:Xander Backus, 11, looks for leaks in the cooling system as his father Sterling Backus fills a radiator with water before starting their supercar at their home in Erie on Aug. 28, 2019. Parts of the car are being built on a 3D printer. (Photo by Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

Inside an Erie garage, Sterling and Xander Backus stood over a Lamborghini, but not just an ordinary supercar.

The father-son team built the car from scratch using 3D-printed panels and used car parts.

“One day we were playing this game we like to play, and one day we jumped into a Lamborghini (in the game) and it looked pretty fun,” said Xander, 11. “One day I asked my dad, ‘Hey, could we build one of those?’”

That was a year and a half ago.

On Tuesday, they were attempting to start the car. Recently, they took off the panels to work on the mechanics.

“We had a ’69 Mustang, which was our previous project, that was a four-year project,” Backus said. “When he brought up (building the car), I always wanted a supercar.”

He said the added bonus was not having to spend Lamborghini-style money on the vehicle.

Xander Backus, 11, and as his father Sterling Backus install an instrument panel before starting their supercar at their home in Erie on Aug. 28, 2019. Parts of the car are being built on a 3D printer.(Photo by Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer)

“It’s a $600,000 car. I’ve always wanted to attempt a from-scratch build, that’s something I’ve never done before” Backus said. “As a kid, I was into auto mechanics. This was kind of an experiment.”

So far, the pair has spent $18,000 of a $20,000 budget.

Backus said there has been a lot of failures during the process.

“Things have not worked they want we want them to,” Backus said. “We’re hoping we’re going to get past all those failures and have some successes.”

He said when they get into a rut, they usually head inside.

“I think it’s mostly, you just keep working ahead. If you have to change direction. If you get too discouraged you go inside,” Backus said. “The project will be here when we get back.”

By day, Backus is a physicist who creates and designs lasers for universities and government agencies. Xander is a sixth grader at Flagstaff Charter School and plays guitar and takes on extracurricular activities.

Backus said the panels on the vehicle take about a week to print.

“It’s a desktop 3D printer, a lot of people will come by and ask where the industrial printer is,” Backus said.

He said they have about 220 kilograms, which is about 480 pounds, of filament.

“It’s cheap and good for the environment because it’s biodegradable,” Xander said.

Backus said they put the panel pieces together, sand them, put the carbon fiber fabric over them and put them in a vacuum bag.

As for the rest of the vehicle, they have purchased parts off of other cars, calling it a sort-of “Frankenstein” creation.

“Most of the parts on the build that we didn’t make ourselves, like the frame, we got from a junkyard,” Backus said. “The engine is from a Corvette, the transaxle is from a 911 Porsche, the radiator is from a Honda Civic. We wanted it to at least look the part.”

The project has become a bonding time for Backus and his three kids.

“Having my kids help me with it has been really nice part,” Backus said. “We’ve been able to engage all of them with it — even my teenage daughter.”

The end goal with the vehicle is to be able to bring it to schools and teach kids about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).

Backus said they have some schools in mind and hope to reach as many schools as possible.

“What better way than to start a conversation with a supercar,” Backus said.

For updates on the car, Backus has created a Youtube page.

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