How to Make a Cardboard Box Derby Car

Let your budding Indy 500 champ create his own race car from a cardboard box. A perfect rainy-day craft, this easy-to-make car will keep your little driver occupied for hours. He can let his imagination run wild, personalizing his car, racing around an imaginary track, and screeching around perilous curves. All you need is an hour, a few tubs of paint, and a checkered flag to wave your champ across the finish line.

Things You'll Need

  • One 20X15X12 Inch Cardboard Box
  • Paint Brush
  • Two 12X9X5 Inch Cardboard Boxes
  • Four 2X10 Inch Paper Plates
  • Paint
  • Four 2X12 Inch Paper Plates
  • Low-Temperature Glue Gun
  • Masking Tape

Close the bottom flaps of the large box (into a regular box base) and glue them into place.

Draw a semicircle on one of the longer top flaps to create an aerodynamic "side window." Make sure the bottom of the semicircle is at the bottom of the flap, where it meets the box. Cut away the excess cardboard. Repeat for the other long side.

Open all flaps of one small box. Place on the front of the car to make the "engine," with one of the open ends of the small box facing the larger box. Push the "engine" box so that the bottom flap is under the "body" box, overlapping it by 1 inch. Glue the "engine" to the "body," starting with the bottom flap. Since the "engine" is smaller than the "body," the top flap of the "engine" will have to be slightly angled in order to meet the "body." Glue the top flap of the "engine" box to the "body."

Glue the other flaps of the "engine" box together, adhering the top flap to the bottom flap to form a triangle-shaped front for the car. Trim the side flaps of the front of the "engine" to fit in the shape of a triangle. Secure the seams with masking tape.

Repeat Step 3 with the other small box to create the back of your car.

Close the back flaps of the back box into a square shape and glue into place.

Make "wheels" from the paper plates. Paint the two 12-inch paper plates black and allow to dry. Glue the white paper plates to the black paper plates (the black paper plate creates a "tire").

(Optional). Cut two circular holes in the base of the car for your child's legs to fit through.

Paint the vehicle.


  • Hold a car birthday party by assembling enough craft items for all guests. Spend an hour making the cars, substituting markers for paint to avoid drying time. At the end of the craft session, hold races in the back yard and give prizes for the fastest car, the most colorful car, the best crafted car, and whatever other prizes you can think of to make sure everyone's a winner.


  • Use a low-temperature glue gun; high-temperature glue guns can cause severe burns. Several glue guns have been recalled in recent years. Check recall warnings (see Resources) before using a glue gun.