Not everyone is willing (or able) to buy a car. Yet in order to keep up in this fast-paced world today, its become necessary to find a means of transportation. This, or else a deep desire to craft something from scratch, is what motivates people to build cars from the comfort of their homes.
Whether it’s in someone's garage or basement, people envision a makeshift car cobbled together from materials sitting around the property. Items once deemed as junk are now the inspired parts of an automobile. The board of plywood that once served as the top of a workstation converts into a chassis, the spare cardboard boxes used for a grille or the wheels purloined off a pair of bicycles—anything in someone's house can become a homemade car.
Those who are brave enough to try don’t always succeed. It not only takes a lot of materials and—in most cases—a monetary investment, but also long hours working. Not everyone who attempts these projects manages to pull it off. What makes it difficult is finding the right materials from one’s house—or a neighbor’s house—to complete the job.
Gathered here are photos of people from around the world who not only attempted this endeavor but succeeded in making their homemade car a reality. They appear to have only used materials within their reach at home and in their local communities. Looking at each part of the cars separately, they would all amount to pieces of junk that commonly lie around a house. Formed together though, they amount to a functioning, makeshift vehicle that stands as a testament to these builders' original vision.
20 Homemade Cruiser
There’s something endearing about a homemade car. It exemplifies a number of traits, including industrialism and determination. According to IB Times, the wife of this homemade car’s builder is driving at the helm. They live in Shenyang, a city in China. The builder is a farmer who used his ingenuity to make a car at home that would actually work.
The same source notes that a motorcycle engine powers the car and resides in the back. It travels about 40 mph, which is impressive for a car made out of spare parts in one’s own backyard. Even the kids standing in the background look impressed.
19 Wooden Mobile
This is one of the more artistic and impressive cars to make the list. The exterior looks as if it’s made of only wood, save for the tires. According to the site Look4ward, it’s an electric vehicle that the owner—pictured driving it—cruises around in every day. The site notes it cost him about $1,630 to make, which is a lot cheaper than a new car (although it doesn’t account for all the labor).
Other photos show the builder in a shop with pieces of wood scattered everywhere. He’s seen using a saw to shape the wood into different shapes for his car.
18 Copper and Brass
At the time of this photo, this car sat on display in the Southward Car Museum, located in New Zealand. According to the blog Adam’s Garage, Sir Len Southward owns the museum, which houses his extensive collection of cars. He’s been compiling cars ever since 1956.
Though the museum houses eye-catching cars like the Ferrari 308 GTS, it also has this Dodge Coupe. The same source notes that the owner made it a personal project by adding new bodywork. Made out of copper and brass, it’s said to have taken him 1,000 hours to shape the metal to his liking.
17 Formula 1
When it comes to homemade cars, the sky's the limit. Virtually any style of car a builder can imagine is constructible. This builder used a common item one typically has lying around the house to make a Formula 1 car. Although it's smaller than an actual car, the builder made it with the intention of giving it to his six-year old daughter.
According to WTF1, it’s three meters long and made only out of cardboard. It even appears as if the steering wheel may actually control the direction wheels turn in. That level of craftsmanship deserves recognition and proves that homemade cars are possible.
16 Lexus Cardboard Car
Technically Lexus made this drivable car, but it’s made out of materials someone could have access to in their own home: cardboard. The design and styling might be a little harder to achieve though for the average Joe. Time reports that it took a team to put the car together, along with the help of a laser-cutting service and 3D model maker.
That’s how the car’s exterior design looks so precise and well-constructed. The most astonishing part of all though, as the same source notes, is that the glue they used only took 10 minutes to dry, leaving little room for error.
15 Red Homemade Truck
From a distance, this red truck could pass for a production vehicle. Its got a familiar body style and frame that makes it look convincing enough at a glance. Upon closer inspection, one will find that it’s in fact a homemade truck.
As Specialty Cars Limited notes, this truck—which someone made back in 1959—is up for sale. The red truck is in great shape considering how old it is and was even found in a basement garage according to the description. The price tag currently sits at $3,950. The original owner made it to drive around their property and for cruising down streets during parades.
14 Wooden Jeep
It may not look like it, but this makeshift car is fully functional. It’s a hodgepodge of parts from several different sources. According to YouTube user kurtscottage, it’s a Nissan Micro Wood Jeep that came together over the course of a weekend. Using the engine housed in the front end, the builder decided to cobble together different materials from wood to furniture to wheels to make this fun homemade car.
Many may poke fun at how it looks, but it’s likely to stir up jealousy. Who wouldn’t want to own a personal cart like this to cruise around their neighborhood in?
13 Yellow Buggy
With a tip from a Flickr user, this car is a homemade product. More than likely though, it required extensive work. No one has a frame like this one lying around the house, so it must have needed welding to combine these bars together.
The cabin has disparate items from several sources, including a chair seat, a motorcycle windshield, and side view mirrors. The front even has what appears to be two motorcycle headlights side-by-side. There’s even a cooler box or storage bin on the back that acts as a makeshift trunk. It may look barebones, but it seems to have the basic functionality of an automobile.
12 Lambo Replica
Lamborghinis are unanimously praised vehicles. It doesn’t matter if someone is a car enthusiast or an average car driver—it’s coveted by all. It’s only natural that someone would try to make one from scratch, considering it’s a highly sought after vehicle.
According to Jalopnik, the creator behind this homemade Lamborghini Countach made it all in his basement. Watching the movie Cannonball Run had inspired him to do it in the first place. What’s more, the same source notes he attempted to sell it. The end product looks amazing and ended up taking the owner 17 laborious years to make.
11 Street-Legal Wooden Car
The quality of homemade cars can vary across a spectrum. If forced to put this particular one on the scale, we’d have to put it on the higher-quality end. It looks good enough to sell. The fact that it’s parked at what appears to be a car show is a strong case for its value.
A Flickr user notes that the car is street-legal and is almost completely made of wood. Part of what makes this such a quality car is the foundation it’s built upon. The same source reports that this car’s chassis is from a ’76 GMC pickup.
10 Solar Vehicle
Even builders are finding ways to make homemade cars that are environmentally friendly. It’s a car Elon Musk would be proud of. The car even has an enclosed cabin for one to drive in. According to Hub Pages, this is the SUNN Solar Electric Car, which people can build using a kit.
The source notes that tools aren't even necessary to assemble it. By the looks of it, all the materials are parts one might have sitting around the house collecting dust. Even the solar panel is something a house these days could have. The only challenge is finding a way to make the solar panel power the car.
9 Woodie Wagon
Building a soapbox derby car takes time, tools and lots of materials. Most of them are pieces that sit around the house though. This particular car—as is evident by the background—looks as if construction took place in a garage at home. The pieces of wood look sawed to create its shape and a green transparent plastic serves as the front and rear windows.
The rear wheels look like they have rims from a bicycle, although the tires appear much bigger. There’s even a yellow mini surfboard strapped to the top, which alludes to the car’s body style that mimics a Woodie Wagon.
A go-kart may not be a full-fledged automobile, but it’s a car one can make at home. A user who goes by thegokartguy on Instructables details the steps necessary to make a go-kart. The steps involve designing the go-kart first. Next up is constructing it, which starts with the frame and an axel. A welder and welding skills are necessary (kids, don’t try this at home).
After assembling the cart, which tops off with a seat bracket and floor plan, all that’s left is the motor and pedals. These last steps are what actually make the go-kart a functioning machine and will offer some homemade thrills.
7 Sederholm Speedster
This makeshift pedal car sits low to the ground. It’s enough to offer kids and adults hours of fun pedaling around the street. This particular one, as the site Makezine notes, was part of an event called “Death Defying Figure 8 Races.” Lots of homemade pedal cars like these came out of basements and garages for a race.
Many of them look expertly crafted and capable of notching competent speeds. The one pictured here used bicycle wheels and has a low backrest. It looks well-suited for the driver who’s going to have to pedal a lot in order to get ahead.
6 Wooden Soap Box
Homemade cars come in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps the most common form of man-made cars at home are soapbox derby racers. This photo shows one in its early stages before the project reached the finish line. It provides a good look though of what materials make up the soap box derby underneath.
According to the blog Maker Dad, all it took was a few pieces of plywood, a plastic seat, and wheels from a surplus store. Even though the builder supplemented the project with parts from stores, it’s made up of materials anyone might have in their home.
5 Pedal Car
It may not have a motor or look very eye-catching, but it’s a worthy addition to the list nonetheless. It almost looks like something out of a cartoon when a car crashes and all that’s left is the driver and a steering wheel sliding across the pavement.
As a Pinterest user points to, this is a pedal car that one accelerates using their feet. It’s appropriate then that the wheels appear to have come from bicycles, since it requires pedaling. The only aspect that looks impractical is the pedal placement and the potential for feet to interfere with the front wheels' rotation.
4 Wooden Car With Bicycle Wheels
Those interested in building a wooden car like this one can check out YouTube. There’s a video by Nicolas GTZ that shows a behind-the-scenes look of how it came together, from early drawings sketching it out to time-lapse videos sawing and drilling away. Most of the tools are ones builders might already have in their home, and the materials look simple enough.
The wheels themselves are from bicycles. There’s even a handy steering tool to direct the car. If there’s one thing the car lacks though, it’d have to be a backrest, which would take the driver's comfort to a new level.
3 Two-seater Pedal Car
This car still looks like its beings worked on. Up to the point of the photo, it already looks as if it’s ready to go for a ride. From the look of the bicycle wheels to the foot pedals, it’s safe to call it a pedal car. The surroundings show that someone made it in what looks like a garage or basement.
The materials are crude, but it has a large steering wheel and a two-seater. With the wheel in the center though, two people might compete over who’s driving. The yellow board in the front that’s curved looks like a part that belongs on a swing set.
2 Makeshift Mobile
The car may still be in progress, but it looks functional enough to take out for a spin. The front wheel is a little flat, but it shouldn’t be too much trouble swapping out for a new one. It looks like it’s made out of a combination of wood and metal bars. The steering wheel sticks out high up and the seat is either missing or unfinished.
With the wheel turned in a diagonal direction, it’s evident the steering mechanism works. Most of these materials that make up the car often lie scattered around a house just waiting to become useful parts.
1 Wooden Go-Kart
It’s a barebones go-kart that focuses more on functionality than it does aesthetics. This photo only shows the beginnings of a go-kart. When one strips away the outer frame of a go-kart, it uncovers what the go-kart is really made of. Plywood, wheels and a motor are the most basic parts of a go-kart.
Another key component is the foot pedals. Those are what allows drivers to accelerate and brake while behind the wheel of one. This can also be one of the more complex areas to tackle when building a go-kart from scratch, as detailed in resources online on how to make one.
Sources: Jalopnik, Adam's Garage, Time, Flickr, YouTube, IB Times & Pinterest