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I know this is out of left field, but I have no idea how they build these prototypes. Granted, computer engineering. But physical making the custom door panels, the beautiful instrument panels, I would love to be able to understand how they do this. I can't imagine there are any books describing how to build this sophisticated of a shape. It completely baffles my imagination. If there are any of the actual design engineers reading this board who make these, how do you do the voodoo you do?
 

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Some talented artist first draws up a beautiful concept. They can then either make a clay model (sculpt) or make a computer model. After that they generate a topographical map of the shape. It's automatically generated by the computer model or with the clay model they can use a laser to get the points or use a 'wand' that has 3D mechanical linkages that read the points along the model's surface. Touch the wand to the model and click the button. Move a little bit along the surface and click the button. Takes some time! Next that topographical map is downloaded to a computer controlled milling machine and a blank of the body panel is milled out. You can make a full body die, lay-up a fiberglass panel, hammer out a metal panel, etc. There are many ways to get the job done. The advent of 3D modeling software and directly connected milling machines has made the process quite simple. :)
 

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I would bet that today they make fiberglass molds directly from the clay models. Many people in the kit car market do that today to make copies of one-off cars.
 

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They have specialized groups of people that make these prototype vehicles. Some of them are made in-house and some of them are shipped out to outside shops. Alot of the prototypes are handmade but they use parts from existing vehicles to piece it all together. The guys who make them are very skilled. I worked at one of those places for a while. Very high stress but very very cool. I always though it would make a great reality TV show.
 
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