Lego is the kind of toy that excites kids and grownups alike, including gearheads. Last summer Lego unveiled its newest entry into the supercar arena with the Bugatti Chiron at the Grand Prix Formula 1 event in Monza, Italy. This time they wanted to make a point that not only can they build toys and models but a true 1:1 copy of the magnificent Bugatti Chiron built from LEGO Technic parts. “And if that wasn’t enough, we also wanted our car – for the first time ever – to actually drive and be powered by the same Power Functions motor technology we use in our standard models.” (As stated on the Lego website.)
That’s right folks, a real car made of Lego powered by Lego engines.
Let’s break down the Lego Bugatti and compare it to the previous Supercar master build by Lego, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. The Lego design team has shown their love for cars in many of their Technic lines dating back to 1977 with their introduction of the first “Super Car” set called the 853 Car Chassis. This one is the pinnacle for many avid Technic car collectors as it featured the first engine made of Lego blocks. The five colors (red blue yellow grey and black) are the same ones still used today.
Lead Designer Aurelien Rouffiange and his team raced from completing the 1:8 scale Lego car to begin the massive task of building the full-scale Bugatti. Here are the facts:
- Over 1-million LEGO Technic pieces
- 339 types of LEGO Technic pieces
- No glue
- 3,306 lbs. total weight
- 2,304 LEGO Power Functions motor pieces
- 4,032 LEGO Technic gear wheel pieces
- 2,016 LEGO Technic cross axle pieces
- Theoretical performance of 5.3 hp
- An estimated torque of 92 Nm or 5.2 bhp, and 68 lb. ft. of torque
- Functional rear spoiler (using both LEGO Power Functions and pneumatics)
- Functional speedometer built entirely from LEGO Technics
- Speed: a little over 12 mh
- 13,438 man hours to develop and build
Lena Dixen, Senior Vice President of Product and Marketing at the LEGO Group said:
“This life-size model is a first of its kind in so many ways and with it, we wanted to push the boundaries of our own imagination. For over 40 years, LEGO Technic has allowed fans of all ages to test their creativity with a building system that challenges them to go beyond just creating new designs, to also engineering new functions. Our Technic designers and the engineers from the Kladno factory in the Czech Republic, the place which also builds the impressive models for LEGO Stores and LEGOLAND parks, have done an amazing job both at recreating the Chiron’s iconic shapes and making it possible to drive this model. It’s a fascinating example of the LEGO Technic building system in action and its potential for creative reinvention.”
The actual Bugatti Chiron is a masterpiece. It all started with Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S., established in 1909. The French luxury brand has its headquarters at Molsheim, Alsace. This is where 450 Veyrons were produced 2005-2015 and where the new Chiron, which is limited to 500 cars, is being hand-crafted today. The estimated cost of the $3 million supercar is no small feat due to the labor and intense hand-built nature of the car.
Side by side, the Lego Bugatti and the real one share a striking resemblance. The Lego one features a skin made of pieces including a shapely hexagon pattern. Lego describes this technique as a type of fabric that was designed to replicate the shapes of the original car. This gives the exterior a semitransparent viewing of the car, like many of the Lego 1:8 scale sets before it. Both comparably weigh the same even though using different materials. Every part of the car, except its wheels, is made of Lego products. It’s an amazing feat for any enthusiast of both the car and the iconic building block.
This isn’t the first time Lego has worked on making models from major Auto manufacturer’s designs. The earliest that shares an auto brand name is the Mercedes-Benz Unimog release August 1, 2011. While not a very sporty vehicle, the ATV contains a crane and wench arm which is a feature no budding machinist or engineer should pass up.
More recently Lego teamed up with Porsche to recreate the 911 GT3 RS. Like the Bugatti, Lego tried to recreate the build process of the actual car, but kept the experience a well branded and sensory-laden affair with art blasting from each part of the packaging. Building this set feels like looking through a dealer’s brochure. The Porsche instruction book is 600 pages long, with the feel of a coffee table art book. The Bugatti comes with two books of 300 pages each.
Many upgrades were made in the design and function of the two Lego car models. While neither will reach the actual performance a true 1:8 scale counterpart, both have working transmissions and gear selection and shifters. The Bugatti also has many new pieces that have been specifically made for the gearbox and transmission.
It’s impressive the lengths people take to make something they love. With time and commitment, the people at Lego have made sets that evoke the feeling we get when we look at great cars. On all fronts the Bugatti Chiron is a masterwork as both a 1:8 scale model and a life size vehicle.