Carros de Pau or Wooden Cars on Madeira

Carros de Pau or Wooden Cars on Madeira

Carros de Pau on Madeira

Carros de Pau are cars made of wood by hand and without mechanical equipment.  These are very traditional in Portugal in general but even more so on the Island of Madeira.  There was a time when these “wooden cars” were an occupation for the younger generations, especially before all things electronic.  This hobby and sport were en vogue until the late 80ies.

Made by hand and ingeniosity

Youngsters would design, build, and improve their wooden cars to win races.  All its construction is manual, using several techniques that focus on the development of a braking and steering system.   For example, they usually use a steel cable for the brakes, connecting a pedal in front of the car to a metal or wooden plate. at the rear of the wheels.  As for the steering system, a steering rope connects a steering wheel to the ends of the front axle.

Regional Championship

Nowadays, various organizations promote events regularly to keep this hobby alive.  Hence, there is even a Regional Wooden Car Championship – Campeonato Regional de Carros de Pau.  It is a competition taking place in many Madeiran municipalities.  The time of each descent belonging to the championship is noted for each participant.  These races take place throughout the year around the island.  It is no longer a sport solely for young adults.  All ages compete against one another. 


There is one this Sunday for example in Agua da Pena. It starts at the Capela dos Cardais and arrives at the Igrja de Agua de Pena.  The route is 3.7 kilometers long.  It is a fun event where friends and family gather to support their candidate.  You can find more information about the various runs on this site.

Furthermore, there are various categories in which one can compete are:  (1) Futurista; (2) Réplica; (3) 4 Rodas Duplas; (4) 4 Rodas Individual; (5) 3 Rodas; and (6) Drift Trikes.

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