Learning how to build a mini car is a wonderful way to teach your children about all of the components that go into making a car work. When people think of mini cars, the first thing that comes to mind are the European small-sized regular cars that you'll find on many roadways there. However, this article details how to build an even smaller body mini car based on a go-kart frame design. This smaller design allows you to avoid the complexities of street legal mini cars, but still designs a vehicle that you and your children can enjoy for years to come.
A Guide on How to Build a Mini Car
If you've ever watched a parade in any community where the Shriners are active, then it's very likely that you've seen grown men cruising down the street in these delightful mini cars that can sometimes reach speeds upwards of 20 to 30 miles per hour on an open road. If you're thinking about building such a car with your child, you should first decide whether you want to build an off-road or racing mini car and then plan your design accordingly.
A Street Racer or an Off-Road Car?
Building a mini car is a fun project for any family, but just like any project that is large in scope and requires a fair financial investment, planning ahead can save you a lot of money and many headaches. There are two major classes of Go-Kart body styles you can use for your mini car: either the street racer style or the off-road body. The street racer is the kind of car Shriners use, or that you'll see at most amusement parks. Off-road carts are somewhat larger, have a cage-style body for safety, and feature larger wheels and a larger engine with more power.
Since some of these mini car designs could result in engine power and car weight that would allow the car to reach speeds upwards of 40 miles an hour, it's very important to follow the design requirements for the design type that you choose. Off-road designs are not built for the smooth tar of most cart tracks, and most street mini cars will not perform very well in a sand dune. For safety and practicality, choose your design based on what you plan to do with the mini car.
Understanding the Major Components
Teaching your child how to build a mini car also teaches them how full sized cars work. The biggest reason for that is because you still have to consider the major components of any vehicle when you're building a smaller scale car. These major systems include the following.
- Wheels and axles
- The main body frame
- Steering assembly
- Suspension and braking system
- Interior with seating and seat belts
- Drive system, including engine, centrifugal clutch, and torque converter
One of the major tasks of building a tube frame mini car is welding. In particular, you will need to weld the frame using tube steel, and many of the car's systems are connected through parts that also require some welding. So if you don't know how to weld, or you don't know anyone who can do it for you, you may need to stick with purchasing premade parts. You can buy a kit or selection of pre-welded parts, like an entire go-kart body, and then focus on assembling the systems together. This approach will be somewhat more expensive and removes some of your freedom to develop your own mini car design, but if you do not have the required welding skills, then it is the best option.
Free Mini Car Design Plans
The best place to start when you're planning such a project is with go-kart plans. You can use these plans as a foundation for your project. Most people don't have the ability to fabricate their own design and take all the factors into account, so purchasing body design plans is often the best approach. The following resources offer some of the best design plans. You can order these online and have the plans sent directly to your home. These plans include a parts list as well as assembly instructions. Many of the providers of these design plans also offer kit assemblies that you can order - saving you a great deal of time and labor.
- DIY Go Karts offers a list of 9 pages of design plans. These include one and two seat frame designs, as well as assembly instructions for building your own drive assembly, brake and throttle system, and more.
- SpiderCarts provides about seven design styles, all with their own Arachnid brand related to the style of the frame. You'll also find a Q&A section, a resource page, and even a forum of other mini car building enthusiasts.
- KartBuilding is a very valuable resource for mini car builders. It lists many tools and resources for builders, including design plans for frames built from both steel or wood, kart building blogs and forums, and much more.
- GoKartPlans sells a whole assortment of design plans that offer a decent variety of styles to choose from.
- GoKartGuru provides a variety of designs and ideas and even describes how to build a mini car from a "pile of junk."
- Instructables is always an excellent resource for DIY projects, and has several pages on how to build your go-cart.
Previewing the designs listed above will help you decide what kind of mini car you'd like to build and what materials you should use. Once you make the decision and choose a design, start ordering or building the parts, and get started building your first mini car today.