Introduction: How to Make a Soapbox Cardboard Car?

About: I am student pursuing B.des at NMIMS, School of Design in Mumbai.

While driving a car or while being driven by someone, have you ever wondered what if cars were yet to be invented and human brain was never able to think anything beyond a horse cart? It is said that we don't value something if it's in abundance; this is the reason we don't value the presence and invention of cars the way it should have been. There are myriad types and ranges of cars, each suited for a specific function and for a specific demographic. In the quest of answering our own question of who would have first come up with an idea of inventing a car and how would he have done it, I decided to make a Soapbox Cardboard Car. At the end I not only came up with a theory suggesting various factors affecting the distance travelled by the car when launched from an inclined plane but also conducted a car race.

To make this Soapbox Cardboard Car you'll need following things:

1. Cardboard sheet,

2. Skewers,

3. Glue gun,

4. Masking tape,

5. 4-to-5 Straws,

6. Alcohol Markers

7. Pencil, eraser, ruler, etc.

And most important thing of all the required things is the will and excitement to build your own car!

Step 1: Sketch Your Ideas

Start sketching various shapes and forms of what your car may look like. Ask people about their suggestions while you are designing the car. You need not worry about your sketching, your idea is what matters. Make the sketch of your final car from different angles. Here is a picture of what your sketches may look like.

Step 2: Surface Development

Once you are convinced with the design of your car, it's time for surface development. Surface development involves making the body and chassis of the car. (chassis is the bottom of the car, where you attach wheels). You need to make a paper template which if folded gives you the body of a car. Decide the various measurements of all the sides of your car. To make a template, start drawing from the top view of the car. Then draw front and back view. Then draw right side and left side. Right and left sides will be identical to each other. Chassis is how your car looks from the bottom. Cut the paper template and fold it. Here is a picture of what your template may look like.

This step is requires you to scratch your brains, but it's definitely fun. Once done, you'll get a sense of achievement!

Step 3: Onto the Cardboard

If you are convinced with the car you made from paper template, it's time to translate that template onto a cardboard sheet. You may either draw the template on the illustrator and get it laser print on the cardboard directly or you may draw it on cardboard and cut it. If you are getting it laser print, make sure that the folds are drawn with dotted lines so that it is easy to fold that cardboard. For precision prefer getting it laser print. Print out 16 wheels, since you need to stick 4 wheels on each side (more the width of the wheels, better the stability of the car).

Once the cardboard template is ready, fold it to make the car. Attach four rectangular cardboard pieces to the chassis of the car with a glue gun. The wheels will be attached to these cardboard pieces. You can get a clear idea by looking at the pictures. Drill holes of size of the width of the straw in the middle of these cardboard pieces by choosing right size of drill bit. Be careful while you use a drill.

Step 4: Stick the Wheels

Now its time to stick four wheels together. Make sure to drill holes (the holes will be of the size of the skewers, don't make them bigger in size) in the centre of each wheel before sticking them together.

Step 5: Straws and Skewers

Once the wheels are stuck onto each other, it's time to insert them into the cardboard pieces which were stuck to the chassis of the car. First insert straws through the two cardboard pieces. Now through the straws, insert the skewers. Attach wheels on all the four sides. Put masking tape around the skewers so that wheels do not come off while car is running.

Step 6: Colour It

Now it's time to make your car look appealing. Colour it and even name it. Give some cool name which you can flaunt about! This is how your final car might look.

Step 7: The Race!

Your friends and you can make different types of car models. Make an inclined plane of cardboard from which you can launch your car. It will definitely be fun as you watch your car compete and run leaving behind the other cars.

Also checkout my blog at for more fun projects related to design and technology!

Paper Contest 2018

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Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure