Sunday, March 24, 2013

Craft DIY - Cardboard Race Car Tutorial

Step-by-Step Cardboard Box Racer

I created this Race Car for my 5 year old, it took me about a day and a half to make, that includes waiting for paint and glue to dry, etc. It was fairly easy, and the reason I decided to make this tutorial, was because I had to do a large amount of research to even know how to begin to make a car such as this, I borrowed ideas from different sites, mainly pinterest.  And I figured I'd make it easy for some poor parent scouring the internet for Cardboard Box Car Tutorials, hahaha. The majority was my own creativity and freehand drawing.  Hope this is useful!


2 Large Cardboard Boxes
Exacto Knife (Or Box Cutter)
(3) Bottles Spray Paint (color of your choice; I urge you to buy a face mask)
Felt Squares
Glitter Squares (sold where the Felt is sold)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue
Acrylic Paint (color of your choice)

*Note:  A TON of the blogs and sites that provided some "idea" of how to even begin to build such a car, advised against using boxes that closed from the top, and urged to used large boxes that open from the sides, but I didn't have that at home, soooo I did what I could with what I had, so just know that for this tutorial any large box will do...I promise*

Step 1 -

(Please excuse me, but I did not take any measurements, I just 'winged' it.  All I know is that the car was the full size of the large box, if your child is smaller you can definitely make it smaller, unless you're planning one of those cool "drive-in" movie nights, then by all means make it roomy!)

Make your car shape, what I did, was I took the side view of his "Lightning McQueen" car and did a slight variation, but I just did the car outline freehand, as you can tell, the piece above the one that has not been cut, has a ton of lines where I "changed" the look and shape of the car. Use the exacto knife to cut the cardboard shape.

Step 2 -

Tape your sides and your trunk together. Now, the trunk of the car, was just a piece of cardboard left after I cut the sides, and I shaped it to fit together, if your cardboard is new or too stiff, running the exacto knife along the place where you want to curl or bend the box is the best way to go, just be sure not to cut all the way through, just enough to give it some bending room. (I bought the 1/2" masking tape, which I felt was way to thin for this project, but I'd advise to buy both 1/2" for the small parts and a 1 1/2" to 2" for the sides and bigger pieces.)

Step 3 -

Here, I put together the rest of the car by just cutting pieces to fit the sides and trunk, for the front end I had to use the 2nd box to cut a piece for the hood, and I rolled up the cardboard and it was super easy to gather and tape. In one video tutorial, it recommended to hot glue the pieces together, but I have ZERO patience for that, however if you want really clean lines after you paint, then I suggest going the hot glue route. (In one blog that I saw, they used the paper maché method, using starch and newspaper kraft paper, and the car looked super cool and so sturdy, but yeah, I was on a tight budget, so I didn't go that route, but if I ever do make more cars, I'd definitely try that out, it would hide all the masking tape!)

Step 4 - 

Ahhhh, the paint....or in my case, Spray Paint and Acrylic paint.  I highly URGE everyone to buy a face mask, unfortunately the cheapest face masks at Walmart were sold out, so I went all gun-ho and spray painted outdoors...yeah, not a good idea! I was whoozy after the first coat! Anyway, enough about my stupidity.  I did 3 coats of green spray paint, I chose a Glossy finish spray paint and it worked beautifully! For the "seats" and race stripes I used black acrylic paint.  This is where you have to be patient and way a day until everything is completely dry (the spray paint dried in 10 minutes, but I just left it overnight...just in case)

Step 5 - The finishing touches!

The car was made for a "Transportation Week Parade" so he had to walk around with it.  The way I did this, was using an exacto knife, I slit the sides, inserted some canvas rope (about 1" thick) and hot glued the ends.  The only reason it's "tied" up on top, I cut the rope too long, and so I had to improvise! I added some depth to the car by sponge painting "curves" and a "hood". I used Styrofoam plates to make the lights, I drew the "5" on the sides, freehand, and just cut it out of paper, and then drew the felt to serve as a "shadow".  I drew the "Chevy" logo and painted it with some gold paint, and then the lights in the back were also painted red. For his "personalized" license plate, I used a foam picture frame that I found in the bargain bin in the craft section at Walmart ($1!!) For the tires, my 12 year old used a styrofoam plate and cut them from cardboard using an exacto knife, and then I applied the "glitter" foam sheet as a "rim".

The Reveal -

I took pictures of all the cars after the parade was over, just to give everyone an idea of what other sorts of cardboard cars or transportation vehicles you can create (there was even an ice cream truck!) I hope you liked my tutorial, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments section below.


  1. This is very cool - thanks for posting this tutorial.

  2. "And I figured I'd make it easy for some poor parent scouring the internet for Cardboard Box Car Tutorials" Seriously - you wrote this for me, so THANK YOU!

    1. Hahaha! You're welcome and I hope it was helpful!!

  3. You are amazing! In my school we re trying to create a play this year, and we made to race cars like yours as a part of our scenography! They turned out perfect, I honestly don't know what we would do without you. We attached the car to a small cart, so we can drive it around and I love it. We did use the paper-mache methode, just to make sure it wouldn't fell apart, but otherwise ... speechless. THANK YOU!!!

  4. So how big is the finish project??

  5. Thank you sooooooo much!! This is an awesome tutorial and I am sooooo glad that I came across your blog while searching --yup, you guessed it--how to make a cardboard car. This was super helpful and very easy to understand.

    Thanks again!

  6. What size was the box you used?

  7. Love it!! I'm having my son's 4th birthday party in a couple of weeks and his theme is hot wheels so I was thinking to create several cardboard cars for the kids to play with... not sure if is doable, since I'll be having about 20 kids over!! perhaps I'll make about 10 and they can take turns. Thanks for taking the time to make the tutorial!

  8. I want to thank you for this Excellent post. I enjoying this article so much and I have bookmarked your website for future check


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