Bluth Family Stair Car – PPPRS

For the Power Racing Series event at Maker Faire Detroit we decided to rebuild Duck, which was rebuilt from Noah Way, into something new. We decided on the Bluth Family Stair Car because we love Arrested Development and because Jim added it to the list of cars that get extra Moxie points.


The photo above served as our reference image when we were building the body for the car. We didn’t really make any modifications to the frame of the car, and it remained largely what it was when it raced a Make Faire Kansas City in June.


This is what we ended up with. The entire body, paint job, etc. was done in about two nights right before we left for Detroit. (This is typical for the build of a PPPRS vehicle at Milwaukee Makerspace, and sometimes referred to as a “Rage Build”). Oh, while Ed, Kathy, and various other helpers worked on the car itself (electronics, mechanicals, etc.) I focused on the body, because I tend to fall back on my design skills when others jump into the areas they know way more about than I do…


We started out with a bunch of Coroplast (aka “corrugated plastic”) sheets that Kathy brought in, and I created a “box” from which to cut away the unwanted parts, leaving us what would ultimately be the Stair Car. I also took this opportunity to learn all about pop rivets and how they work (and don’t work) and most of the body is held together with pop rivets, washers, and gaff tape.


Pieces have been cut away, and it looks more Stair Car-ish, and started to get a paint job. I should note that Shane and Carl pitched in here with the body, and helped out tremendously.


Meanwhile, over at the vinyl cutter… With a degree in Graphic Design, this is where I get nerdy, and try to replicate things exactly (as time allows) so yeah, I had to find the graphic, convert it to vector, cut the vinyl mask…


…and cut the other vinyl mask, and get things ready for painting. Weeding vinyl is so much fun, why not do it twice!? Yeah, I ended up redoing the whole thing because I used paint that did not stick to plastic. Argh! No worries, practice makes perfect!


I may have made a huge mistake, but it turned out fine in the end. I made another sign for the other side while Shane was making car door windows and a front grill with headlights.


Oh yeah, at some point Ed added another motor so that the car now had front wheel drive via the bicycle hub motor, and one-side rear wheel drive from some motor and controller we had laying around the space.


Some pieces ready for painting, and the soon-to-be Stair Car in the background, awaiting the Banana-worthy upgrade.


Ready for Detroit! I mean, as ready as we could get it with just a few nights working on it until 3:15am or so. It still looks like a bike inside of a box but if you squint real hard… Stair Car!

(At this point I should also note that while no number appears on the “real” Stair Car, the number 40 added to ours does use the font from the opening titles of the television show. Because again, I’m a design nerd.)


The front view is less Stair Car-like, but luckily Karen at the space helped Kathy make an awesome Banana-helmet attachment that really cements the deal. Solid as a rock!


I ran out of time (and steam, which is bad, because I’m powered by steam) and didn’t get to do anything excellent with the back of the car (like add a set of detachable stairs) so it just says “There’s Always Money in the Banana Stand” (though I should have changed “Money” to “Moxie”, oh well.)


The side view is much better than the front or back, which makes sense, but that doesn’t stop race fans young and old from enjoying the Stair Car and shouting out “Go Banana Go!” when they see it pass the slowest cars on the track.


Stay Tuned for the further adventures of Stair Car… With it placing 11th in the season standings for 2016 and one more race left it ain’t over yet!