Introduction: Customize Your Matchbox Cars

This shows how to take an ordinary cheap matchbox car and mod it to beat hell out of its old self. They drift really well, too.

Please, rate if you like it.

Step 1: What You Need

This is one of very few instructables that doesn't really require anything advanced. No soldering, no drilling, no hot gluing. All you need is:

a)A matchbox or hot wheels car. I recommend matchbox.
b)Some lead based spray paint.
c)Duct tape.
d)Sand paper.
e)Oil based acrylic paints for touch-ups.
f)Non serrated hobby quality knife.

Step 2: Paint 'er Up!

This is tricky. What you have to do is cut out tape in the general shape of the windows, and then stick it on. Use your knife to cut them to fit perfectly. Do the same with the wheels and the bottom. Now, take it outside and spray it. It's best to do two coats about 10 minutes apart. Then you should let it dry for a long time. Like overnight, then through a day of school. Then touch a piece of the duct tape (because it doesn't matter if the paint comes off of that) and if it's still moist, give it another night.

Now, before you go and spray like crazy, safety precautions:

a)It's best to go outside on a relatively calm day, and then lay down some newspaper in a big box. This way the fumes won't get everywhere.
b)Do not let any acid based spray paint get on your hands! It stings like hell! If you do get any, wash it off with nail polish remover, but don't use too much. The way this works is that the alkaline nail polish remover has a chemical reaction with the acidic paint. It's like vinegar and baking soda.

Step 3: Get Off the Tape

Just peel the tape off slowly. If there's residue, you can sand it off. You may also want the give the car a sand-down with some fine grain sand paper. It gives the car a nice glossy look.

Step 4: Sand Off the Wheels

The picture helps. What you do is hold down a piece of sandpaper with your bad hand and move the car side to side rigorously, so that the wheels don't turn. Pretend you're scrubbing down the counter. Then roll the car forward about 1/5 of a turn and repeat until all of the wheels are sanded completely. This also helps get off any paint that wandered on to the wheels.

But wait, you ask, Why are we sanding the wheels?
And I say, Be cause it makes them really smooth. The car gets faster, the drifting gets sleeker, and it looks more like a audio clip: KA-BOOM!

Step 5: Finished! Concluding Remarks

Alright! We're all done. I've been thinking about what I wish I'd done different. For one, I wish I had put on a layer of scotch tape before the duct tape, be cause the residue was way too much to sand. On the first one of these I made, all I put on was scotch and the acid paint dissolved it. Yeah, it's that acidic. As an alternative you could use masking tape. Another thing I should have done while preparing to do this is sharpened my knife. It was really dull, which made it quite nearly impossible to outline the tape very well.

Okay, so pretty much everything in this instructable is optional. For example, if you really like the coloring that came with the car, you could keep it. But you could also do more. In fact, this is just the bare minimum. Here's a few ideas:

Add LEDs as headlights.
Put in a battery powered motor or a wind up one.
Use stencils to paint words and numbers on the sides.
Build your own wheels.
Add a rocket motor as in this instructable.
Do this to a real car (and that means your car).


Muttairbrush (author)2013-12-06

nice job, looks good.
some added advice from a professional....
do not use duct tape! a big no-no, the residue from the duct tape can bind to the paint itself, also sanding the glue off will fog any plastic parts and create visible scuff marks. instead use your local painters tape of, better yet good ole automotive painters tape available at pep boys.
when you spray it, make sure your can is at least 8-12 inches away and do multiple very light coats, also make sure you prep it properly by wiping it down with rubbing alcohol before you begin taping or spraying. use gloves to handle the model....handling it after prep with your bare hands will allow the oil from your fingers onto the car ...this will cause the paint to not adhere to oil areas. also go light with multiple coats to avoid fish eyes...those are little round vortexes in the paint where you can see the metal, they look like little fish eyes, if this happens grasp your blow dryer and hit the area till its very warm, continue blow drying while coating, this usually melts the fish eyes and creates a smooth coating. also, light coats prevent build up where the top layer dries before the bottom, which will cause cracking.

redfoxtrystman (author)2013-09-07

I love doing this. I did this many years ago when I was a kid. I have one I'm doing now. It's a 64 Buick riv. I drilled out the rivets you don't have to go far. Just take the top of them off. I gave it a bath in paint thinner and wiped off the paint with a rag. That way when I repaint I won't have any bad sanding marks and my windows and tires would be interested good shape. I decided to take a monster truck and combine them so I will have a 64 riv monster instead. I have to trim the safety cage on the truck frame but it is going to work great. After I paid the it is will use hot glue to put it back together.

DAV706 (author)2011-01-18 need drill for the rivet under the car and drill it and disassemble it.(if it is a will need screwdriver and unscrew it.)

cokecola (author)2008-03-25

What kind of paint did you use to get such a fine silver finish?

ultrauber (author)cokecola2008-03-25

it's called rust-oleum: bright coat: metallic finish. see the pic. i also used it for my rocket, in the second photo

amtdude (author)ultrauber2008-08-13

do u colect rockets? i do. i have 10 difrent rockets!!!:-)

ultrauber (author)amtdude2008-08-14

I have 4, the Quark, the Alpha III, the Wizard (I think, something like that), and Baby Bertha (not yet built). But I haven't launched any yet even though I have all the equip.


i launch mine but cant find them if they even came down but its fun

Mr.NHRA (author)2010-12-07

This is awesome. I dont know why these people even look at these kind of instructables if they are going to talk crap about them. Though its not perfect, its far better than my first attempt. I taped a string to the bottom and dunked it in wall paint lol. That was a loooong time ago. Now I paint lexan models. Use masking tape and just cover the whole window next time. Then cut arround the frame with the knife. If you know what a scotch bright is, you may want to run it over the whole car b4 u paint. Nice work, keep at it.

TFElite (author)2010-04-06

Not a bad Instructable. I recently want to Wal-Mart and found (only one!) 2010 Camaro- My favorite car of all time. But, the colors suck (Red with white racing stripes). So, my favorite movie being Transformers, I'm going for that Awesome Bumblebee look. Any tips?

gh0straider (author)2008-03-25

I would have used Masking tape or painters tape as it is designed not to leave residue behind and it is much easier to cut into precise shapes.


Or you could have just removed the rivets so you ONLY have the metal body.

lololzak (author)2009-08-07

oh cool...ive been sanding down one of my hotwheels just to see what it looks like with no paint... and i think i might custom paint it now...thanks

explosivemaker (author)2009-03-19 would look a LOT better if you: -sanded the old paint off first (much smoother and the paint sticks better) -used regular masking tape or painters/artists tape (no residue) -used an airbrush (if you have one, thats great......if not, regular spray paint would still be fine) -used a better knife to cut out the tape (you can get single blade razor blades in a 100 pack for under $5) .....just some suggestions.....

jessevc (author)2008-11-10

it looks cool

ultrauber (author)2008-03-31

no votes...*sniff*

Chefboy6382 (author)2008-03-25

great idea and there are alot of magazine articles and web posts about this sort of thing. i definitely agree that masking or painters tape is a much better choice. also an airbrush would come in handy for better paint jobs!! good work

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-25

That's awesome, it actually looks pretty cool! Masking tape is also a good idea, agreeing with the others. Nice job, for the Pocket-Sized, I have a couple of things up my sleeve. :D

Wait. I'm not wearing a shirt with sleeves! Noooo!

mxdreams (author)2008-03-24

rather than using duct-tape.. why don't you use masking tape?

ultrauber (author)mxdreams2008-03-25

yeah, i put that as a suggestion at the end. i just couldn't find any

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