Automotive Technology Evolution of LEGO (1977-2022)

Automotive Technology Evolution of LEGO (1977-2022)

Automotive Technology Evolution of LEGO (1977-2022)

There has recently been a lot of discussion comparing today’s complex LEGO Technic sets to the skeletal and simpler ones they used to be. The first of the so-called Supercars was launched in 1977 and since then every car in the series has brought something new. In 1994 LEGO included most of the reasonably possible automotive technology. Note that all 5 basic components of the car are already present from the second set in the list below. (Engine, Steering Wheel, Suspension, Differential and Gearbox).


LEGO Car Chassis set 853 (1977)

LEGO Car Chassis 853 (1977)

LEGO Car Frame set 8860 (1980)

LEGO Car Frame 8860 (1980)

LEGO Technic Test Car set 8865 (1988)

LEGO Technic Test Car 8865 (1988)

LEGO Technic Super Auto set 8880 (1994)

LEGO Technic Super Auto 8880 (1994)

LEGO Technic Auto Super Street Sensation set 8448 (1999)

LEGO Technic Auto Super Street Sensation 8448 (1999)

The last two sets are considered by many to be the pinnacle of the Supercar line of those years. From a technical point of view, the 1994 LEGO Technic Super Auto set 8880 model is the clear winner thanks to the presence of all-wheel drive. However, if we want to use LEGOs to explain car technology, the LEGO Technic Super Auto set 8880 model is an excess, while the 1999 LEGO Technic Auto Super Street Sensation set 8448 model offers the same components but in a much more transparent way. In addition, the gearbox also features reverse. True, it doesn’t have steering, but that’s not a big deal. Add in a much improved aesthetic and it will come as no surprise that for many the LEGO Technic Auto Super Street Sensation set 8448 is the Queen.

What is actually a Supercar? These sets share the same three traits:

  • Each set introduces something new;
  • Each set is at the forefront of LEGO engineering;
  • Each set showcases the key components of automotive technology.

Basically LEGO has been at the forefront of showing (us) children how cars work for about 20 years.


LEGO Tractor set 8859 (1981)

LEGO Tractor 8859 (1981)

LEGO Technic Rally Support Truck set 8850 (1990)

LEGO Technic 8850 Rally Support Truck (1990)

LEGO Technic Truck with Claw and Air System set 8868 (1992)

LEGO Technic Truck with Claw and Air System 8868 (1992)

LEGO Technic F1 Race Car Silver Champion set 8458-1 (1994/2000)

LEGO Technic F1 Race Car Silver Champion 8458 (1994/2000)

LEGO Technic F1 Race Car set 8440 (1995)

LEGO Technic F1 Race Car 8440 (1995)

LEGO Technic Dune Buggy Desert Ranger set 8408 (1996)

LEGO Technic Dune Buggy Desert Ranger 8408 (1996)

LEGO Technic Future Car set 8437 (1997)

LEGO Technic Future Car 8437 (1997)

LEGO Technic 4×4 Off-Road Vehicle set 8466 (2001)

LEGO Technic 4x4 Off-Road Vehicle 8466 (2001)

So back in 1999, the LEGO Technic Super Auto set 8880 set filled and emptied store shelves in an instant and the LEGO automotive line stands at a crossroads. LEGO tries 2 big shots. Releases a Formula 1 car that has reduced the technological components of cars and recycles the Super Street Sensation set 8448 set into a more captivating package. The LEGO Technic F1 Silver Champion Race Car set 8458 is the first of many “Formula 1” style cars.

The F1 car looked like a success, so in the following years we had many more that were, at least from a chassis point of view, pretty much the same. The 4×4 Off-road vehicle was a different story, and unfortunately many fans were not proud of it, some because of the aesthetics but many because of the inferior functionality compared to previous car models. However, the 2001 LEGO Technic Off-Road 4×4 set 8466 set proves to be the latest LEGO Technic set including the entire quintet of components. (Engine, Steering Wheel, Suspension, Differential and Gearbox).

By this point, most likely, even the LEGO designers and executives have wondered how to evolve their line of Supercars, and they could have recycled the chassis of the 1994 LEGO Technic Super Auto set 8880, but that’s not how LEGO works. From here they were able to shift their point of view and their goals regarding the automotive sector.

The new LEGO Supercar line will therefore follow these simple two guidelines:

  • Each set will be at the forefront of LEGO engineering;
  • Each set will have the WOW factor.

One of the consequences of this decision was the division of fans, who don’t always agree on which sets released since 1999 actually belong to the Supercar range. Below are the sets that appear to be considered supercars, as well as a few other sets that feature a significant number of car tech components. There are some with the “basic triad” (Steering Wheel, Engine, Differential). Current high-end cars such as Porsche, Bugatti and Land Rover were excluded. They feature “the entire quintet” (Engine, Steering Wheel, Suspension, Differential and Gearbox), but all of their technology is carefully hidden from view, and above all their transmission systems are too complicated to serve any educational purpose.


LEGO Technic F1 Williams Team Racing set 8461 (2002)

LEGO Technic F1 Williams Team Racing 8461 (2002)

LEGO Technic Fire Rescue Truck set 8454 (2003)

LEGO Technic 8454 Fire Rescue Truck (2003)

LEGO Technic Ferrari F1 1:10 scale set 8386 (2004)

LEGO Technic Ferrari F1 1:10 scale 8386 (2004)

LEGO Technic Ferrari Enzo Ferrari 1:10 scale set 8653 (2005)

LEGO Technic Ferrari Enzo Ferrari 1:10 scale 8653 (2005)

LEGO Technic Ferrari F1 1: 8 scale set 8674 (2006)

LEGO Technic Ferrari F1 1: 8 scale 8674 (2006)

LEGO Technic Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano scale 1:10 set 8145 (2007)

LEGO Technic Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano scale 1:10 8145 (2007)

LEGO Technic Electric Super Car set 8070 (2011)

LEGO Technic Electric Super Car 8070 (2011)

LEGO Technic F1 Grand Prix set 42000 (2013)

LEGO Technic F1 Grand Prix 42000 (2013)

LEGO Technic Race Car 24 Hours Le Mans set 42039 (2015)

LEGO Technic Race Car 24 Hours Le Mans 42039 (2015)

LEGO Technic Dune Buggy Off-Road Vehicle set 42037 (2015)

LEGO Technic Dune Buggy Off-Road Vehicle 42037 (2015)

LEGO Technic Go Kart Race set 42048 (2016)

LEGO Technic Go Kart Race 42048 (2016)

LEGO Technic First Aid Fire Brigade Car set 42075 (2018)

LEGO Technic 42075 First Aid Fire Brigade Car (2018)

LEGO Technic Rally Car set 42077 (2018)

LEGO Technic Rally Car 42077 (2018)

LEGO Technic Porsche 911 RSR set 42096 (2019)

LEGO Technic Porsche 911 RSR 42096 (2019)

LEGO Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 set 42115 (2020)

LEGO Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 42115 (2020)

LEGO Technic Ford F-150 Raptor set 42126 (2021)

LEGO Technic Ford F-150 Raptor 42126 (2021)

LEGO Technic Batmobile di Batman set 42127 (2022)

LEGO Technic Batmobile di Batman 42127 (2022)

What do the images above tell us? That since 2001 there hasn’t been a single set that could be used to showcase all the important components of the car, LEGO during this time significantly improved all the crucial parts (clutch gears and guide rings) and also introduced more robust versions of some 8 and 16 tooth gears. The reasons why LEGO took a different path in 2001, however, also leave another hypothesis open…

LEGO could simply offer a simpler car that showcases the technology but it would not be considered part of the Premium line. The feeling is that LEGO reacts to the general trend observable in the younger generations who, on average, are less interested in the physical, mechanical world, preferring the virtual world of computers and virtual reality. In fact LEGO now serves these guys well with the Mindstorms line. It would be great if LEGO tried to rekindle interest in mechanical engineering in cars


or maybe it has already done so!?


LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron 1:1 Life Size Working


LEGO Technic Lamborghini Sián FKP 37 1:1 Life Size Working


LEGO

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