Tools available would be wire, bricks, hammers, a hack saw, a pair of compound snips, and flex glue. As well as the intact body of the car itself. Assume you find the tools inside or easily within view.

The context is that the individual crafting the equipment has some technical know-how but lacks the means to more effectively process available materials.

Fire cannot be used, either because the individual is not a blacksmith or because it would draw unwanted attention. The car, manufactured in 1997, is also unusable as a motor vehicle due to circumstances beyond their control.

A description of the method and resulting weapon or armour, as well as confirmation of this being plausible are desired.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have a preference for a type of weapon? You mention a "blade", but that covers a lot of ground, and you could also end up with e.g. a spear or hammer without too much effort. $\endgroup$ – Cadence Jan 13 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ Just clarified that. :) $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Barrett Jan 13 at 10:33
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    $\begingroup$ Why would you want fire? grinder would make this job easy... do you mean no power tools? $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Jan 13 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ Only tools available are listed above. No power tools unfortunately,and no fire was meant more to prevent people trying to melt or soften the metal using extreme heat prior to shaping. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Barrett Jan 13 at 10:45

There are strategies how to use a car as weapon or armor, but none of them look like a medieval knight in armor. The outer metal sheets are much too thin to be effective.

Protect your body

If you want to surround your body with metal plates from a car, you need to use several layers (I think 3 layers as a minimum or your bending and ripping armor might injure you more than the initial blow). Even in 1997 car manufacturers wanted their cars to be inexpensive and lightweight, so they used the thinnest reasonably possible metal sheets.

The tires are far more effective as armor, but heavy and cumbersome. You need to cut (or saw) the sides away so only the tread remains. Tires have a steel mesh incorporated into the tread that - in combination with the rubber - should withstand hard blows and maybe even stop arrows. I propose padding the inside with material from the seats or doors and maybe add a layer of sheet metal on the outside to distribute the force of impacts to a wider area, decreasing the risk of bone fractures.

Cut the tires into a form like a bulletproof vest, then use strips of seat belts and glue to hold the thing together. If the glue doesn't stick, find something like a nail and use it to push the ends of the belts through the tires with a hammer and then tie them off.

Protect your life

Take that first aid kit with you! No matter what, you want that first aid kit.

Make a weapon

The problem with a short sword is its shortness. The risk of being injured gets higher, the closer your enemy gets to you.

Is there a crowbar or a long handle of a car jack in the car? There you have a very simple weapon with a range comparable to a short sword.

For an untrained person, I would suggest finding something that resembles a spear. You don't want to shape the outer metal plate into a spear unless you want it to be one-use-only. It will bent much too fast. Unfortunately, nothing in a car comes to my mind that could be used as a spear shaft. If there's a young tree with a straight stem nearby, cut that down and use it as a shaft. To make a suitable spear-point, cars quite frequently use cast steel for wishbones which (with a lot of hacksawing) could be made into a very serviceable spearhead. (Thanks to Ynneadwraith for the suggestion)

Instead you could tie a heavy object to the end of a seat belt and use that as weapon (like a ball-and-chain-flail).

Are there glass bottles lying around? (I hate people who never clean their car) Fill them with fuel, oil or pure de-icer, stuff some fabric from the seats into the opening and have your lighter at hand. You now have a molotov cocktail.

If you don't have a lighter, carefully open the car's battery and fill the bottles with acid.

Is there a fire extinguisher in the car? That can be utilized as a weapon, too. With some MacGyvering you could build a rudimentary cannon and load it with the remains of the wind shield or some batery acid. I'm not sure the fire extinguisher has enough pressure to blow glass shards very far, but you could very carefully extract an airbag and use that to propel your projectiles. (Airbags are dangerous and an untrained person could kill themselves by accidently activating one. They do pack a punch!)

You could also build a slingshot with a V-belt and maybe something like the headrest of a seat. Glue a little bowl-shaped piece of plastic to the belt and load it with the shards of a window.

I'm sure with enough time and the right incentive, you could find many more ways to utilize a car as weapon. But do you have to?

Be a Magician

If the story is about a man landing in the past or another dimension and facing the natives of this area, he might fare better by pretending to have macical powers. Things like a torchlight, fire extinguisher, space blanket or the car's horn would seem pretty magical to them. If you aren't strong, you better be smart.

  • $\begingroup$ Excellent answer, so I won't make my own. A few points of addition if you'd like. To make a suitable spear-point, cars quite frequently use cast steel for wishbones which (with a lot of hacksawing) could be made into a very serviceable spearhead. I'd also argue that even for a trained individual, a spear makes a far better weapon. The effectiveness of spears is very often dismissed, but they are far more versatile and in all likelihood more deadly than swords as this excellent video demonstrates: youtube.com/watch?v=uLLv8E2pWdk $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 14 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ Also, excellent point about car sheetmetal being too thin to reliably form into armour (it's frequently less than 1mm thick on body panels). Workable scale armour could be made from the thicker crash structures, but I doubt the tin-snips would work with thicker steel and the hacksaw would be long-blunt before you're done. Perhaps the best use would be thin scale (or thin plate) over the top of your tyre plates in order to deflect blows. The rubber of a tyre would likely grip a blow and increase blunt force trauma. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 14 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ Short swords are always used with shields. Shields can be built, just like armor. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Jan 15 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ I'm by no means an expert in car engines, but shouldn't it be possible to built something weapon-like out of the wheel axis (if continuous on front or rear) or the drive shaft ? Might not give a full sized spear, and maybe be quite heavy. but ... $\endgroup$ – Nicolai Jan 15 at 14:46

A hacksaw would take time but would do the job with care if you only had one blade. If you had more you could work faster.

Car sheet metal is already ideal for armour because it can be shaped with the tools available. It just needs to be cut to shape and then could be hammered to fit the body and wired to hold together, double up the critical parts. So chest and backplate, greaves, thigh guards, even a helmet if you had the time. Pad whatever needs padding using the seat material. You don't need heat at all. You could make forearm guards, but since you're using a shortsword, probably better to fashion a shield. Hammer over a piece of metal, but first cut the grip and forearm brace and shape them on the side which will be inner. Bonnet and boot are your best options, the steel there is usually thicker and has existing reinforcement.

For your sword you could use plate as well, just hammer it over into a fold and sharpen one end against concrete or hacksaw it on an angle to produce a sharp edge (or both), and wrap the handle part so you don't cut yourself. Would make a robust ,serviceable shortsword. This is mild steel though, ok for a fight or three, but not longterm against people with stronger weapons.

Shoulder/neck guards and other important parts you could use two thicknesses of plate with some seat material glued between. That would give you 2.4 mm of steel which is more than medieval plate armour. If you had the shield you wouldn't need much else and weight will be a factor.

All this is just time and elbow grease.

There are lots of better weapons that could be made from car parts though if you really had a lot of time. Even the snips broken apart would make a good spear point. However the Romans routinely took on all comers with shields and shortswords. The snips blade, some plate and a shaft made from exhaust pipe would make a couple of pilum which would give you a big advantage against most individuals. Throw the pilum then engage with shortsword and shield.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm okay sounds good to me. And true,but I am curious what people will come up with keeping it this restricted. For instance you've suggested a single edged blade folded for additional strength. As well as sound armour for protecting a good amount of body surface area. You even included the sharpening method. I look forward to more answers to this question. $\endgroup$ – Jeremy Barrett Jan 13 at 10:56
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    $\begingroup$ car steel == bad armor... [ youtu.be/uH1go9im24M?t=84 ] $\endgroup$ – NofP Jan 13 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Elmy I used to own a wreckers yard, it doesn't pierce that easily... try it on a wreck and see what happens. you can pierce it but it's not easy to penetrate and wrecks are not moving around trying to kill you while you do it, and shaping it would remove flat surfaces. Padding would give the armour a little more movement to take some of the momentum out of a thrust. Any thicker and it's going to really weigh you down $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Jan 13 at 21:48
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    $\begingroup$ Any armor can be pierced, but that doesn't make it bad armor. The goal is to increase the likelihood that a blow will be deflected, or to reduce the amount of harm it does if it penetrates. Chop through sheet metal with an axe and you may cut through, but your blow will give up a lot of energy in the process. $\endgroup$ – Joe Jan 14 at 1:58
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    $\begingroup$ You're right that the steel used for cars is unlikely to be much use as armour directly (it's frequently less than 1mm thick). However, if snipped into scutes and layered it may be effective as scale armour. Each individual scute would be pretty weak, but by layering you could prevent penetration. The advantage of steel over a tyre would be in deflecting a blow if shaped correctly too. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 14 at 16:46

Creating an improvised weapon from the remains of a car could be as easy as recovering the jack handle from the trunk. In many cases, it can also make a good improvised crowbar or be used as a general purpose tool as well as a weapon.

enter image description here

Jack handle/lug wrench combo. The sharp screwdriver like point at one end can be used to stab enemies or pry open doors and boxes

Armour is a much trickier topic. Many people believe all you need is some solid metal to stop a blow, but this ignores the fact forces can be transmitted through the armour plate. In the late middle ages, smashing weapons like hammers and maces became common because well made suits of plate could deflect sword strikes and thrusts from spears and other polearms.

Since we are limited to the materials of a car, you will need the following:

A gambison, or padded jacket to absorb and distribute the force of blows against your person. A well made gambison is good protection in of itself for things like slashing attacks. The fabric covers of the seat and the padding within could be repurposed with some creative sewing to make a gambison for you to wear.

enter image description here

A nice example of a gambison

The next level would be some sort of outer protection. As noted, the sheet metal of modern cars is rather thin, and indeed some cars derive a lot of their strength from the way the metal is folded (the way a creased sheet of paper can be strong in some directions). Rather than try to make large articulating plates, a task which needed highly skilled professionals in the Middle Ages, we might make do with Brigandine armor jacket.

Luckily for you, you can scavenge an old car lot and find a car with leather seats (or if you are stuck with the one car, peel off the vinyl roof cover), then cut small strips of steel and attach them to the jacket. This provides a flexible outer surface that will allow you to move, yet have the hard surface to deflect blows and stop (or at least minimize) stabbing attacks.

enter image description here

Brigandine armor

To save on weight, you will likely just make the Brigandine more like a vest, and trust the padding on the Gambison to protect your arms. Making protection for the arms and legs is optional, you will need to trade the extra wight and reduction in speed and mobility against the extra protection. As well, you will need to create some sort of harness of straps and buckles to keep all the extra pieces attached to you without shifting around.

This YouTube video shows the process of putting on a full harness, but pay attention to the various straps and buckles needed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k24y_ZmxRHg

And another video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGl_UXc9HIE

The Helmet, assuming you go that route, is going to be the most complex piece. You need something which is simultaneously light, form fitting, allows excellent vision and hearing, protects your eyes and ears, and has a padding and suspension system to allow air to circulate around your head, absorb blows and prevent the helmet from shifting around on your head. Maybe you should take your chances....

So you can see scavenging a car (or anything else, for that matter) isn't the real issue in creating arms and armour, rather, armour requires a great deal of work to manufacture so that you have protection that is lightweight, provides mobility and still gives protection.


As armor, it depends on what level of protection you are looking for. Against other improvised blades, it is definitely better than nothing, maybe even crudely made stabbing implements. Against a sturdy spear or a heavy blunt object, not so much (I've torn apart a '60's (I think) era Monte Carlo with nothing more than a sledge hammer.... very therapeutic.) Under a heavy blow, the steal will just peal away. The sturdier frame metal would be too difficult to form using the tools you described and would be very heavy.

As a weapon, again, the sheet metal can make an excellent edged weapon for minor work. Best for a tool. As a combat weapon, not so much, especially if the opponent is using improvised armor. The metal will just deform too easily. Others have mentioned there are plenty of other weapons that can be made from this car that is not a cutting tool. Blunt weapons would be a better option.

  • $\begingroup$ Short sword against sledge hammer is no contest, the sledge guy would be butchered. $\endgroup$ – Kilisi Jan 14 at 3:18

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