This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures, here.
Hi Friends! I wanted to share a full tutorial on how to make the DIY cardboard box cars that we created for Easton’s Retro Drive-In Movie Party. Below are all of the step-by-step instructions of the car assembly line!
DIY Cardboard Box Cars: The Assembly Line
Step 1: To assemble the DIY cardboard box cars you will need cardboard boxes, duct tape, hot glue, an xacto blade, scissors, and a ruler. I wanted all of the boxes to be the same size so I used these 18×24 cardboard boxes and they worked really well. They were a good size for the older kids too.
Step 2: Fold and tape the box into the standard box shape.
Step 3: Using a bowl or round object of your choice, draw two semi-circles on the front of the box (on the fold line, where the flaps will fold down).
Step 4: With an xacto blade, carefully cut along the semi-circle line that you just drew.
Step 5: Fold the flap downward. The two semi-circles of the headlights should remain up.
Step 6: Measure 8.5 inches on the sides of the box (on the left and right of the headlights). Next, with the xacto blade, cut the vertical line you just created/measured. Repeat for both left and right sides.
Step 7: Fold both the left and right 8.5 inch panels down and tape together with duct tape.
Step 8: Hot glue the front flap and newly taped together side flaps to one another. This will create your dashboard.
Step 9: Place hot glue on the inside back flap of your car and then fold over to attach to back of box. This will act as reinforcement as well as create a more sturdy back of your car.
Step 10: Now it’s time for windows! Draw a curved window shape with pencil on the remaining left or right side panel.
Step 11: Using your xacto blade, carefully cut out the curved window that you just drew.
Step 12: Tip: Use the portion of the window that you just cut off to create the “stencil” for your other window. Just flip it over and trace on the other side panel. This will make the curve of both windows uniform.
Step 13: Now your DIY cardboard box car is completely assembled!
Step 14: Time for a paint job! I used this Rust-oleum spray paint in apple red, golden sunset, and seaside. Each car took about one can each. The links above have some 6-pack prices that would be a very good value if you are doing multiple cars.
Step 15: Spray paint the cars in the color of your choice.
Step 16: Now it’s time for some bumpers! You will need pool noodles, silver ribbon, hot glue, scissors, and decorative metallic trim.
Step 17: Cut each pool noodle in half lengthwise and widthwise.
Step 18: Cut strips of the decorative metallic trim that will be able to wrap around the pool noodle. I found this trim at Hobby Lobby in the classroom section.
Step 19: Cover the end of the pool noodle with sliver ribbon by applying a small amount of hot glue and then wrapping the ribbon around.
Step 20: Apply hot glue to the silver metallic trim and place all along the sides of the noodle. Repeat until you have completed all of your bumpers. Then, hot glue entire bumper onto the front and back of your DIY cardboard box car.
Step 21: Time for some detail work! I created grills for the cars using the remaining metallic trim that I had left over from the bumpers. With an xacto blade, I cut strips in the trim to create the look of a grill. Once completed, I glued the grill to the front of the car.
Step 22: I used black paper plates for the tires on the cars. To create the look of chrome rims, I cut silver paper into strips and glued them to the plate. Then, in the center of the plate, I glued a silver circle.
After you finish assembling the initial shape and form of the DIY cardboard box car you can paint and decorate it any way you would like. I just wanted to share what worked well for me. I hope it is helpful to you! After I created paper plate tires I also added glittery blue paper for the window panes, gold shimmery paper for the headlights and red shimmery paper for the taillights. I’m also sharing free printables for the license plates. It’s an editable PDF so you can personalize it with any name, month and year you would like. Be sure to grab yours at the bottom of this post. Happy crafting!
PIN FOR LATER:
Trudy L Pehrson says
Such a cute idea and great tutorial!
Thank you so much for your message and kind words! I really appreciate it! I’m so happy you found the tutorial helpful!
These are fantastic!! Roughly how long did it take for each car, and how much did each car cost? I am totally going to try these!
Thank you so much for your message! I’m so glad you like the cars! My boys absolutely loved them! I would say each car probably takes about 1.5 hours (not including the time it takes to let the paint dry). As for the cost, I think under $20 each would be a good estimate. I hope this helps!
Have had a blast making cardboard cars (slightly different design but inspired by yours), and downlaoding and designing this adorable ticket booth, now working on concession stand and license plates! Great resource to make a very special 3 yr old girl very excited this week!
Thank you so much for your message! I am so thrilled to hear that you were able to use the cardboard box car inspiration and printables! I hope your 3 year old has an absolutely wonderful birthday! Thanks again so very much! I really appreciate your kindness!
Hi! Love this tutorial! I’m doing this for my 8. Year olds bday party, would the size box you recommend be too small? Thank you!
Thank you so much for your message! I’m so happy you find the tutorial helpful! My six-year-old fit well in the box car when I made these. I did have a reader tell me that she cut a hole in the front of the car (below the headlights and grill) so her kids could stretch their legs straight out. Maybe that would be a little more comfortable for your party guests. Just and idea! I hope this helps!
Thanks again! Have a wonderful celebration!
Eli James says
So wonderful amazing craft work . i will try to make this by following by your trips .
Thanks to you for sharing with us .
Thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate it! I’m so happy to hear you’re going to make this DIY!
I hope you enjoy it!
Have a great day!
Benedetta Petito says
Hello, this is just wonderful! my daughter is having a “drive in” theme stepping up ceremony for prek graduation and we need to make a car for our kids. this is so beautifully done. thank you for your tips.
Thank you so much for your message and kind words! I really appreciate it so much! I’m so happy you found this DIY to be helpful. My kids loved these cardboard box cars. Congratulations to your daughter! 🙂
This absolutely amazing as I was looking for something just like this for my sons Hollywood drive in movies birthday!! Thank you so much for the how to and tips with photos!! I can’t wait to start making these!!!
Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so happy you found the cardboard box car step-by-step instructions and photos to be helpful! I hope your son has a wonderful Hollywood drive in movie party! Thanks again so much!