How to Make a Soap Box Car

Updated February 21, 2017

The notion of the soapbox derby was born in 1934 in Dayton, Ohio, with the first race run by a group of friends who had built cars out of spare lumber. At its height in the mid-20th century, the race drew more than 70,000 spectators and is still popular in that city and elsewhere today.

But soap box derbies have also become a commonplace of suburban American life, and you might well need to know how to build one of these slick racers to help your child compete.

Cut one plank to the desired length for the chassis. Consider the placement of the seat, the length of the rider's arms and legs. Four to 5 feet is a rough estimate.

Cut two axle plans, about 2 to 3 feet long.

Affix the axle bolts to the axle planks. Depending on the type of axle bolts, this will either require screws or nails.

Nail the rear axle plank to the chassis' back end.

Drill a hole through both the front end of the chassis plank and the centre of the front axle plank to form the pivot point. Join the two planks together at this point with a screw and bolt.

Drill two small holes on the left and right of the front axle plank and pass the rope through them, making a loop for steering.

Nail the driver's seat to the chassis plank and the rear axle.

Attach the wheels to the axle bolts.


Drive carefully, and steer clear of major streets or steep hills.

Things You'll Need

  • Saw
  • Wood planks
  • 4 wheels (with axle bars)
  • Hammer and nails
  • Screwdriver and screws
  • Drill
  • Bolt
  • Rope
  • Driver's seat
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About the Author

William Guzzardi is a recent graduate of Brown University living in Chicago. His writing has appeared in numerous daily and weekly publications. He is also the poetry editor of the new online literary magazine Wag's Revue, and he works part-time as a professional copy and line editor.