$ 2,500 DIY a Car


Tired of high gas prices? For $2,500 and 1,000 hours, you can build a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon.

In the upper picture, I am having my moment of truth: Once I cut this frame, there will be no turning back.  Please imagine me wearing the necessary safety glasses and ear protection. 

In the lower picture, my wooden stand is holding the forks in their desired position.  I’m trying to figure out how to build the main connecting chassis: Shall I use more 2″ round tube like the scooter frame?  No!  Not strong enough.

You can see the original honda handlebars being tried out for position, and also Honda’s  wonderful variable speed drive, using a ribber belt with spring-loaded pulleys.


In the upper picture, you see that cold groundhog day in Maine after three months of building.  I clamped a plank on the frame to sit on, had all the electrics rigged up in the original way, set up a forward foot rest using conduit coming forward from the frame, hung with red straps, connected the speedo to the handlebars, and with my warmest clothing on, slowly headed out of the driveway.  GASP!   But this experience was such a helpful inspiration to the next frustrating months of bodybuilding.

In the lower photo, the white panels of the overhead door are done, but the windows must be sculpted once the position of the lower edges are decided upon.  Yet this cannot be done without some idea of the rear panels.  I felt the car would look better if the rear panels had some upward flow, rather than downward.   Note the child’s car seat I used for the testing.  It says “60 pounds max”.   Actually quite comfortable…

In this lower photo you can see the white ‘steering plates’ which are welded to the front on the motorscooter forks  and through which the “heim”  ball-joint fittings are bolted.

In the upper picture, you can see just how many clamps it takes to bend a lexan panel in place,  all without scratching anything too much.  Once the panel is thoroughly in place, you can drill, tap, countersink for the 6-32 flathead SS screws.  When all are ready,  the panel is removed, silicone caulk is applied, and the whole thing finally screwed down and excess caulk removed.  Screw holes are also caulked.  You can  see that seating experiments were also going on: a rather minimalist plank and bungecords used as a backrest.  Not enough comfort!

In the lower picture, you see some bald guy bending the 1.5″ wide by eighth-inch thick flatbar, which will be the forward frame of the overhead door,  using the forward arch as a form for the bending.  A small piece of conduit is used to help the bending.  Be sure to overbend the arch, so it is sprung in place when attached.  Otherwise the sides will bow outward and let in weather.  This picture, of course, was taken before the picture above.

In this photo you can  see the motorcycle steering head, with the excess shaft sawed off.  This will eventually disappear behind the black side panels with the moonbeam logo, which you see on the home page. I didn’t want to mess with the widely-spaced steering head bearings.

Behind, you see the rear portion of the second scooter which was not needed and  resold on E-bay.

This photo is looking forward from the driver’s seat.  It’s a good view of the back-to-back “Heim” fittings which go from the steering arm below the handlebars out in opposite directions to each wheel.  You can also see some of the 2″ flatbar welded between the two forward frame members to be junctions of the plastic body panels.  You can see the 4″ automotive headlights jammed into 4″ rubber pipe couplings as a nice simple way to mount headlight bulbs.  You can see the steering post , wrapped in black tape to minimize glare, coming out of the front frame member to give the maximum footroom to the passenger.

Here you see the right handlebar brake caliper.  The  original cable attachment has been doubled for the second front wheel.  The orange engine kill switch will eventually be a switch for the wipers.   Everything has black electrical tape on it to cut down the glare in the windshield.

Here you see routine maintenance going on through the removeable rear panel.  The white panel is to my right, and the engine surround panel, with its soundproofing is leaning against it.  I am replacing the cover for the variable speed drive, having checked the drive belt for wear prior to the drive to Boston.   That belt, even with the greater load of a larger vehicle, wears very slowly.  The service interval is 15,000 miles!  It would be hard to change on the open road, though, since you need a wheel puller.

 It takes less than 5 minutes to access either side of the engine.

In this picture, you are the driver.  You can see the heater off to the left, the wiper motor, the Honda speedometer cluster, and two toggle switches.  These control the headlights, and the heater vs. defroster choice.  Where the steering rods go through the side panels, there are stretched inner-tube rubbers to minimize road splash.

Here you see the canopy closed, and my coveted inspection sticker stuck on the windshield.  Moonbeam  looks fairly respectable from this angle.  My original name was ” l’oeuf roulant”, the rolling egg.

Moonbeam is easy to get into.  The center strut is offset to the right which makes it easier to enter from the left.  The seat, though, is pretty low, and not too cushy.  My 92-year-old mother thinks it needs more foam.

Here the canopy is snapped in the half-open position, which is great for travel to dispell the excess heat from the heater and give a nice sunroof feeling.


Source by Wayland