Building a car in the backyard should be a secret fantasy of any true gearhead. Most automotive aficionados can only go so long looking at all the Hondas, Toyotas, and Kias around them before they realize that automotive design has, for the majority of manufacturers, become uninspired and impossible to differentiate between. When the swooping lines of a Hyundai are nearly identical to the swooping lines of BMW's new 3 Series, the world needs a change.
These home mechanics took it upon themselves to build cars that not only stand out as unique but also offer some impressive performance, as well. And who knows, perhaps the future of the automobile will increasingly become a world of custom builders utilizing know-how that they've found on the internet to challenge an entire industry.
Just look at the rise of Tesla for a quick tutorial on how a bunch of people who knew nothing about cars could build an empire in less than two decades. Given the resources that Elon Musk has at his disposal, what would some of these geniuses toiling away in their home garages be able to produce? Even with modest budgets, minuscule working environments, and almost a complete lack of research and development, they've created some amazing cars that range from commuters to racers and even to electric-powered concepts.
Keep scrolling for 20 sick custom cars that people built in their backyards.
20 Hot Wheels
This homemade car looks like someone took the fuselage off of a fighter jet and tacked on a set of four wheels. The project was the brainchild of Luis Rodriguez of Hope, New Jersey, and is called the 2JetZ. Rodriguez was a fan of Hot Wheels toy cars as a kid and his creation will be turned into an actual Hot Wheels product after winning a custom car contest put on by the brand. The car's name is a reference to the famed 2JZ-GTE engine (out of a Toyota Supra MkIV) that is mounted at the rear and creates 517 horsepower in a car that weighs a mere 1,650 pounds.
19 Formula 51
This homemade car looks straight out of the heyday of Formula 1, back when Jackie Stewart was tearing up Monaco piloting open-wheeled speedsters. That shark nose looks perfect and though it's hard to tell, based on the headers leaving the engine and the velocity stacks above it, a V8 appears to be lurking at the rear end. With a little paint—or not—this monster looks perfectly ready to tear up the local go-kart track. Even with minimal power, the kinds of handling that racing slicks, a low curb weight, a low center of gravity, and sleek aerodynamics bring about should be a blast for anyone.
18 Madder Than Max
If this strange rat rod looks straight out of a cartoon fantasy world that's half underwater steampunk and half post-apocalyptic Wasteland, well, that's exactly correct. This strange consortium of garbage and nightmare-inducing machinery comes straight from the mind of Adolf Lachman, the designer of Machinarium's vivid aesthetic. In the real world, though, he put together this strange machine. The exterior probably features just as many props as actually functional mechanicals but there's no doubting that this video game designer has a definite knack for perfectly throwing together all the elements that can wrap up a home build. Whether it would actually be able to keep up with the War Rig is another story.
17 Take That, Elon!
This futuristic concept car looks like the forthcoming Tesla Roadster met the Hennessey Venom F5 at a bar on a late night. But more stunning than its super-sleek exterior is the fact that it was one engineering student's brainchild—and that he built it for under the equivalent of about $4,000. Chen Yinxi worked on the all-electric car for six months before unveiling it at the 2015 Hainan International Automotive Industry Exhibition. He's only 27 and the car can only go 37 miles per hour, but otherwise looks pretty sweet in all red with scissor doors and a full interior, as well.
16 Batman Meet Tyrell
Once upon a time, a Formula 1 car known as the Tyrell P34 came about with a revolutionary new design. Built in the late-1970s, the P34 had four pint-sized front wheels, all of which turned during steering. The design allowed for a lower wind profile at the front end. Other racing teams had to compete and began to build their own six-wheeled racers before rule changes rendered the projects moot in 1977. This car, however, looks like a combination of the Tyrell P34 and a Batmobile. Long and sleek, it's upped the ante to another level by adding a second axle at the rear, as well. Call it Batman in the Blade Runner universe, where he has to take down Tyrell Corporation and their replicants.
15 Less Is More
Many home-built cars are amalgamations of different makes and models that have been cobbled together to produce one fully-functioning prototype. This car, on the other hand, just looks like it has been stripped of every single unnecessary piece that could encumber its progress. There's nothing like tearing down a car and building it back up when it comes to learning exactly every little detail about automotive ingenuity—maybe these two youngsters are on a learning expedition to find out just what makes Subaru's rally cars so effective. On the other hand, maybe they were in the middle of that learning process and discovered that the car could still run!
14 Classic Lines
This tiny car is another home build that fits perfectly into a specific era of automotive design. Specifically, the early-1960s, when smooth lines and simple construction allowed for much smaller vehicles than are on the roads today (and that's not to mention a complete lack of safety features). This backyard build has been called the Jawaplan, is based on a Velorex 350, and was constructed in Czechoslovakia before its dissolution. With cues that hint towards Jaguar inspiration—with maybe a bit of Austin-Healey and Ferrari thrown in for good measure—the car is impressively put together, if a little scary to think about driving.
13 Day of the Locust
This home build is an amazing car that's been purpose-built for autocross. It was built by Paul Wright and, amazingly, it was the first car he ever built. Exterior details make it look like a classic Lotus Seven or maybe one of the many modern iterations currently sold by companies that sell kit cars of the famous speedster that originally changed the automotive world between 1957 and 1972. He's dubbed it the Locost (Lotus, Low-Cost, and Locust) and it's powered by an engine and drivetrain sourced from a Honda S2000, the vehicle that featured the highest output of any naturally aspirated four-cylinder in the world when it debuted in 1999.
That's not a Bugatti Veyron that's being stripped for parts at some questionable garage, don't worry. It's just meant to look like one and was built in Mexico, where this photo was taken in 2014. The underlying platform is a Pontiac GTO (the early-2000s variant) though obviously, massive changes will have to be made if a mid-engine layout is (or was) actually part of the plan. While the wheels point to a low-end project being undertaken, there's a good chance they're just on there to allow the car's builder, Sergio Fabian Reyes, to move it around so he can access the custom steel bodywork more easily.
11 Moreno Ever S
This radical home project looks somewhere between the Joker's Vaydor (which Jared Leto drove in the role) and a legitimate Batmobile. Of course, movies have a way of filtering down through their audience's collective subconscious but turning that obsession to automobile building is a whole new level. This man, Moreno Filandi, built the car by hand—without the use of computers or sketches. It's actually his second homemade car and was based on top of a 1990s Mercedes platform. It weighs about 3,100 pounds and is powered by 340 horses, can hit 170 miles per hour, and runs 0-60 in 4.5 seconds.
10 Gone Fishin'
Though not as potent as many of the homemade vehicles that inspire radical young mechanics these days, this project is quite the build. Every gearhead remembers the Amphicar, the famous boat-car combo from the 1960s. The thing is, though, that the Amphicar really wasn't that great at being a boat or a car. Built by a man named Mark Ray of Atlanta, Georgia, for about $8,000, it's based on a GMC Jimmy that's been combined with a Rea Ray Bow Rider. He named it Gone Overboard and the result is street-legal (and can go on the highway) though, unfortunately, it cannot actually do any of the boat stuff that the Amphicar could.
9 Where Are My Specs
If this homemade car looks like it's a 1980s Camaro with a pair of huge binoculars strapped to the engine, that's because it's a 1980s Firebird with a pair of jet engines bolted onto the engine. More specifically, it's a pair of jet turbines bolted to the carburetor—but the result isn't nearly as potent as it looks. No, jet turbines aren't quite the same as turbochargers—though they can't exactly make this Firebird's anemic 70-horsepower engine any worse, really. Those jets are actually closer to superchargers than turbos, though, seeing as how they're powered by electricity (and not a fan belt, for some reason).
This homemade race car remains a bit of a mystery. Some sources claim it could be powered by a Hayabusa motorcycle engine, which would certainly be potent in a car looks mostly like a grown-up version of a go-kart. The Hayabusa is legendary in the motorcycle world for being the fastest bike ever made (although legal restrictions are partly to blame for the title). Able to reach over 186 miles per hour, the superbike only weighed around 550 pounds when full of fuel. Now, this build probably weighs in at significantly higher but if that engine truly does power it, there's no doubt it's a screamer.
This sleek coupe looks straight from the future of automobile design. A smooth nose reminiscent of the TVR Tuscan is combined with normally hinging doors and a rear end more akin to a Ford GT. The front doesn't have much of a grille for intake to cool radiators, though those massive scoops on the side might point towards a mid-engine layout with, perhaps, a couple of turbochargers bolted on. The car is surprisingly clean for a home build—but at second glance, its relatively simple lines are a bit outside the norm for modern supercars like the Pagani Huayra or Koenigsegg Jesko, both of which have extreme exteriors that hint towards their extreme performance capabilities.
6 The World Turned Upside Down
This famous backyard build just begs for a trip to a music festival, where onlookers can gawk as their brains attempt to process the contradictory design details. Therein lies the genius of this upside down pickup truck—but therein also lies its real flaw. In an ideal world (some might say an imaginary world too good to be true) this truck would be able to flip over like an RC car and drive with either side up or down. Unfortunately, here in the real world, the wheels hidden down underneath are the only ones ready to handle any road-going activities (like confusing all other drivers stuck in traffic on the regular).
5 Not Cardboard, Honestly
This race car looks like it belongs in the LeMons race, not on an actual track going fast. All those aero bits, if they can even be called that, look like they were built out of cardboard to the specifications delineated in a six-year-old's crayon sketch. Instead, this project is billed as one of the wildest homemade race cars out there. It's based on a Fiat X1/9 and features a Yamaha R1 engine, which could produce up to 190 horsepower from the factory at a sky-high 12,720 RPM. And all those cardboard decorations? They're apparently active aerodynamic elements, including the front fins, which follow along with the steering.
4 Nothing Else Like It
The goal of many backyard builders is to create a car that will be unlike all the bland Honda Civics, Toyota Camrys, and Porshe 911s they pass every day in rush hour traffic. The brain behind this custom creation certainly achieved that goal. It's called the Freedom 1 and is powered by a turbocharged Audi engine sourced from a modern TT. The designer started out with a clay model way back in the 1970s and it took over 30 years to build. Features include a full aluminum roll cage, which, given the nature of completely custom home builds like this, might very well be a good idea.
3 Show Stopper
Another goal that many garage wrenchers have for their car is to take it to car shows, where no one—not even the snobbiest of experts and judges—will be able to tell what they're looking at. That's definitely the case with this tiny creation. The whole thing looks straight out of a spoof film about Soviet Russia that came out in the 1970s—James Bond could definitely have driven this car in an earlier film, on the way to some electrical facility where the world's power grid was at risk. In fact, an expert eye would be able to recognize pieces from a Skoda 1000 and 1100 MB in the mix.
2 Ranch Truck
Sometimes, home automotive experts are forced to create their own vehicles simply because of circumstances. Whether it was too far to town or the economy had sent the price of corn tumbling, whoever put this truck together just needed something that could get the job done. It's built on a Crosley chassis and powered by a single-cylinder Briggs and Stratton engine mated to a three-speed gearbox with reverse. As a show of how loose road regulations were back in the 1960s, this ranch creation was even street-legal, having been registered in Pennsylvania from 1962 to 1965 (which, incidentally, was the last time it ran).
1 Car Drives You
Apparently, it was quite a laborious process to actually buy a car back in the Soviet Union. Although it may seem hard to believe that building one yourself may actually have been easier, that's exactly what this man did. The saying goes that "Necessity is the mother of invention" and perhaps no story fits the bill better than that of Boris Paravkin, from Belarus, who built his own car over a period of five years—and has been driving it ever since (for around 40 years). He's swapped out the engine three times over that period, while the suspension and air intake have been adapted to more modern setups. But how many cars from the factory have even lasted that long without a little help?
Sources: Daily Mail, Grassroots Motorsports, Barcroft, and Wikipedia.