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How to Make a Cardboard Toy Car

Put your favorite toys or action figures in this classic red hot rod and go zoomin’ around the house! Use recycled boxes to make a cardboard toy car with your kiddos for a fun afternoon activity.

how to make a cardboard toy car

When I was in high school, my dad got this old 1957 red Chevy Bel Air. It had always been my favorite car and one day he up and decided to get one that we could fix up.

We (he way more than me, admittedly) spent lots of time under the hood, cleaning it up and making it run nicely so we could cruise around. He still has the car and to this day it’s my favorite car to drive, ever.

So when the idea for a cardboard toy car came to mind, I obviously needed to pay the Chevy a little homage and make a tiny Bel Air with the kids!

Our LIbrary of Amazing Kid Crafts

While you’re checking this project out, don’t miss our incredible library full of kid-friendly crafts and DIYs! Here are a few of our most popular ideas:

how to make a cardboard toy car

Why Make a Cardboard Toy Car?

This is another project in a series of projects we’ve been doing that are all about upcycling and using what we have! In case you missed the others, you can check them out here!

These upcycled projects serve a few purposes.

Firstly, any project that you take time to do with your child is such a worthwhile investment. It creates space for your relationship to grow in new ways, it gives them creative agency in a safe and fun way, and it encourages them to try new skills.

Beyond that, using upcycled items like old cardboard containers helps demonstrate to our kids the importance of conserving resources and considering sustainability. It’s a great opportunity to enter into conversations surrounding the Earth and how we can treat it better.

And finally, each of these upcycled DIY projects actually results in a toy that kids can play with! It’s so cool to see them proud of their handiwork.

how to make a cardboard toy car

Tips for Making a Cardboard Toy Car With Your Kids

This is a project that, depending on your design choices, may have a few smaller pieces or semi-intricate parts. As you’re creating the cardboard toy car with your child, help them with these parts if needed.

But! It’s always nice to give them a chance first to try on their own. They may succeed, or they may learn something as they tackle something difficult.

Some of the more challenging parts of this project are cutting out the windshield and getting the headlight covers glued on.

Otherwise, let your kids take the creative lead! How do they want their cardboard toy car to look? Do the want to use paint? Markers? Maybe they want to create a different shape?

Encourage them to take the creative lead and see how it comes together.

The Best Kids’ Craft Tool

Before we dive in, I always like to recommend my favorite tool for crafting with kids — a low temperature glue gun!

It has all of the handy crafty ability of a standard glue gun but runs about 75 degrees cooler, to keep little hands safe. A low temp glue gun is a great intro to a more mature crafting tool for kids around age 5 or 6, and it helps them learn to handle tools with skill while protecting them from burns.

You can find the low temp glue gun we use right here.

Supplies You’ll Need

Now let’s make it! We create our cardboard toy car to resemble a 1957 Chevy Bel Air (my favorite classic car of all time!).

But you can create a car that’s special and unique for your family or your child! Let them help make the creative decisions about color, design, and more.

Here are all of the supplies that you’ll need. Many of them are upcycled items, like empty cracker boxes or egg cartons. Be sure to raid your recycling before you get anything new!

Materials

how to make a cardboard toy car

How to Make a Cardboard Toy Car

  1. First, paint a cracker box red and allow to dry. Then cut a rectangle in the top and cut a door on either side, by slicing down at the back of the rectangle and across at the bottom of the box. Leave the front side intact; crease it so that it can open and close.
  2. Glue a popsicle stick on each side of the bottom of the box for stability.
  3. On the front, use paint or paint pens to paint headlights, a grille, and a car emblem.
  4. Cut out four cardboard circles and the bottom of four egg cups from an egg carton. Paint the cardboard black. Paint the egg cups white with a silver center and a red line separating the two.
  5. Glue one egg cup to the center of each cardboard circle. You now have four white-wall tires; glue them onto the car.
  6. Cut the back fin pieces for the back of the car using cardboard. Paint these red with a thick silver stripe. Glue onto the back ends of the car over the back wheels, and paint a silver pinstripe onto the sides of the car to match.
  7. Cut two headlight covers and the windshield out of cardboard. You can freehand the windshield, or we have printable versions of all of the specialty pieces for the car right here. Paint these silver. Once dry, arch the headlight covers and glue over the headlights. Then crease the windshield so that it fits the width of your car and glue onto the box just in front of the rectangular hole.
  8. Cut two small rectangles of cardboard and paint silver. Bend the ends and glue one onto each door to serve as door handles.
cardboard toy car
how to make a cardboard toy car
cardboard toy car
how to make a cardboard toy car
cardboard toy car
how to make a cardboard toy car
cardboard toy car

Have Fun!

Hope you love making this cardboard toy car, and that it inspires hours of creative play when it’s completed!

If you try this DIY craft idea, please rate our tutorial below and let us know how you liked it. Have fun! xoxo

cardboard toy car

How to Make a Cardboard Toy Car

Yield: Cardboard Toy Car
Active Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Intermediate
Estimated Cost: $5

This cardboard toy car is fun to make and even more fun to play with!

Materials

  • empty cracker box
  • empty egg carton
  • scrap cardboard
  • craft paint
  • optional: paint pens
  • popsicle sticks

Tools

  • scissors
  • low temperature glue gun

Instructions

    1. First, paint a cracker box red and allow to dry. Then cut a rectangle in the top and cut a door on either side, by slicing down at the back of the rectangle and across at the bottom of the box. Leave the front side intact; crease it so that it can open and close.
    2. Glue a popsicle stick on each side of the bottom of the box for stability.
    3. On the front, use paint or paint pens to paint headlights, a grille, and a car emblem.
    4. Cut out four cardboard circles and the bottom of four egg cups from an egg carton. Paint the cardboard black. Paint the egg cups white with a silver center and a red line separating the two.
    5. Glue one egg cup to the center of each cardboard circle. You now have four white-wall tires; glue them onto the car.
    6. Cut the back fin pieces for the back of the car using cardboard. Paint these red with a thick silver stripe. Glue onto the back ends of the car over the back wheels, and paint a silver pinstripe onto the sides of the car to match.
    7. Cut two headlight covers and the windshield out of cardboard. You can freehand the windshield, or we have printable versions of all of the specialty pieces for the car right here. Paint these silver. Once dry, arch the headlight covers and glue over the headlights. Then crease the windshield so that it fits the width of your car and glue onto the box just in front of the rectangular hole.
    8. Cut two small rectangles of cardboard and paint silver. Bend the ends and glue one onto each door to serve as door handles.

Notes

This is a project that, depending on your design choices, may have a few smaller pieces or semi-intricate parts. As you're creating the cardboard toy car with your child, help them with these parts if needed.

But! It's always nice to give them a chance first to try on their own. They may succeed, or they may learn something as they tackle something difficult.

Some of the more challenging parts of this project are cutting out the windshield and getting the headlight covers glued on.

Otherwise, let your kids take the creative lead! How do they want their cardboard toy car to look? Do the want to use paint? Markers? Maybe they want to create a different shape?

Encourage them to take the creative lead and see how it comes together.

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