How to make a model car out of a cereal box

Updated February 21, 2017

Cereal boxes of all sizes can be used to build a variety of vehicles, from boats and planes to cars and trucks. The cardboard is strong enough for children to play with, yet can be cut and shaped. Use several small cereal boxes to create a model truck. Create a car model with moving wheels for additional fun. A convertible lets action figures or other toys be used when playing with the car.

Determine which side of the box will be the top and lay the box on a flat surface. Measure 3 inches back from the front edge of the box along the top side and draw a line across the box with a pencil. This front section will be the hood of the car. Repeat this measurement from the back of the box and draw another line across the box. This section will be the boot of the car. Measure in one inch from one side of the box and draw a line between the trunk and the hood. Repeat on the other side of the box. There should now be a rectangle drawn on the top of the box.

Cut along the lines drawn 1 inch in from each side with the utility knife. Do not cut along the lines at the front or back of the rectangle. Cut across the centre of the rectangle between the two cuts previously made. This will create two flaps that can be bent. Bend the back flap down into the box along the line indicating the boot until the cardboard touches the bottom of the box. Cut the extra cardboard away so the flap can hang vertically or just add an extra bend so the additional cardboard lies flat inside the box. Tape the flap in place. Bend the front flap up to represent the windshield.

Measure along the vertical side of the box ½ inch up from the bottom and 1 ½ inches back from the front of the car. Mark the spot with an X. Repeat on the opposite side of the cereal box. This is where the axle for the wheels will be cut. Repeat these measurements from the back, ½ inch up from the bottom on the vertical side and 1 ½ inches toward the front from the back of the cereal box. Mark the spot with an x. Carefully cut a hole at each mark so the hole is large enough to insert a wooden dowel and allow it to turn freely. Insert the first wooden dowel into the front two holes and the second dowel into the back two holes.

Paint the entire car one base colour. Paint the windshield white. Use the black paint to outline the doors, hood and boot. Cut small circles of aluminium foil and glue to the front of the car for headlights.

Lay a paper towel tube down on a flat surface so the long side is horizontal. Measure along the long side of the paper towel tube and mark every two inches. Cut down the long side of the paper towel roll, then cut along each two inch mark to create rings two inches wide that have one side cut. These are the outside layer of the wheels. Roll four balls of clay and press them flat into pancake shapes that will fit snuggly inside of each wheel ring. The clay should be at least ½ inch thick but one inch thick is better. Apply glue to the centre of the inside of the first cardboard ring and wrap it around one of the clay pancakes. Tape the ends of the ring together. Repeat for the other three wheels. Insert each wheel onto a wooden dowel so the dowel is in the centre of the clay portion. Roll the car forward slightly to verify the wheels are even and the car rolls smoothly. The wheels should be positioned close to the cereal box on the dowel but not touching it to avoid rubbing. Allow the wheels to dry overnight before playing with the car


If the base coat of the car is black or blue use white to outline the car doors etc. as black may not show up.

Things You'll Need

  • Large cereal box
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors or utility knife
  • Tape
  • Paint -- any colour
  • White paint
  • Black paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Aluminium foil
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • Paper towel cardboard tube
  • Clay -- 1 cup any colour
  • Glue
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About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Dawn Marcotte has been writing for more than 10 years. Her recent writing has turned to nonfiction and includes articles on home and garden, education, crafts and automotive subjects. She currently has several eBooks published and available online. Marcotte has a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from the University of Iowa.