Let’s Roll! A Beginner’s Guide to Building RC Cars

Regardless of what generation you grew up in, most of us remember having or at least wanting an RC car. As adults, many of us have even taken to building RC cars.

Building RC cars, or really any model vehicle, whether functional or decorative, can be a lot of fun. The problem is that you never hear about amateurs taking up the hobby. It seems like any model builder we hear about has already worked their way up to functional, scale-model, hand-painted Japanese Zeros or something equally mind-boggling.

  • How do you begin to take up this hobby?
  • How would you even get started at building RC cars?

We’ll try to explain all that and more in the paragraphs below.

Know What You’re Buying

Any business dealing with any product is going to have competitors, and RC vehicles are no exception. However, there are a few specific things to look out for when selecting a different model of RC car.

There are actually a few different types of RC vehicles, commonly referred to as toy models and hobby models. The basic difference is that toy models are mostly just that–toys.

They’re still radio-controlled and still functional, but they’re made by toy companies and sold in department stores. Because of this, replacement parts may not be on the market, so if the vehicle breaks, there’s not a lot of hope of fixing it.

The hobby models, on the other hand, are typically more expensive and can only be found in various toy and hobby stores. That being said, a good hobby model vehicle can last literally decades, provided you’re willing to replace a part every once in a while.

They were built to be endlessly replaceable and modifiable, so keeping them in good shape and even trying something new with them is very doable.

RC Car Types and What They Do

Street Cars

Street cars are functional but fairly simplistic. They can drive on sidewalks, roads, and other largely flat surfaces, but aren’t designed for much else. This might be the type to start with when building RC cars.

Drift Cars

Drift cars are a lot like street cars, except that they’re much faster, and somewhat more maneuverable, hence the name. Even so, they can be hard to control, so you might wanna be careful until you get the hang of driving it. Word of caution: When we say much faster, we mean it. A good model RC car can almost keep pace with an actual car.


Buggy cars are the way to go if you want to drive off-road — slowly. Though buggies are formidable on and off road, they’re not very fast when it comes to the latter. This may be the best model for building RC cars if you’re new to off-road.


Truggies are basically buggies modded to handle better off-road. They’re still not horribly fast off-road, but they can hold their own on-road.


Basically the opposite of a buggy, these things are off-road masters. However, they don’t take actual roads too well, so don’t go for a truck unless you plan to go off-road a lot.


There are also plenty of RC vehicles which aren’t cars, such as boats, helicopters, planes, etc. If you’re not one for the road, or simply don’t want to spend money on something you drive in basically every day, these may be the vehicles for you, and they can be pretty amazing in their own right.

Building RC Cars

Now comes the question of what goes into actually building RC cars. Typically, an RC vehicle will come as a frame, so what’s left is to construct the car on top of it.

The good news is that there’s not much to say here because pretty much every RC vehicle will come with instructions to build it. Most will also come with a battery pack.

There are a few different types of engines, but batteries are a lot cheaper because they are rechargeable and don’t require fuel.

Motors, Models, and Madness

Building RC cars can prove to be a lifelong hobby if you decide that you like it. A bit of work goes into selecting and building the right model for you, but with a few replacements and mods every now and then, they should last a while.

Selecting a model mostly has to do with your budget and personal preference. How do you want to drive your model car? On-road? Off-road? Both? Maybe driving isn’t for you, and you’d rather fly or sail. There are plenty of options for that, too.

If you want to know more about various hobbies and lifestyle topics, please visit our site. In fact, perhaps you’d prefer a different hobby, in which case, may we suggest billiards?

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