Parents seem to have all sorts of stories about how they go through a long drawn process of searching for a special toy for their child, but only find out their child end up having more fun with the box. All it takes is a little bit of effort to increase this fascination by taking a few cardboard boxes and turning them into race cars, which will also provide you with more storage space for additional toys. If your children are over 3 or 4 years old, you can even cut out a hole in the underside of the box so they can run races in their “real” cars.

How to Make a Cardboard Car

Although it may seem like a daunting task, it is actually fairly straightforward to make acardboard car for your child. Just follow these steps and you will be set.

Step 1

The very first thing you need to do is to gather your materials. Imagination is the key for making substitutions when necessary. These instructions are based on one size box, but you can easily adapt them. The following list shows the materials and tools you need to make the cardboard car.

  • Cardboard boxes
  • Snack paper plate
  • Box cutter and scissors
  • Black paint
  • Silver glitter and other decorations
  • Nut and bolt
  • Spray adhesive
  • Glue (a strong adhesive like rubber cement)
  • Duct or packing tape
  • Markers, pens, or pencils

Step 2

Mark the point on the larger cardboard box that is six inches from the top edge along the wide side. Then draw a curve going from this mark down to the lower edge in front. Cut out following this line, but only go through one layer of the cardboard. You can then use this piece of cardboard as a guide to repeat the process, cutting the same exact curve on the box’s opposite side.

Step 3

Open your cardboard and then cut three inches from its upper center flap. From here measure and make marks, then score at one inch, two inches, and four inches. Let the flap fold at six inches. Then measure an additional ¾ inch and make a slit so there is just one inch left uncut on either side.

Then measure 4 ¼ inches onto each direction of the center panel and make a straight lie going through the bottom flap. Finally measure eight more inches, then create a straight line with scoring on the sides; once again just going up to the bottom flap’s top. Then cut along your fold line found between your score line and cut. This forms the doors.

Step 4

You will have one more end piece to use to make the hood. Cut off seven inches from the top flap and then measure, mark, and finally score at intervals of : ½ inch, 1 ½ inches, 4 ¼ inches, and 6 ¼ inches down. Then make vertical scores in one inch intervals along the rest of the end piece, but leave the end flap whole. Create a horizontal score down along every side of the end flap and end piece, an inch away from the edge. Next cut through so you reach these horizontal score lines at every vertical score. Finally cut an inch score line off of each side of your end flap. 

Step 5

Spray every one of your prepared cardboard pieces with adhesive and then carefully lay out your wrapping paper to decorate it. Smooth out the winkles, pressing firmly down on the center of the paper before going out towards the edges. Use duct tape inside the hood to attach it to the main body of your cardboard car. Be sure to curve by your score lines, so it fits the side profile.

Step 6

Take the bottom flaps, fold, glue, and then tape them into place but keep the top portion of the back flap temporarily loose. Use colored duct tape to wrap the corners and edges. Opt for gray tape for the inside of the doors and the windshield. All this tape adds some stability.

Step 7

Take the smaller box and cut out a curve for the trunk on every 12-inch side with the same technique from step two. Cut two one-inch strips going along the shorter portion of your leftover 16-inch side. Score the last piece along intervals of one inch. Tape the one-inch strips at right angles on each curved side as these hold the lid of the trunk in place.

Step 8

Cover the newly prepped pieces with wrapping paper (as in step five). Tape ad glue the bottom flaps into their positions, wrapping up the edges in duct tape. Extend your top flap, so it fits underneath the front of the car, then glue and tape into place.

Step 9

Take the straight flap from your trunk lid and slide it into your slot that you cut in the car’s main body. Tape and glue it, creating a headrest from the main body’s flaps.

Step 10

Spray paint the paper plates to make tires and then use ribbon spools for spokes. You can mount the tires with a short bolt and a nut, making the hole with scissors.

Step 11

Mount a frisbee for the steering wheel and use a nut and bolt to secure it. Use Velcro for the door handles and trunk latch.

Step 12

Now since the car is made, you can use your imagination to decorate it a little. Here are a few tips on decorating your cardboard car.

  • You can paint the cardboard any color that you like.
  • Color a bit of silver on the car’s front and back for a bumper.
  • Draw interior details (like a radio) with markers.

Here is a video to show you exactly how to make a race car for your child’s contest. Check it out:

Note: Image source is from