Introduction: Make a Cardboard DeLorean RC Body

About: Hi, I'm Sam. I started tinkering with old sewing machines as a kid, and have been making and fixing stuff ever since. Here are some of the projects I've made over the years. Enjoy!

This is a cardboard DeLorean body I made for a radio controlled truck.

I made this because I thought it was a fun idea and an interesting challenge.

I hadn't made a purely crafty project for many years, so it was fun to go back to creating with basics like cardboard, hot glue, and tape!

I tried to make this Instructable as repeatable as possible, so printable patterns for all of the parts are included.

If you've got a cutting mat, hobby knife, and a hot glue gun, you can make this!

If you don't have an RC car to put it on, it could just be made as a model. The level of detail is completely up to you - you could go all out and add much more detail than I did, or make an even simpler version.

Step 1: Materials

The basic supplies:

  • cutting mat
  • large ruler (I'm using a clear quilting-style ruler which is extremely useful)
  • hobby knife with lots of extra blades
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • regular white glue
  • corrugated cardboard (the stuff from moving and shipping boxes)
  • thin cardboard (like from cereal boxes)
  • printer to print the templates

Additional things:

  • thin painters masking paper (from places like Home Depot, etc)
  • Mod Podge
  • spray paint and craft paints
  • various colored duct tape and packing tapes
  • sticky-back craft foam

Scans of my patterns attached below. Make sure print settings are "Full Size" or with "No Scaling" or equivalent.

Step 2: Just a Quick Look Into My Prototyping Process...

Here's a quick look on the process of how I came up with this.

I started by looking at lots of photos of the car to just become really familiar with it, both here and through online searches.

I found some simple, mostly-scale drawings here These were especially helpful.

I scaled up the drawings (using powerpoint of all things) and printed out views that had the same distance between the wheel-centers as my physical car (this a 4x4 Traxxas Slash, with wheels 13" center-to-center).

Using my homemade light box I worked from these drawings create sizes and shapes of cardboard that would make up a 3D shape of the car. I used a main platform piece of cardboard to which cross-section "ribs" were added, and external cladding pieces are fit all around.

The trick with this kind of effort, is to just go for it and plan on making multiple versions, and to work out the details through trial and error.

Make, fail, learn, make again!

Step 3: Let's Start!

Warning! This Instructable has a lot of photos.

If you just want to see the general project progression, the first one or two photos per step show the results of that step.

If you're actually making this or want to see the full details of the build, be sure to click through all the photos and read the photo notes. I recommend reading the whole Instructable first. Then . .

Start by printing the templates (preferably onto card stock), and carefully cut out the various pattern pieces.

Make the base platform first using a full piece of corrugated cardboard, according to the dimensions outlined here.

Use the templates to trace and cut the body cross section pieces from cardboard.

TIP: When you're using a hobby knife to cut cardboard, always use a new, sharp blade and make several shallow passes rather than try to cut all the way through the cardboard in one pass.

Step 4: Add Cross Sections to Platform

The cross sections are glued to the platform using hot glue. Make sure the three topside pieces are glued perpendicular to the platform.

The front piece that will support the bottom of the windshield/top of the hood has a slight curve made in it. Drag this piece over the edge of the table to break it in so it can be curved uniformly.

The hood template piece can be used to trace the necessary curve shape onto the platform next to the 1/2" mark made in the last step.

The front and tail bumper pieces are hot glued to the ends of the platform along the lines indicated on the pattern pieces. These two pieces must be glued at specific angles. Use the angle guides included with the templates to place these pieces at the correct angles.

Step 5: Add Top Panels

The hood, windshield, roof, and rear panels are added now. See photos for details and tips.

Note: Some of the photos show steps as they were completed on the prototype models, hence some differences might be noticed on the cardboard pieces.

Step 6: Add Side Panels

These panels start to get a little tricky, and require more careful shaping and modifying. See notes in photos for process and tips.

Step 7: Add Lower Skirt Panels

The lower panels are added now, using tabs made from single ply cardboard to help get them in place correctly. Tips in photos.

Step 8: Tape Seams

This is optional, but it makes for a neater looking finish on the car.

I used strips of thin painters masking paper to tape over the seams and bare edges of cardboard all around the car.

Mod Podge is a brush-able glue-like liquid that works great for this. It is brushed on where the paper will go, and the paper is quickly pressed in place. Then extra Mod Podge is brushed over the paper to lock it in place.

For papering over curved edges, apply one side, snip paper as needed, and then glue it down. See photos for a closer look.

Step 9: Various Fixes

Here are some additional tweaks that I did at this point.

I wasn't happy with the shape of the rear window cut-out, so I glued pieces back in to create a better shape. This was updated so the templates show this updated shape.

Little supports were glued in place to the middle area of the lower skirt panels to add strength.

Wheel well shrouds were added made from cereal box cardboard. There are no templates for these, but it is easy to create if desired as shown in the photos.

Step 10: Body Mounts

The stock body mounts on my RC truck would not fit this cardboard body, so I picked up some adjustable mounts at my local hobby store.

Through some trial and error I found the heights and position needed to mount the cardboard body to the truck.

Some small modifications were done to the body and holes were cut where needed for the body mounts as shown.

Step 11: Louvered Rear Panel

A rear louvered panel was made using single ply cardboard. This is from a roll of temporary floor protector cardboard that is found at home stores, but anything that's about 1/16" thick will work.

Pieces of cardboard were cut and layered up as shown in the photos using regular white glue. See photos for specifics on creating this from the template.

This panel wedges under the back tab behind the roof panel shown in the photos in the previous step, and wedges firmly in place in front of the bumper piece.

Step 12: Base Coat Paint

The body and rear panel were painted with several light coats of spray primer.

The body was then coated with aluminum colored spray paint, and the panel was painted with black craft paint followed by a coat of spray lacquer.

Step 13: Lines and Paint Details

Various pattern pieces are reused now to trace lines around the car as shown, using a fine tipped permanent marker.

3/8" wide strips of painter's tape are used as guides to place lines for the windows, hood lines, and so on.

The front and rear bumpers are designated with lines as shown, and brush painted with craft paint, color "Brushed Dark Gray."

The windshield and side windows are painted by hand with a mixture of black and silver craft paints for a dark but kind of shiny color.

I then painted the car with a couple of coats of clear spray lacquer. This made the shiny finish slightly more dull, and also made the maker lines blur just a little (because the solvent in lacquer is alcohol, and alcohols typically dissolve marker... whoops). But I like the less shiny look and the sealed craft paint areas, and the slightly blurred lines aren't a huge issue to me. So it's okay.

Additional details are added as shown in the photos.

Step 14: Tape and Craft Foam Details

Additional details are added using sticky-back craft foam and various colors of tape.

Strips of black craft foam were used to make bumpers and side trim pieces as shown.

The front and rear grills were made using bits of packing tape and duct tape. I've included a template for the rear grill because that was a little bit more tricky.

Step 15: Wheels

The green stock wheels on my little RC truck just looked kind of funny, so for the sake of completing the look I made some paper hubcabs.

These were printed on cardstock and got a very light coat of silver craft paint. When it was dry they were cut out and taped in place using double sided clear tape.

The body was completed at this point and mounted the RC chassis.

Step 16: That's It!

I think it looks pretty nice!

Once all the snow melts where I live I can go driving it and bash it all around taking it off some sweet jumps, which will certainly tear the cardboard all to pieces.

On the other hand, maybe I'll just use it for display. Or maybe I'll do a full Time Machine conversion to it.

Hmm . . .

OR . . . maybe YOU can?? : )

Thanks for checking this out!