DO you remember those brilliant summer days as a kid making a kart out of wood, old pram wheels and rope.

The big news is that those days are back with real cars.

Well, not the old pram wheels and rope.

But car designers are now turning to wood in a bid to make cars lighter, stronger and cheaper.

A material made from wood pulp is FIVE times stronger than steel but weighs 80 per cent less, according to researchers in Japan.

And a leading supplier to Toyota is working alongside the tech boffins at Kyoto University to experiment with plastics that feature wood pulp.

A prototype version of a car using these revolutionary cellulose nanofibres is due to be completed by 2020.

The processing method developed is much cheaper than other similar projects potentially making the material commercially viable in the not to distant future.

It’s currently around four times more expensive than steel and other alloys used but experts believe the price gap could be halved by 2030.

Kyoto University Professor Hiroyuki Yano

Kyoto University Professor Hiroyuki Yano

Slashing weight is vital for electric cars with fewer batteries required to power lighter motors.

It would make battery-powered cars cheaper – and give them a bigger range between charges.

Masanori Matsushiro, a project manager overseeing body design at Toyota, said: “Lightweighting is a constant issue for us.

“But we also have to resolve the issue of high manufacturing costs before we see an increased use of new, lighter-weight materials in mass-volume cars.”

Wood pulp isn’t the only steel replacement being worked on by experts.

BMW has introduced a carbon fibre body shell in its i3 while high-strength aluminium alloys are used on top-end motors.

And some have gone a step further with Dutch students making a car from the resin extracted from sugar.

What next? Car firms using bamboo?

Oh yes, Ford are doing that.

So we could one day be driving a motor made out of wood, sugar and bamboo.

Still better than an old Lada.