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Picture of Airplane Prop Car Accessory

Hi All,

A friend of mine, who is a pilot, was getting married, so me and my brother-in-laws thought up this project as a way to spruce up the newlyweds' drive-away car.

This airplane prop is a fully 3D printed assembly, except for two screws and 10 air-soft bb's for the ball bearing. Once assembled and mounted, the propeller spins via wind power as you drive. I've taken it up to 55 mph, and it works swell.

Before we get started, I would like to give a shout out to Brian Bartlow, a.k.a. TheRooster, on Thingiverse. I integrated his 608 ball bearing into the axle and front-plate of my Airplane Prop to help smooth the motion a bit. So many thanks to him and his excellent work.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Tools Needed:

- 3D Printer with minimum build volume of 7.5 in x 7.5 in x 4.5 in (190mm x190mm x115mm)

Materials Needed:

- Plastic Printer Filament (I used PLA)

- 8x 6mm BB's

- 2x Small Wood Screws

PeterJ1554 months ago
In the UK it is not illegal to add a bonnet mascot. but the law says:-

Regulation 53 Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states: "No mascot, emblem or other ornamental object shall be carried by a motor vehicle first used on or after 1 October 1937 in any position where it is likely to strike any person with whom the vehicle may collide unless the mascot is not liable to cause injury to such person by reason of any projection theron."

Section 40A Road Traffic Act 1988 as amended by the Road Traffic Act 1991 states: "a person is guilty of an offence if he uses, or causes or permits another to use, a motor vehicle.... on a road when.... the condition of the vehicle..., or of its accessories or equipment.... is such that the use of the motor vehicle.... involves a danger of injury to any person."

I suspect that your propeller would be in breach of both of these regulations.
In any case, most modern cars have rounded, sloped fronts to minimize the damage to pedestrians should they be involved in an accident. This device does the opposite IMHO. You would also be liable to pay damages in court.
JG49 PeterJ15516 days ago
Plus your vehicle's insurance would be null & void if you hit someone or something, especially if you hadn't informed them...
Actually the modern car is designed to be more efficient at passing thru air to help with gas consumption. That is why before they release a new model they go thru extensive research and development and the mock up cars are put thru tests in a wind tunnel. Sorry but the rounded noses of cars are for air streaming capabilities and not for pedestrians. Same with airplanes.
It's both. Part of the Euro NCAP rating procedure is to evaluate how well or badly vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) fare if involved in an impact. The shape of the front of the vehicle has a major influence on that rating. See
It talks about "forgiving geometries"
Hi Peter that seems to be a rating procedure in Europe. We have them here in the states and they are for info purposes. I checked the site out and did not see any mention that these ratings are enforced by law. There are many models of cars, SUVs, trucks etc and not all have a rounded hood. It all boils down to how fast the car is going and how hard the pedestrian is hit. Otherwise all vehicles would look exactly the same and there would be no need for different car companies. I will agree that in some cases the nose shape does matter but car makers make the design for profit looks and how well it cuts through air. Bottom line is dollars, pounds, etc. Let's agree to semi disagree :)
hmm wonder how the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy fairs?
so if you're in the UK don't build one
Warped1 gcai_fwb4 months ago
From the wiki: Today's Spirit of Ecstasy, from the 2003 Phantom model onward, stands at 3 inches and, for safety, is mounted on a spring-loaded mechanism designed to retract instantly into the radiator shell if struck from any direction. There is a button within the vehicle which can raise/lower the emblem when pressed.
jlaake (author)  PeterJ1554 months ago
Hmm. Thanks for the info.
good to keep in mind for any UK travels
The creator is I suspect in North America the car is a left hooker and he uses the word "swell". The rules are probably completely different.
JoeyLogs2 months ago
I wonder how much power that would actually generate as a wind turbine
ohoilett3 months ago
Cool! Can we see a video of it spinning while you're driving?
LeslieGeee4 months ago
LOL FUNNY and a GREAT idea and if people are worried about it being in front I think the angle of the blades would make it work like a helicopter propeller so make the blades bigger get some niobium magnets and stick it on the roof lol.
jlaake (author)  LeslieGeee4 months ago
great idea
BrianM606 jlaake4 months ago
Did you mean neodymium magnets?
Hi Biran, No, niobium magnets. :) I use them all the time.
Okay. I just was confused because: (a) I had not heard of niobium magnets (but I had heard of neodymium magnets) and (b) when I googled "niobium magnets" it came up only with neodymium magnets. However I did find where niobuim is used for superconducting magnets. I just didn't thing superconducting magnets were available for general use.
alcurb4 months ago
Nice-looking prop props hood ornament thingy!

I was thinking that if this prop ornament becomes a legal issue, it could be mounted in the back and call it a push-prop.
jlaake (author)  alcurb4 months ago
Thanks, yes mounting it on the rear is certainly an option.
KarenP1774 months ago
I don't think you would be allowed to put anything on the front that would obscure even part of your field of vision, but it would be fun on the back. I remember in the 60's when VW Beetles were the "fun" car, and people would do all sorts of things to them, including put a fake wind-up key on the back held with a suction cup. Using your design to put a revolving wind-up key on the back of a Smart Car could be just as funny.
DouglasB934 months ago
This makes me want to make a propeller beanie for the top of a Smart Car.
jlaake (author)  DouglasB934 months ago
That would be awsome, I would love to see such a remix.
gcai_fwb4 months ago
what a hoot! maybe to assuage all the naysayers you could mount it on the back and have a pusher prop instead of a puller - see the many "propellers" made to mount on trailer hitches
jlaake (author)  gcai_fwb4 months ago
I hadn't thought of that...great idea
AndrewHoover4 months ago
What a great project!
I laughed out loud seeing thas as I scrolled through the email. I love it and I bet they did too.

Very creative and fun and I'm sure it looks amazing spinning down the road.
jlaake (author)  AndrewHoover4 months ago
Thanks, glad you liked it.
Its definately one of the most enjoyable projects I have done.
ladyconductor4 months ago
I love this idea of yours! It is a perfect gift for a pilot! Unfortunately, we elderly and have no clue how to use or have access to a 3-D printer, etc. I am writing because my husband's 84th Birthday is July 20. He is a retired helicopter pilot, from both military (Korea & Vietnam), and civilian retired HP as well. I was wondering if you would be willing to make another one. I would be willing to purchase, if we can agree on a price. Can you please get back to me at
Thank you! Even if you are unable to do this for me, it is a GREAT idea!
craftyv4 months ago
I really like this I think it's great fun BUT: I think it's illegal because of the safety issue. I think your not allowed to add to the front of a car because if you bumped into someone crossing the st. the blades and protusions will do a lot of damage. Also if the blades flew off they could be fatal. I'm not being negative rather alerting you to a possible problem. (I got a fine for having a car club plaque which was quite flat.) Good luck, It's still funny.
jlaake (author)  craftyv4 months ago
Thanks for your comment.
I'm pretty sure such a mod as this is legal, at least where I live.
Regardless, if you bumped into someone crossing the street, even in a car without a prop on the front, there is going to be a lot of damage caused.
Also the blades are tightly secured to the prop, so I wouldn't worry about them flying off.