Recreating vintage Dundee car

Published

6th April 2024

The only motor car that was ever designed and built in Dundee has finally come back to the city. Only this time, the Werbell is a 3D-printed replica model, made to scale (1:12) by Abertay University Computer Arts student Ellie Smith, and it’s now on display at Dundee Museum of Transport.

The Werbell was named after the two brothers who created it – William and Edward Raikes-Bell – in their automobile workshop in South Ward Road, and it was manufactured from 1907 to 1909. With its 4084cc petrol engine, supplied by Coventry-based makers White and Poppe, and its elegant design, the Werbell touring car was much loved by Scottish motoring enthusiasts.

Two Werbells were entered in the 1907 Scottish Reliability Trial for Touring Cars – one achieved 8th in Class 3 and the other finished 11th in Class 4 – and a Werbell was shown at the Scottish Motor Exhibition in Edinburgh in 1909. On 25 February 1908, the brothers even managed to drive a Werbell up to the top the Dundee Law, despite there being no road at the time.
 
Less than 10 Werbells were ever produced, and the first – a grey four-seater with side entrance – was registered on 24 June 1907. The Earl of Strathmore, of Glamis Castle, is also believed to have owned one of the last Werbells, a five-seater built in 1909.
 
Sadly, no Werbells survived but vintage car enthusiasts can finally see what the Werbell looked like up close, thanks to the 3D design and printing skills of Ellie Smith, with support from Gerry High and the Engineering Services Department at Abertay University.

The first steps involved creating digital images and ‘wireframe’ diagrams. This data was then used to 3D print the model in layered resin using a hardening technique. The Werbell components were printed in separate sections and a steel chassis added to make the model more robust. Finally, Ellie hand-sprayed the finished car in dark blue, an original Werbell colour option. Finer details where then hand-painted onto the model.
 
“Creating the original software model was challenging because I only had a side-view photo to work from, but I was able to find other photographs showing vintage cars from the same period, from different angles,” she explains. “Making it structurally sound was also a challenge,” she says, “especially the wheels. Delicate areas like the mudguards had to be printed separately, then glued to the frame.”
  
“We’re delighted with the Werbell model that Ellie has created,” says Dundee Museum of Transport Trustee, Rod Mountain. “This project has enabled us to bring to life an important and unique piece of Dundee’s motoring heritage, and it’s always exciting to work with students and staff from a local university.
 
“The modelling work that Ellie has undertaken can easily be scaled up, and we hope that this project may be the first step in bringing a full-size replica of the Werbell to the Dundee Museum of Transport.”

Dundee Museum of Transport

Dundee Museum of Transport was established in 2010 with the aim of saving and re-developing the site of the former Maryfield Tram Depot. The Museum, currently situated on Market Street in Dundee, opened in 2014 and has become a popular attraction among the City's thriving heritage scene.

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