and radiator are up and running. The engine is being rebuilt and is a highly modified Riley 2.5litre engine putting out about 180bhp. Next will be the bodywork. The intention is to build an aluminium body over tubular steel as per the original drawing.

Zethrin Combination Of Photogrammetry And 3D Scan Data

Maybe all aficionados need a vision to inspire them. Mr Andrews sees himself driving an oxblood red sports car across Canada and down the west coast of America sometime in 2019…proof that the classic spirit of the adventurous 1930s car enthusiast lives on today!

For more details on how our 3D scanning services can transform your project - whether brand new or historic - contact us.


New York Times Obituary: Benjamin Bowden March 23, 1998

The Independent Obituary: Ben Bowden Friday 13 March 1998

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