How to Make a Cardboard Model Car

Updated February 21, 2017

Model cars are a classic children's toy that delivers the fun and excitement of the automobile in a size kids can safely play with. A rolling model car made from sturdy corrugated cardboard can be custom designed and coloured to look like an existing car or whatever your imagination creates. Build inexpensive cardboard car models to improve your artistic and construction skills and have something to play with when you are through.

Pull a cardboard box apart so it is completely flat.

Sketch a single side panel for the model car on the flat sheet of cardboard. The side panel needs to include a front quarter panel, driver and passenger doors with or without windows and a rear quarter panel. Search for inspiration for the look of the side panel from real cars, photos of cars or create something new from your imagination.

Trace the outline of the side panel with a permanent marker and slide a cutting board under it.

Cut out the side panel with a utility knife and move the cutout to another section of the cardboard surface.

Follow the pencil outline of the side panel with the permanent marker and slide the cutting board underneath to cut the duplicate out.

Draw a bonnet, roof, boot and bumpers for the front and back that are all equal width on the cardboard. Trace them with permanent marker and cut them out carefully with the utility knife.

Attach the two side panels to the bonnet, roof, boot and bumpers along their edges using a hot glue gun. Allow the glue to set for 5 minutes.

Trim four identical wheels from the remaining scraps of corrugated cardboard. Make the wheels half the height of the side panels or smaller.

Straighten out two paper clips and press them through both side panels at the front and rear of the cardboard car model to form axles.

Insert 1/2 inch of the ends of the paper clips into the centre of the cardboard wheels at a 45 degree angle so they don't pop through the other side. Press down on the inserted end as you bend the protruding section of paper clip until it is at a 90 degree angle to the wheel.


Decorate the cardboard model car with spray paint or stickers to give it colour. Cut windows out of a clear plastic sheet to add more realistic details to the model.

Things You'll Need

  • Corrugated cardboard box
  • Pencil
  • Permanent marker
  • Cutting board
  • Utility knife
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • 2 jumbo paper clips
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About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.