How to Build a Soapbox Derby Car

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

This year, your eight year-old son asked for a go-kart for Christmas. Your wife, however, wouldn’t sign off on the gift. So what’s a dad to do? Give your racer the next best thing. If your son is expecting a set a wheels under the tree, take this opportunity to teach your little man how to build a car with his own two hands. He’ll receive a gift that will fulfill his need for speed and you’ll receive the gift of spending a little one-on-one time with your boy. Below, we’ve shared details on how to make a soapbox derby car, courtesy of wikiHow. Enjoy!

  1. Gather the needed materials: You will need the following: a hammer, screwdriver, wood saw, nails, screws, rope, wood planks, a bolt for the steering pivot, 4 wheels with axle bars, and a ready-made seat for the driver.
  2. Cut the chassis plank to size: The longest plank, this piece of wood will support the rear axle and seat at one end and the steering axle plank at the other end. The length will depend on your height and the width will depend on the width of your butt. Most cars are typically 48-72 inches in length and 24-36 inches wide.
  3. Cut the axle planks to length: These should be longer than your chassis plant is wide and enough to allow the wheels to turn 30 degrees in either direction.
  4. Make the pivot: Drill a hole in the front end of the chassis and the middle of the front axle plank to make the pivot point for the steering plank. Use a bolt to fix the steering plank to the chassis plank.
  5. Attach the rear axle plank: Fix the middle of the rear axle plank square to the chassis on the back end.
  6. Fix the axle bars to the axle plank: Use four or more U-brackets spaced evenly across the axle to secure the axle bars.
  7. Add the seat: Fix the seat to the chassis and rear axle plank. The rear axle plank should be underneath the chassis.
  8. Build the steering wheel: Drill a hole through the chassis behind the left and right side of the steering plank and slip the rope ends through. For maximum efficiency, attach them to the steering plank near the left and right ends of the plank. The rope should be a comfortable length for the seated driver.
  9. Slide the wheels onto the axles and make sure they’re secure.
  10. Have fun! Just make sure to wear a helmet.

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Matt Pelton
Matt Pelton

Can an entire, race winning car AND driver be rented for my son?

Bob Schrichte
Bob Schrichte moderator

LOL....good one Matt! Might be a popular item.