How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes

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How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
The completed car. (All photos by author.)

Lightning McQueen is the cherry-red race car from the popular Disney/Pixar film "Cars." You and your child can construct a wearable Lightning McQueen car from a few household items. The project could be a birthday party activity, a do-it-yourself costume for Halloween or simply an afternoon craft.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Cardboard box (rectangular)
  • Scissors
  • Red construction paper
  • Yellow construction paper
  • Black marker
  • Clear tape
  • Glue stick
  • 5 paper plates (sturdy)
  • Black paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Computer with internet access
  • Printer
  • Single-hole punch
  • String
  • Brass fastener

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Cut all of the folding flaps off the box, leaving only the body.

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    Removing the box flaps.
  2. 2

    Tape red construction paper around the outside of the box, covering it completely. On yellow construction paper, use a bold marker to write "95"--McQueen's number in the movie--and draw a lightning bolt. Cut out these symbols and glue them to the car's side panel.

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    Construction-paper detailing.
  3. 3

    Paint each of the five paper plates solid black. These will be McQueen's four tires and steering wheel.

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    Painting the tires and steering wheel.
  4. 4

    Print out a large picture of Lightning McQueen's face on letter-sized paper. There are plenty of suitable images online; just do a quick search-engine query for "Lightning McQueen." Paste the picture to the front of the box.

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    A Lightning McQueen printout.
  5. 5

    Glue (or tape) four of the black paper plates around the box. Space them apart to look like tires.

  6. 6

    Punch two holes near the front corners of the box (behind the face), and two just beside the corners in the back. Run a length of string through the holes on one side of the box, knotting the ends to secure them. Repeat for the other pair of holes. These two strings will serve as suspenders, allowing the car to hang from the shoulders of the "driver."

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    Punching a hole to thread the suspenders.
  7. 7

    Take the remaining black plate and poke the brass fastener through its centre. Punch a hole in the box where the steering wheel will go, then push the fastener through the hole and spread the clasps. Twist the plate a bit to loosen it for easy steering.

    How to Build Lightning McQueen Out of Boxes
    The steering wheel, secured by a fastener.

Tips and warnings

  • If you organise this craft for a small group- say, at a child's birthday party--you can line up the kids for a "race" at the end.
  • Follow these same steps to create any of the characters from "Cars" (Doc Hudson, Mater, Sally Carrera, etc) Simply find construction paper that approximates their colour and print out a high-resolution image of their face.
  • If your printer is black-and-white, use coloured pencil or crayon to add some colour to the printout.
  • If children are helping craft the car, supervise them closely when they handle the scissors.

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