Build Your Own Soapbox Derby Racer Courtesy of Hyundai

Hyundai designers have devised step-by-step plans for you to build your own soapbox derby racer at home using commonly available materials.

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

September 24, 2020

2 Min Read
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Hyundai's DIY soapbox derby racerHyundai Motors

The pandemic’s restrictions on activities have people looking for home do-it-yourself projects, and if these projects can involve family members to give them something to do too, so much the better.

When car engineers and designers brainstorm ideas for at-home projects, unsurprisingly, they come up with plans for building a car. Kids young and old love the idea of piloting a gravity-powered downhill soapbox derby racer, so that is Hyundai’s project idea.

They’ve provided specific details on the materials, construction plans, dimensions, and assembly so that any family should be able to build their own Hyundai soapbox derby car using common hand tools and supplies that are readily available at home improvement stores.

The wheels and tires, for example, are wheelbarrow hardware. To keep things simple, there’s no steering wheel. Instead, the driver steers using steering levers made from repurposed screwdrivers, sort of the way you’d guide a classic Flexible Flyer sled.

The racer is 39 inches wide and 70 inches long; sized to fit in regular cars for transport to the best nearby hill. Designers specifically targeted the compact Hyundai Elantra hatchback as the carrier vehicle that can transport this downhill racer.

They also sought to keep it simple enough for normal people to build, so the first design’s compound curves ruled that design out. It was replaced by this angular body style that is made of two-dimensional surfaces that are easy to cut out and piece together.

Related:The $34,000 Hyundai Sonata's Groundbreaking Engine Technology

While the Hyundai team painted their car a polarizing shade of yellow, but you can paint yours or otherwise customize it any way that strikes your (or your kids’) fancy.

“I don’t think the point is for people to build what we design and that’s it,” Thomas Bürkle, head of Hyundai Europe Design Center. “Children are full of creativity, full of fantasy, and we need to leave room for that fantasy,” he added.

“For us, it was an interesting project to do a soapbox because mostly the projects are complicated and very sophisticated,” Bürkle noted. “To build something very simple that somebody at home could build was a totally different challenge for us. When we heard about this, we caught fire on that, because it is something that reminds you of your childhood.”

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You can download your own copy of those directions plus all of the relevant component dimensions here.

For a little inspiration for ways to personalize a soapbox derby racer, take a look at some of the entrants who competed with the Mercedes-AMG F1 team at that company’s hometown soapbox derby race.

Related:Soapbox surfing


About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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