Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

Plastic barrel soap box derby cart

Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

Playing with toy cars builds a child’s fine motor skills. They develop hand-eye coordination and dexterity in both hands. Sometimes, they even learn more by competing and working as a team.

Do you have kids who love cars, who want to enter a soapbox derby competition, or just love being active outdoors? Make them happy by making a soapbox derby cart with plastic drum barrels!

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08/09/2022 07:20 am GMT

You can never go wrong with this DIY project, especially if you customize it even more with a design that they will love!

What’s great about this soapbox derby is that you can create one entirely out of used parts and materials. You can even add accessories like headlights from junk shops or old cars. Just make sure that all your hardware is new and in good condition!

Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

Read on to learn how to make this plastic barrel soapbox derby :)


  • 220 Litre Plastic Drum Barrel
  • 4 Bicycle Weels (14″ – 20″ are ideal)
  • 3 pieces, 1 meter long Timber
  • 4 pieces Timber (75 mm longer than wheel diameter)
  • M10 Bolts with matching Lock Nuts
  • M8 Threaded Bar
  • Screws
  • Small Bolts
  • 15 mm x 3 mm Steel Bar (for track rods and control arms)
  • 2 – 15 mm equal T Plumbing Fittings


  • Jigsaw
  • Cordless Drill
  • Measuring Tape


Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

Take your drum, and drill a hole on the side near the bottom big enough to take a jigsaw or padsaw blade.  This is so the hole for the driver can be cut.

Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

It needs to be big enough to allow easy ingress and egress but small enough to keep the cub safe when they eventually crash it.

Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

Rear wheels: For this stage, you need two of the 1 meter long pieces of timber. Bike wheels are great for soapboxes provided:

  • they are not too large (less than 20″ is ideal)
  • they often need to be supported on both sides

Plastic Barrel Soap Derby Box

The two 1metre lengths feed across the width of the drum. These photos were taken when we were experimenting with the layout so the final version was slightly different…

Plastic Barrel Soap Box Derby

but you do have to use what is now the rear of the cart to support the axle.

We also used our standard-issue 9 yr old to check the cockpit size.

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