Build Your Own Car… From Scratch

Most of us settle for modding the latest car we’ve bought. [Steve Graber] took another approach and built his own car from scratch. [John] sent in this impressive project. The original was built around Toyota MR2 parts and the body was made from fiberglass after the design was hand made from a wooden support frame, foam and drywall mud that was sanded down to create the shape. After that, molds were made from the slug to allow the panels to be cast from fiberglass. [Steve] is actually offering the car up as a build-it-yourself kit. Personally, I’d like the see the price come down a bit – the 1,500lb street weight would make a sweet basis for an electric car.

Bonus: If you’d doing EVs, bots or R/C toys, you might like this comparison of the latest breed of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries by [Ian Hooper].

42 thoughts on “Build Your Own Car… From Scratch

  1. I was looking at the battery charger circuit and I saw it had a 7805 which if my memory services right, is a linear voltage regulator. I avoid those now, because they are typically very inefficient. Could one use a switching regulator, like the ones max makes. They seem to an awesome job, and i have tons of them sitting around in my room. You can get tons of them for free if you are like that (which I am).

  2. steffen: what 5v regulators are you refering to?

    and a bit more on topic, there is another company in indiana that is going to start selling a similar car but more of an indy/f1 racing style soon very similar to this.

  3. lol, even if you thick resin and wax fiberglass it still gradually rots. It also deteriorates urethanes and enamels when heated which means shotty paint in a matter of years. I’ve seen it happen to professionally done urethane acrylic paint in a matter of 3 years even with routine waxing just under regular sunlight.

    I also like the design, but I’d use polymers and improve the circuits. Also use solar and a couple deep cycles. LIPO would be like sitting on a corrosive bomb.

    I love how every ignores the most low yield energy source in the world: solar.

  4. Theres nowt wrong with fibreglass, with the correct prep it’ll last a damn sight longer than metal bodies do. There are TVRs knocking about from the early 80’s with original body and paint, full fibreglass. With modern epoxies problems are minimised even further. F/glass only rots when left unsealed in humid/wet conditions for long periods, it is, after all, just glass and plastic mixed.

  5. For 25k you get pretty much everything you need, except the engine, tranny, paint, and basically everything else you would need… Hell, I’d drive a cardboard box around if it could do 12 sec 1/4 miles. why spend so much without even getting an engine?

  6. Like I said: solid polymer for the body, and improve the electrical. We’re talking about communications satellites for NASA, just a electric car with a neat looking body, and tuner wheels.

  7. I haven’t been following the kit car world for years, so I don’t have a clue, how this stacks up with whatever else is available to mod into an EV. I’m not so sure if fiberglass has all the drawbacks posted here it would be in such wide spread use.

  8. So this is where all the traffic to my website is coming from! Thanks for the mention Hack-A-Day!

    If you spend even 5 minutes on my website and get into the diary you will see that I have thousands of photos, and hundreds of diary entries detailing every phase of my build saga covering 5 years. The car was built almost entirely in 1/2 of a 2 car garage using the most basic metalworking tools. I designed and built the frame, suspension, and bodywork myself. One person – Solo. It is a big accomplishment if I say so myself. (pats back)

    I feel the need to clarify something that seems to pop up often on these types of comment areas about my car, or any handcrafted low production volume automobile for that matter. When you build a single car or even 10 cars from scratch, you do not have the benefit of the economies of scale that come from mass production. Therefore you can’t expect the car to cost $5,000.

    One only has to realize that even a lightweight car such as La Bala requires a huge number of components and a huge amount of time/effort to build. Every last nut and bolt does cost SOMETHING, and it has to be sourced from somewhere after all! I have a filing cabinet just for receipts. So until you get into it I guess you don’t know what it costs. I am here to set that record straight right now.

    I would like to point out to Jordan that the reason for offering the car without the engine is that you can choose an engine that you prefer. I know that people have a preferred brand and La Bala is unique in that it has been designed to accept ANY FWD drivetrain in a mid-engine configuration! You like Honda? it fits, Toyota? go for it! GM Ecotec? great choice. Are you starting to see how this works? A crate GM EcotecSS outputting 245HP can be ordered from the GM catalog for $2,500. Bolt it into a La Bala and you have a 1,500Lb mid-engine sportscar that is totally unique (and not too shabby looking IMHO) that will do high-11’s in the 1/4, 0-60 in the low 4’s or high 3’s, stop and turn on a dime and cost less than $30,000! Too expensive? Gimme a break. The Ariel Atom starts at $60,000!

    The track version of La Bala that I am offering is different from the street version and is comprised of all-new race car components. It is made from the highest quality materials. And, if you don’t want a track car, then the street version (shown above) based on the MKI MR2 can be built for about 1/2 the cost of the track version, but you have to build it yourself using my plans. So get out your angle grinder, band saw and your welder because you really can build your own la Bala!

  9. “Have the glass-haters never seen a Corvette?”

    Ever seen one of those models after an accident? I have. The engine went threw the taillights. Also try looking at one that is poorly maintained or a daily driver, my previous statements are still going to hold true.

    For 25k I’d buy a 07 impreza and convert it to electric, or one of the other 07 tuner cars you can get for that: civic si, rx8 etc..

  10. The point is, that this car is less than half the weight of your average car. Things like RX8s, Imprezas, are all around 1400 KG, as opposed to this car at 670 KG. I’m not sure if that weight figure includes an engine or not (I believe that figure includes the 4AGE engine). If it doesn’t, add an engine and you’re still around 800KG which is damn light. That gives it brilliant power-to-weight for a low price. Compare that to the 850KG Lotus Elise or Exige for more like $80,000.

  11. Yeah, a bit like an Elise is something of an understatement. The back end looks like pure Elise, he might have altered the front a bit but it seems a bit of a cheat calling it an original body design. If I wanted a cheap elise clone I’d buy a vauxhall vx220 and maybe convert to electric :)

  12. This is starting to remind me of that old john hancock snl sketch where the grandpa buys a toy wooden boat, whittles on it, and gives it to his son.

    I like the concept of home brew cars from the ground up, but a lot of the stuff I’m seeing isn’t really original. What about active suspensions designs and stuff?

    Something tells me you could get just a good if not better designs then this for less than 25k. That’s even using better quality parts too.

  13. I gotta make another comment. I read through the diary part, and most of the other site. Is it me or is there no real details on building this car? I specifically looked for chassis welding and metal grades, but a lot of other stuff is missing too.

    It’s kind of interesting to read commentary and look at images I guess, but the site really isn’t too informative.

  14. I totally agree thekhakinator, but I was most interested in the metal grade and welding he used on the overall frame. Most people here where already capable of designing electrical systems, and suspensions before this entry.

  15. He has a reference section somewhere with the books he used to learn how to do that stuff. Guess he figured it would be superfluous to re-iterate chassis design and welding, but a couple of years ago when I first stumbled onto the site that’s all I was interested in too.

  16. “Guess he figured it would be superfluous to re-iterate chassis design and welding”

    On the contrary, that’s probably the only complex process in his whole project, and good luck finding a *single source* for that type of chassis fabrication on the net or elsewhere without forking over money.

    Fiberglass and polymer body kits like that have been in mail order catalogs for decades, and even high school drop outs are tuning and swapping both carburetor and fuel injected engines now days.

    Outside the suspension and chassis design it’s pure shade tree mechanic material. I guess it takes a person with basic knowledge of automotive engineering to appreciate that aspect, and not be blinded by the aesthetics.

  17. i wanted to ask about that car u have made,

    i dont know much about how america works with from scratch cars for on-road legality,

    but i wander, if i ever made one of those….

    1) do u think it could be made eu/uk road legal?
    2) u could put in a huge tank so it travels further
    3) if its possible to create a super sound system / carpc in ur creation
    4) would it of been cheaper with local parts in the uk, should i of made one , (rather than importing etc)
    and…. 5)how many MPS’s did u get? (+ which fuel?)

  18. I am currently building my own car.
    And you are right about the cost, I thought I would gat away with it for about 10 000$ and i am up to 15k and it still doesn’t run. I am just wondering, I am thinking about fiberglass for the body.
    Do yo know if I have to make a mold of the entire car, or can I use something like chicken cage and put the fiberglass on it. I am also wondering if the fiberglass will be solid enough to hold the windshield without breaking it. and then how can I fix the body to the frame the lightest way possible.


  19. Why should I spend $99 to find out about a $25,000 or $30,000 car that I mite buy that has NO crash test ratings or NO road rules or unbiased videos that should be lake this
    and that are not all posted buy the maker of the car.
    I can’t find a 1/4 mi time ether.
    There is NO videos of the car doing work compared to others lake
    $99 is a lot to throw away for a car that could be vary unsafe or above the 13.00 sec 1/4 mi with it weight.

  20. hmmm not what i had in mind when i googled the search, i was curious if anyone could make a car from scratch, and from scratch for me would be start at mining for the metal, not buying premade parts

  21. Hello everyone!
    I am interested in building my own car. Well actually designing my own car and then having it built. This was not the information that I was origionally expecting when I found this site. But the car is nice. How ever, I was looking more for the technical stuff as in what engine, brakes, transmission, type of suspension, etc.. that was used.

    For example: 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4cylinder, 5speed auto w/paddle shift, 4wheel independant suspension, etc..

    I have several ideas for cars, using parts that are already available, with the only exceptions being the body and possibly the frame. I know there are resources available to learn how to design and construct those parts. But finiding them is the problem I have, especially with no $$$$!

  22. personaly i would drop a B16 with a T4 twin ballbaring turbo ,and add some light weight piston rods and some titanium lifters and valve spring , bigger fuel rail and fuel injecters,and add a weapons R coldair intake ,put a 4.2.1 racing headers on, and bigger cam like from ComPCams. Then this beast would be rolling. Buck 20 noooooo problem. Now guys dont get me wrong i know that the ivtek is nice but with the set up im talking about would make your every day grandma grocrie getter neon ,2nd gen of course smoke that car.

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