Ariel Square 4 Powered Custom Wooden Car

Ariel Square 4 powered wooden custom car

Mechanix Illustrated magazineBack in 1959, a wooden boat builder decided to build a car, so, drawing on what he knew, he built a wooden car. For power, he mounted a 1952 Ariel Square 4 motorcycle engine in the rear. Citroen suspension, Cadillac taillights and who knows what else completes this custom but, you have to admit, it's different, kind of reminds me of the type of car you would build from plans out of an old Mechanix Illustrated magazine. (See update below)

It's for sale on eBay. If you're more the woodworking type than a metal worker and like the smell of varnish, this is your car.

UPDATE: As Dan mentions in the comments below, this was indeed built from plans in Mechanix Illustrated, September 1956 to be exact. I have the feeling I saw this cover before, which would have given me the impression I noted above. They had a lot of really interesting plans back then and more guys probably had woodshops at home than metal shops so it catered to their readers. Thanks for the magazine pointer, Dan.

More photos below:

Ariel Square 4 powered wooden custom car

Ariel Square 4 powered wooden custom car

Ariel Square 4 powered wooden custom car

Link: Ariel Car

Related: Motorcycle engine powered cars
Related: Ariel motorcycles for sale


  1. Jeff says

    That’s cool . A soapbox derby with an engine .Looks like it would be a lot of fun to drive around town .

  2. Phoebe says

    Wow, it’s actually kind of beautiful in a minimalist function-dictates-form kind of way. I like it! =)

  3. todd says

    Probably sounds great what with the intake right in your arm pit. Good thing they turned the head around to point the exhaust out the rear! I’d love to build something like this. My dad and I have been talking of building a reverse trike (for road legal reasons) with a CBX or Kawi 6 in the front. Of course it’s always the money – lack of it – that gets in the way.


  4. Peter says

    What a delight! But of all the engines to choose, he picks one that suffered badly from overheating, even stuck out in the slipstream of its motorcycle frame. And he mounts it inside the body! I hope there was a very big fan or ducting in front of it.

    What I like about is that he probably knew more about wood than steel so he went with what he knew. Not that wooden cars are too far off the beam; Marcos cars were very handy back in the 1960s and 1970s. And Morgans still use wooden frames.

  5. hobomike says

    You sir, must spend a lot of time surfing eBay. That said, I’m often grateful for it. You should get a commission!

  6. Bob C says

    Answer #5 from Todd and #6 from Pete, I remember seeing this car back in 1960. I don’t remember the engine being turned around like that. I do remember the front suspension was Ford. Back then we built stuff with what we had handy at the time. We built a ‘few’ lawn mower engined bicycles. You have to remember CBX or Kaw 6’s did not exist in 1959. You used what was handy. Back after WW2 there were all sorts of m/c engined vehicles on the road in England and many European countries. They never really caught on here in the US.

  7. Gene says

    The engines not backwards, the head is mounted 180* out, so the exhaust ports are out the back.
    I had a 47 Squirrel 4 and can’t imagine ruinng a well handeling and good looking bike to build a wooden car.
    Gene O

  8. christophe denot says

    You said that’s a Citroen front suspension…

    It is not true ! I am sure of that !
    But probably the same suspension than in Mechanix Illustrated magazine
    which is a “Renault 4cv” suspension first model with “jantes ├ętoiles” (star rim) imported in States in 50′.

    Citroen suspensions are very special an unique all over the world :
    – sometime very simple, like the Mass-Dumper-System invented by Citroen in 1949 with the “2cv” and used now in Formula One !!!
    – sometime extremely complex, like the patented Hydro-Pneumatic-System invented by Citroen in 1955 with the “DS” and used now
    in C6 Presidential Model of…Nicolas Sarkosy !!!

    Thanks for your attention !

  9. J Callaghan says

    I recall a motorcycle powered home built that appeared in Mechanix Illustrated in I think the 1950’s. It was called BuckBoard and had a wooden oak frame, Ford front suspension, and a VW beetle trans-drive chain driven by a motorcycle engine. The body was built up wood strips and the engine enclosure was copper sheet fastened over the opening for the engine cylinder and head. The windscreen and the mudguards were built up out of steel rod with sheet covering in the case of the fenders and plexiglas for the windshield. The wheels were motorcycle wheels and the headlights retracted into openings in the front of the car body. As I recall the body was built up using formers as in wood aircraft construction. The article had actual pictures of the construction so I know at least on model was built. I hope someone else recalls this article.

  10. Gordon says

    I have a set of those plans, they are in pdf and are called Speedball Special Plans. A search on the internet will probably net you a set yourself!

  11. wayne madsen says

    I read the 56 article.
    Also had a friend who built his own space frame chassis (independent rear
    suspension), used a 50 Olds V8, and built a very nice fiberglass body.

    The article and my buddy’s work were inspirations to me.

    I bought a junkyard 56 Ford taxi chassis, a 55 Chev v8 with a few tweaks,
    and built a similar body (my Dad had a wood shop). Never finished to look as
    beautiful as the cars in the article, but servicable. Took me to Northern Calif
    for grad school and I used it daily for over a year.