Classic Convertible Cardboard Electric Car.




I'm a big fan of video games & have a huge collection. I enjoy watching anime & love scie...

Lately I've been making things out of cardboard & have made several vehicles, tanks, etc... but got thinking I had not made a convertible or had I ever seen one so I got to work. I wanted it to be rear wheel driven by an electric motor connected to a driveshaft by a pulley and rubberband. I wanted the rear axle to be driven by cardboard gears connected to the driveshaft. I had never attempted making gears out of cardboard so figured I'd give it a try. Also, I wanted it to have opening/closing suicide doors, working steering, and of course working headlights. All this is combination with the convertible top I knew was going to be quite a time consuming challenge but I guess that's always the case with something not seen before.

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Step 1: Cutting Cardboard Gears. Making Chassis.

I began by printing out gears using a very useful online tool called gear generator. I cut a smaller gear to attach to the end of the driveshaft and a larger gear that the rear axle would pass through. I had heavy cardstock & had to cut 3 of each gear & used elmers glue to glue them together which made a surprisingly strong gear. I then began working on the chassis starting with the frame rails. I held them together using tiny clothspins as I drilled holes for wheel axles. I also did the same for the center frame rail pieces & drilled a hole in those which the driveshaft would pass through.

Step 2: Mounting Electric Motor, Battery Box & Rear Axle.

Next I mounted the pulley to the front of the driveshaft under the motor. I then built a structure to support the motor & lined the pulley on the motor & shaft up & hot glued it in place. Then I secured it in place using a nylon tie. I drilled a hole into the smaller cardboard gear and slid it over the rear driveshaft gluing it in place. I then drilled a hole into the larger gear & passed the rear axle through it. I meshed the gears up properly & then glued the larger gear in place on the rear axle. I glued little hole punched washers on the axle inside each side of the framerail to keep axle in place & gears meshing properly allowing a little wiggle room for it to work properly. I wired the battery box in & tested & had to trim a bit on the gears to get them working fairly smoothly.

Step 3: Making the Wheels.

Now I began working on the wheels. I used a compass to draw the right sized circles on the cardstock & cut out 2 for each wheel. I then cut a piece of corrugated cardboard to place between those. I used toothpicks for the spokes & cut them proper length then slid them through the corrugated cardboard & glued in place. Then I used the smaller center hubs I'd cut out of cardboard & hot glued one on each side of the central spokes which makes for a very sturdy wheel.

Step 4: Steering Box.

Now with the wheels finished and rear wheels mounted I began work on the front steering. First time I had made a steering mechanism so I just figured it out as I went. I used small nails and plastic bushings pushed over the nails and glued in place to make everything stay in place.

Step 5: Installing Front Wheels to Steering Box.

Now it was time to install the front wheels. I think the images can show this better than I could ever hope to with words.

Step 6: Installing Front Steering to Chassis.

Next it was time to fasten the front steering box & wheels to the chassis & make sure everything was working smooth & straight.

Step 7: Adding Steering Column Linkage.

Once again I was in uncharted territory with how exactly would be best to make the steering work from a steering wheel inside the car. The solution I came up with turned out to be really simple & again the pictures show it better than I could hope to ever describe it. It took lots of tweaking to get it working smoothly but eventually I was satisfied with how it was working.

Step 8: Painting Chassis, Adding 3rd Battery.

Before I could begin working on the body of the car, I had to paint the chassis. I painted it & also ended up adding a 3rd AA battery since the car needed a bit more power. I fixed a simple rotating craftstick setup to hold the batteries in place.

Step 9: Starting on the Body & Doors.

Finally work could begin on the body. I began by cutting the side panels & worked on making the doors open and close supporting them where needed with small craftsticks. Then I made little door handle levers to keep the doors latched close.

Step 10: Building Covertible Top Frame.

After getting doors working properly. I started making the folding top frame. I used small nails and plastic retainers cut from plastic as I did the steering mechanism to hold all in place. I fixed the top frame to where it could simply slide down over the sides of the windshield frame to stay firmly in place.

Step 11: Adding Cloth Top.

I had various ideas for the type of material I was going to use for the top & ended up simply using an old shirt I had. First I made a back glass using a piece of plastic and black paper. I cut the cloth to the right size & hot glued it on the top frame in small spots leaving it slack to open and close smooth. I cut a small hole out of the cloth over the rear glass & hot glued the cloth down around it.

Step 12: Bodywork & Adding Steering Wheel & Windshield.

Looking much more like a car now.

Step 13: Making & Wiring in the Headlights.

I made the headlight housings using cardstock & hot glued led's into place. I used this green plastic sheet I had for the lens which I had also used to make the windshield. The placement of the headlights proved real difficult since it was hard to make the front steering wheels miss hitting them.

Step 14: Seats & Convertible Top.

I made the seats using cardboard & cloth from the shirt I had used for the top. I secured the rear seat in so as it would help hold the top in place when both opened and closed.

Step 15: Almost Ready to Take for a Spin.

Step 16: Showroom & Taking It for a Test Drive.

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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    So cool, i think it is amazing!

    Small suggestion, maybe you could add a components section at the beginning.

    Otherwise, so perfect!

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks. I use to add material & tools section at first but this one was so long as it was I decided not to plus I just use all the same basic stuff for each of my cardboard projects. Basically hot glue gun, solder gun, scissors, exacto knife, craftsticks, wooden dowels, hole punch, and last but not least cardboard.


    3 years ago

    This is an awesome idea i think i will make one for my little bros collection

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I'm sure he'd love it & I'd like to see it when you finish it.


    3 years ago

    Awesome work! Nice classic car, thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    What a great looking project and so much detail!

    1 reply