Young gun Aidan Donald’s VL Commodore

Super-talented, 21-year-old Aidan Donald is one of Australia’s most exciting young designers


COMPUTER renderings can make our wildest automotive dreams take shape as highly detailed 3D models, and Aidan Donald is right at the cutting edge of this digital wizardry. The super-talented 21-year-old has already designed a bunch of killer streeters for the top-shelf likes of Moits Motorcars, Pat’s Pro Restos, ProFlo Performance and more. He’s also the current Laurie Starling Scholarship winner and the man on the digital crayons for the much-anticipated return of Expression Session in the September issue of Street Machine. We sat down with the proprietor of Aidan’s Design & Illustration to find out how he became one of Australia’s most exciting young designers.

First published in the August 2021 issue of Street Machine

How did you get into drawing cars for a job?

I was doing hand-drawn, photorealistic models of Elite-level cars through Year 11 and 12. I started doing 3D renderings in March 2020 after doing a course at university, where I found I was really good at it. Half the reason I went to uni was to learn CAD.

Were you naturally artistic?

Pretty much. I think it started in Year Two; I was doing a Father’s Day calendar, so I drew Dad’s Triton. The family flipped out at the detail an eight-year-old put into it, but I was a bit oblivious about it. Still, they pushed me to stay with drawing, and I gravitated towards drawing cars.

What sort of computer do you use? I’m guessing it’s not a $500 Gumtree laptop?

The computer is pretty spicy. I spent the majority of my Laurie Starling Scholarship award building a computer that can handle larger models in [solid-modelling software] Fusion 360, but also render faster, because it’s a beefier set-up. It’s purpose-built; custom-specified for rendering and CAD.

Do you only do renders, or has this expanded into other areas like 3D printing?

I’m not doing much 3D printing right now, except for making rapid prototypes when designing custom parts for CNC machining. I sometimes use 3D scanning for this, too. For example, I’m doing a billet grille at the moment, so we had the front end of the car 3D-scanned, and the grille was built within the 3D scan to make sure everything fits, clears and mounts correctly.

Your dad Jeremy is into cars, yeah?

Dad exposed me to cars, but he never pushed me into it. He had a VH Vacationer with a tough 308 and it was one of the most significant cars of my childhood, plus he built a nice VC for a family member. He’s always been into Holdens, and he is a painter and owns his own smash shop.

What’s the story with your VL?

I bought the VL when I was 13 from a bloke around the corner because I thought it would be a cool first car. It was full grandpa-spec, so I had plans to build it, but Dad built it as a surprise for my 16th birthday in 49 days with his mates from the shop. It’s a nice, tidy car, but I do want to do a big build on it with a shaved engine bay, tubs, LS, change the kit up a bit, maybe Forgelines.

Are you frothing at the return of Expression Session in our September issue?

There have been some absolute legends doing Expression Session in the past, so I am very excited. When I was 9 or 10, I’d sit at the kitchen table and try to mimic what Aden Jacobi was drawing in the magazine, and now I’m going to take it on myself!

Are there certain designers or artists who inspire you?

Early on, I’d say Chip Foose, like everyone else. Aden Jacobi was a massive influence with markers and pastels in my drawings. Linda Vesperman, Ryan Carter and James ‘Stomp’ Bailey all influenced me through the years. At the moment, Chris Gray and Mike O’Brien from The Roadster Shop and Khyzyl Saleem’s renderings all inspire me. I’d like to do some more radical renders like Khyzyl.

What cars are you attracted to?I love pro touring cars, but I also love pro street for how tough they are. Elite builds with a lot of attention to detail and thought in the car are just killer, too. I guess I can appreciate thought and effort that goes into the customising people do, like SHQRP and the Down Town Kustoms HT. Aged around 21 or younger and have a neat ride? Send some pics and info to: Young Guns, Street Machine, Locked Bag 12, Oakleigh, Vic 3166 or email us at: [email protected]