Introduction: A Scale Model Car Body From Trash

About: To be - engineer in the near future. Car enthusiast. Loves making and breaking things!

In this instructable, I will show you how to make a scale model car using an old metal box that is otherwise destined to be thrown away. I will only go through the body panels for now (Not the chassis, interior or paint) since it would become pretty long otherwise. You may need to have a template scale model, or detailed drawings of the car that you want to make. I used a 1:18 dodge charger (1968) as the template. Lets get started.

This is my entry for trash to treasure contest so please vote if you like.

Step 1: Materials Needed

You don't need to buy anything except the depoxi, which is pretty cheap.

1) A metal box. I used an old one that sweets come in. (Optional: A casing of an old CD/DVD drive)

2) Steel wire. I used old steel cloth hangers, about 3 of them.

3) Depoxi, like the one shown in picture. Used about 10 packs of them, one costs about $0.3 so that's $3.

4) Superglue

5) A template. You can either use drawings or an actual scale model, like I did.


2 pairs of pliers (at least)


Metal Files

Sandpapers up to 600 grit

Pencil and paper

Step 2: Make the Frame

Start by making a frame from the steel wire. It is meant to support the body panels that you will stick later on. You will need to estimate the inside dimensions if using another model as the template, like I did. This may take a few times before you get everything right. I used pliers to make bends because I don't have wire bender, that's why you need 2 pliers. I first made the frame as one piece, but later I decided to slice it up from the front fenders and hood (like shown in second picture). So now the front can be detached and is held with screws. I will show later why it's a good thing to do.

If you have a welder and can weld the two ends of the frame, use that. I don't have a welder so I tried soldering but that didn't work. So I just used depoxi.

Step 3: The Fenders

Now start making the body panels from the metal sheet obtained from that old box. You can cut it with normal scissors since it is pretty thin. I don't recommend making all body parts at once since making errors is very easy here. So make one thing at a time. I made 4 fenders first to get the basic shape of the car.

If you are using a model as template like I did, use paper to get imprints of fenders in it by pressing on the corners and edges. Now trace the imprints with pencil. Cut the paper in shape of the fenders and stick on the metal sheet. Now cut the metal. If you need to give it a curve, use hammer. This requires some craftsmanship which I lack, so I tried and it came out to be okay.

The fenders have a strong edge to them that you can notice in the pictures too. So I made them in two pieces and stuck them later on with depoxi. A better option is spot welding if you have access to it. Use depoxi to stick the fenders (and basically all other body panels) to the frame, or weld it if you can. I used depoxi everywhere because I don't have any kind of welding setup with me. Also you will need to fill and sand quite a lot. So start now and keep doing it as you go along your way

Step 4: Roof

Next, make the roof using same technique as fenders. This required a bit more hammering since it was curved finely. Use depoxi to stick it on to the frame.

As depoxi takes some time to set, use superglue first to set it in place and use depoxi over that to make a firm joint. Depoxi is also a nice filler. You will encounter edges that don't align or that overlap. Use depoxi to fill those gaps/overlaps and then sand it when it sets. The results are amazing.

Step 5: Fender Insides

The fenders that I made in previous step were the outsides only and the insides had to be made for the window to fit. I have attached pictures to explain. I attached them right after roof since they together define the rear window cut-out. In may case, they required a lot of filling and sanding because there was a sharp edge where they met outside fenders.

There was also a rear deck that joins the two insides which I made in this step (3rd picture)

Step 6: Front Pillars (A Pillars)

You can use either the steel rod to do this or the lining of the metal box, which is round and hollow. I used the latter for no special reason. This is because the A pillars are so thin on this car. Again, use depoxi to cover them and sand them to give a rectangular look. There was also a small piece at the end of A pillars, before the hood that I made with these (shown in all pictures)

Step 7: Doors

They are easy to cut, since it's a simple rectangular thing. But the problem is the curve they have. You can curve it with hands but it takes time to match the fenders' curves. The doors also have these slits that I made separately (E shaped, 4th picture) and attached to the main doors. Again, fill and sand the overlaps. There was a place where the front fender edge line and rear fender edge line sort of overlap in the design, like the last picture for reference. I couldn't do that with metal so I used depoxi to carve that out. Can be seen in next steps as I did that later.

When you are done, make sure to place the doors in place to check if they fit.

Step 8: Trunk / Boot With Hinges

The trunk is easy too. Just a simple trapezoid with no curves. My frame wasn't perfect till the end of the car so I had to fit a rectangular wire frame at the end to give it the shape. This helps make the trunk fit easily. The trunk hinges are optional if you want it to open. Again I used the hollow lining from the metal box since it is easy to bend. Made clamps (last picture) so they are removable from the metal hinge, which is made of steel rod, installed just under the rear deck explained in step 5.

The C shaped hinge connectors make it possible for the trunk to open fully.

Step 9: Sand, Sand and Sand

Okay so now you need to sand when everything is in place. Use a little superglue to keep the doors in place, fill them, and sand them. Get your edges and corners right. This can take a lot of time. I recommend doing this here and not the end because things won't line up at the end. I am using my self made electric sander which helped me a lot in this project.

Step 10: Separate the Front Frame

Like I said in the beginning, if you made a one piece it is better to separate it as early as possible. I did it at this point that's why I am listing it here. It makes it easier to install hood and door hinges which are the next steps. I used an old mechano for two pieces that can be joined with screws and detached when needed.

Step 11: Hood / Bonnet and Hinges

The hood is fairly simple in shape but tricky in contours. Cut it first, then like the doors, cut the slits. In this case, you will have to cut the bonnet and re attach it. You can use a small piece of metal to support it when re attaching. Just push the slit cut-outs down and you'll have a nice shape. Line the edges with steel wire or hollow tube if you don't want to use the hammer to curve. I tried this on the hood and it worked good.

Then there's a raised line in the center of it (picture 4). I made that by placing it upside down on a wooden surface, then placing a piece of steel rod in the center, and then used a hammer on the steel rod which gave nice result. I struck it hard on the front and light on the back so it was inclined, like in the original car. Make the bonnet hinges same way you did the trunk hinges.

Step 12: Door Hinges

I made the door hinges with metal sheet from an old DVD drive. It is a bit hard to cut but is thicker and better for door hinges as they have to bear lateral load too. I again used C shape to make it possible to open them as much as possible. The results were pretty good. The steel rods used to support the hinges were mounted to the frame using depoxi. You will require some patience for that if using depoxi directly. If using superglue, keep in mind that as soon as it sets, applying depoxi is the first thing you should do because superglue doesn't hold up on small surface areas.

I also made the hinges detachable from the doors by using screws to attach them to a piece of plastic and the gluing that plastic piece to doors. Use a tiny bit superglue to hold the doors in place as you install the hinges.

Step 13: Finish It Off

The body is complete now. Again, it needs a lot of sanding before you can paint it. I didn't paint mine because I manly I don't have any experience, but I might do it. I will do another instructable If I painted it. But sanding is very important before you can paint. Use a 600 or 800 sandpaper for final sanding. As this instructable was for body only, I won't be explaining the chassis or wheels in this, and might do another instructable on those too. I just placed it on wheels temporarily to get the pictures.

Another tip is that keep going through original pictures of the car that you are making. You might find details that normal scale models don't show clearly. Any questions and comments are welcome!

Be safe when working with lots of superglue. It sticks to skin very badly. The last pictures are where I thought my skin was gonna come off. Use gloves if you can. Enjoy!

Metal Contest 2016

Participated in the
Metal Contest 2016

Trash to Treasure Challenge

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Challenge