Introduction: Oh No Not Another Flippin' Soapbox

Picture of Oh No Not Another Flippin' Soapbox

A couple of months ago I applied to enter the Red Bull Soapbox Derby at Alexandra Palace and as I sold the Model 'T' at Bonhams last September and the prototype of the '32 sedan is looking a little 'careworn' I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to design and build a new one.  Eventually I decided on a Indianapolis single seat racer from the mid thirties, a bit 'Milleresque'.  Construction technique follows the previous models.  Plans will be available when I get round to it.

All of the solid timber is Sapele and is obtained from recycled patio door cills from a local window company all for £10.  Softwood could be used instead stained or painted. The floor is 18mm ply, the chassis rails are 4 inch by 3 inch and taper in 2 planes.  The bend in the chassis rail was achieved by 'pie cutting' a wedge and adding a reinforcement piece glued and screwed behind the rail (see photo).

The radiator surround is made up of several blocks glued together and carved to shape, it is squarer than the '32 grille and is therefore a bit easier to carve, much of the shaping can be done with a saw.  The side panels are Mahogany veneered MDF, bending them to form the lower part of the boat tail stressed them to the limit, plywood would have been easier.  Flexi ply would have been easier still.  Normally I would make the bonnet halves from flexi ply and then veneer  them but this time I found some 1.5 mm ply that I thought would do the job but I wasn't happy with the end result so I ended up veneering them anyway.  The windscreen is Ash mitred, screwed and glued with an off cut of Perspex rebated and silicone in place.  Wheels are 20 inch, 40 spoke BMX with 14mm axles.  I made the exhaust from a garden parasol pole, I drilled a hole about an inch deep at the end to make it appear hollow, which has made a few people wonder what it's made from.  The support for the BMX calliper brakes is a 1inch square box section steel which passes through square holes in the chassis rails.  If you have a morticer (like me) remember to make the holes in the chassis rails before you make the chassis (I didn't).  I had the seat back professionally upholstered as it is now impossible to by ready pleated vinyl in this country anymore.

Rick mentioned that the steering is the hardest part and he's right but after 5 different designs I think I may have stumbled on the best method.  The main part as you can see from the latest photo is and old fashioned hand drill bought on ebay for around a fiver I think the photo is self explanatory but will add another couple of photos of the steering arm end.

The front axle was bent out of 19mm mild steel round bar at a local metal fabricator, all pivots and steering links are rod end bearings bought on ebay. 

I will add more photos as I progress with the build.


RBaderG (author)2017-09-17

Would it be possible to post more pictures of the steering mechanism? I think i got the wrong size rod end bearings. Looks like you used male rod ends.

RBaderG (author)2017-09-16

Absolutely beautiful. I am in the design phase of building a Bugatti Type 59 for my granddaughter. The plan is to have it approximately 6' from tail to end of rail but I'm stuck on how long to make the cockpit. If it starts creeping up to 7' long to keep it in scale I'm going to start having weight issues I salvaged the rear axle off an adult tricycle so I have the propulsion system and i just happened to have my Uncle's old fashioned hand drill. So consider yourself flattered that i will be using your steering design. I'll be documenting all this when I make my first materials gathering trip to Home Depot this fall. Let the games begin!

daveva7 (author)2017-08-25

Are there plans for the IndyCar yet I would like to purchase a set


LaurentP21 (author)2017-07-27

Just WOW!

I wish I could do something as beautifull as this! Love it.

Peter Vivian made it! (author)2017-04-30

Hi to All a couple of photos of the latest build almost finished. As soon as it's completed I am building another of the IndyCars so that I can finally produce the plans,was unmentioned earlier it will be featured in a forthcoming magazine article.

What about an electric vec.

MatthewVincent (author)2017-05-13

I wish I could weld

MatthewVincent (author)2017-05-12

I fell in love with the soapbox. I'm building one on a smaller scale for my son. I'm gutted I didn't go for the 1.8m chassis cos now I can't drive it. The metal work has been the biggest pain.

Jack The maker3 (author)2017-04-10

As I have been asking around, is there any room behind the seat for a V6 or V8 solenoid engine?

Sorry don't know what a solenoid engine is but there is plenty of room behind the driver. This cart is featured in a forthcoming edition of The Woodworker magazine and i am currently producing plans for it. All the best, Peter

MichealB22 (author)Peter Vivian2017-04-28

Hi, I love your build. iT LOOKS AMAZING.

Where will I be able to see the designs once you have them drawn up?

daveva7 (author)2017-03-15

Are there plans available for this car.

JustinL83 (author)2016-03-08

Hi Peter, I realize this was quite some time ago; however, I would love to purchase the plans for the Indy car. I saw that you have it for sale at the cost of $25. I have emailed you from my personal email, if you could just give me the information to purchase this plan. Thank you so much and work inspires me.

Olá amigo gostaria de saber se você conseguiu o projeto do Indy? Queria muito esse projeto mas não estou conseguindo seguindo, agradeço se puder me ajudar!

Fabrício schmitz (author)2017-01-05

Olá!Gostaria muito de ter esse projeto como consigo ele.Grato pela resposta!

Regie1 (author)2017-01-02

hi , thought , this one i built might be of interest . the plans come from stevensonstoys in usa cost me about $50 I think a few years ago . Not sure if I would want to ride it in a soap box darby . But it was great fun to build and looks really classy . As you would expect a Bugatti 35 would. Im really interested in building Peters car . So if some one could tell me where I can purchase the plans I would appreciate it.


surfer guy made it! (author)2016-07-22

Hello Peter. I managed to piece together enough information from the images you supplied and the odd measurements you mentioned to build my cart. Some of the finishes are a bit rough compared to your cart but i think it will serve its purpose. Thanks for the inspiration.


joske (author)2014-07-07

Hello Peter

Thank you for the inspiration. My little girl had the time of her life with our home-made soapbox. She even got the price for the best design. Fortunately we didn't have to compete against one of your soapbox-artworks. ;-)

Peter Vivian (author)joske2014-07-07

Looks fantastic! love to see some more photos. I've got a new one nearly finished I will post pics when it's done.
All the best


djangelt (author)2014-06-04

Can you post the link to were the plans for some of your carts are. Or email it to me. I want to build one of these for my 1 year old son. I know I'm starting pretty early.
Thank you.

Peter Vivian (author)djangelt2014-06-04

Hi the only plans I have currently are for the '32 Sedan (number 55). These are available directly from me via email, payable through Paypal the address for which is price is £25. I do have line drawings for the model 'T' but there is no constructional or engine details these are £15. Plans for the Indycar (number 84) are currently being produced and there is a new one coming soon which I shall feature on Instructables but keeping it quiet at the moment. All the best Peter. BTW the new soapbox website is now up and running you can find it at

marreromike (author)2014-03-11

Peter how can I get your plans I cannot find them on ebay.

motoring (author)2013-12-22

That is great. I have a 18 year old girl that is looking to make something similar to this. Thanks for the inspiration

altomic (author)2013-10-25

Awesome, simply awesome. I just showed my 8 year old daughter your cars and she is aching to build one this very second.

Peter Vivian (author)altomic2013-10-27

Hi thanks for your comments, plans are available for some of the carts but I think she might be a little young to build one all on her own!

foobear (author)2013-09-10

Ooh that is a beauty. that's quite a thing

mioffreda (author)2013-07-11

hello peter
please a need the measurement of this car.


Peter Vivian (author)mioffreda2013-07-11

Hi it's 6 feet long overall (about 1.8metres) and just under 3 feet wide (about .0.85m)

Peter Vivian (author)2013-07-05

Sorry not updated recently but had workshop related accident - 2 broken fingers + several stitches OUCH!. I didn't get accepted for the Red Bull event I think they were going for more novelty based carts. I have attached a couple more photos. Add images is not working at the moment so will try again later

tramontano (author)2013-05-07

Amazing work!

Now find a way to put a motorcycle V engine transversely on the front of that grill, and transmit the power to the rear wheels, and you'll have something I would buy - just like the Morgan 3-wheeler!

Peter Vivian (author)tramontano2013-07-05

Found a Briggs and Stratton V twin from a lawnmower, looks like the 3 wheel Morgan might be a goer.

Peter Vivian (author)tramontano2013-05-07

Weeell that's an interesting point you make. I have so far resisted building a Morgan even though I really like the idea as Morgan themselves make a child's pedal 3 wheeler but recently I was given a Brompton 20 inch wheel with a drum brake that's no good for a 4 wheeler but perfect for a trike now if only I can find a small V twin. The other option is for a dummy wooden engine with an electric motor hidden in the tail! You've set me thinking.

seamster (author)2013-04-06

Oh yes, another flippin' soapbox!

I loved your other ones, and this one is looking great too. Can't wait to see more of it.

pfred2 (author)2013-04-05

Where do you get those rims with those hubs in them?

Peter Vivian (author)pfred22013-04-05

They are 20 inch, 48 spoke BMX wheels with the essential 14mm axles. Usually use inch and a quarter to inch and a half tyres at the front and 2 inch at the rear. Bike wheels are not designed to be used as stub axles but if they'll support my 18 stone they should be OK. Always used silver on my carts before but thought all black would look cool on a race car.

rickharris (author)2013-04-05

The hard bit is the steering mechanism and the drive - Is that in the next episode?

kretzlord (author)2013-04-05

Sir, that is not a "flippin' soapbox". It is, in point of fact, a marvelous ride for any fun sized gentleman (or lady)

l8nite (author)2013-04-04

I recall drooling over your other cars, this one promises to be just as gorgous

liquidhandwash (author)2013-04-04

so cool

About This Instructable




Bio: Trained as a technical illustrator a hundred years ago, Spent 20 years as a professional photographer, boring commercial stuff mainly building interiors and exteriors. Taught ... More »
More by Peter Vivian:Oh No not another flippin' soapboxMy WorkshopHotrod Soapbox 'T' bucket
Add instructable to: