How to build dream cars with LEGO bricks

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If you're a fan of Speed Champions but wish the cars were a bit more realistic then this book is for you. It contains step-by-step instructions for building twelve dream cars, which with the help of building techniques not seen in official sets, makes them far more faithful to the original vehicles.

It's the result of a collaboration between Mattia Zamboni, who has authored or contributed to several LEGO books in the past, including Tiny LEGO Wonders and Amazing Vehicles, and George Panteleon who I understand designed the models.

Mattia has sent me a copy to review, and also some sample spreads, which you can view after the break.

The 204-page softback book is roughly A4 sized and printed on exceptionally high quality glossy paper so is surprisingly heavy. The pages have a black background so the text and graphics leap off the page as a result.

The twelve cars featured are:

  • Dodge Charger R/T '70
  • Porsche 911 Turbo
  • Corvette Stingray C3
  • Ford Mustang GT Fastback ‘67
  • Pagani Zonda Cinque
  • Lamborghini Countach
  • Ferrari F40
  • Ford GT
  • Bugatti Atlantic Type 57SC
  • Shelby Cobra 427 S/C
  • Ferrari 458 Italia
  • Datsun 240Z

The instructions are accompanied by the history and specifications of the cars and fantastic photo-realistic renders of the real vehicles.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

There are also renders of the LEGO versions which look stunning, too.

View image at flickr

The instructions themselves are well presented and clear. Printed parts list are provided but more useful ones, in XLS or BrickLink wanted list format, can be downloaded via QR codes printed in the book.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

After the instructions you'll find renders of the model in alternative colour schemes.

View image at flickr

They say the proof is in the pudding, so I thought I had better have a go at building one of the models before passing judgment on the book. I chose the Porsche 911 and, for expedience, wanted to build it from parts I already had so did so in white rather than the blue as seen above.

It's certainly an interesting build: the way it combined studless Technic and regular parts is particularly ingenious and Mattia later told me it's one of the more complex constructions in the book. Nevertheless, the instructions are clear so it was easily completed, and it looks a darn sight more like a 911 than LEGO's Speed Champions efforts.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Overall then, this is a well produced, attractive and quality book that has clearly been a labour of love for Mattia and George. Whether you fancy building the cars or just want to flick through and admire the layout, renders and graphics, I can highly recommend it.

It's currently available at Amazon.co.uk (£15) and Amazon.com ($13)

Thanks to Mattia Zamboni for sending me a copy of the book to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

25 comments on this article

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By in United States,

sold! and no fiddling with teeny tiny stickers, either

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By in United States,

Are they in scale with the cars you typically get in City sets? If so I could see people using this to add a lot of decor to their towns!

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By in Netherlands,

If others can do this, why do the LEGO models look so awful? If the sets looked like this I'd have bought all of them. With what they're looking like, I've bought none.

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By in Portugal,

Nooooooo, you let us know about the existence of this book only now, one week after Father's Day! It would be the perfect gift for my dad, who's a big Speed Champions-scale MOCer... oh well, I may get it for his birthday.

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By in Poland,

Lol. For me they are usless if they cant sit minifig.

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By in Canada,

That Porsche looks so loooooong.

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By in Australia,

i don't think the 911 is an example of a better looking car than what Lego has done. the Shelby certainly looks good as does the Ford GT.

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By in United States,

I actually liked the official version. And I prefer cars to fit people, not just heads.

Clever ideas it looks like, but I’ll likely pass.

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By in Australia,

@Supersonic. Lego set designers have to balance several things: style, kid suitability (for most sets) stability and budget. The model they design has to look cool, it usually has to be buildable by a child, be sturdy enough for play when complete, and it has to use parts available in the current range. Getting all of those things right is very hard and they only have limited time to do it because each team has to produce a bunch of sets each year. MOCs are different because people can find pieces from across the range to make a model look more accurate, they can be fragile if they are only going to be display pieces (or only handled by discerning adults), and they can cost a lot to put together.

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By in Netherlands,

@AddictedToStyrene: I can see where you're coming from but a LEGO set designer has all day/week to come up with something whereas a MOC builder usually has another full time job. It'd be quite weird if an amateur builder has more time to put something together than an official LEGO set designer.

That said, I forgot about the mini-figure thing but still, I think most Speed Champions sets look really bad and barely have anything to do with the original model. And as for it being buildable by a child; what about all the stickers? Most kids can't put them on there and once you'll take one of the sets apart your stickers are screwed meaning you can't put it back together the way it's supposed to be.

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By in United Kingdom,

these will be amazing, even without minifigs they can be great office/desk displays

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By in France,

Sold!

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By in Greece,

Great job!

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By in United States,

@Supersonic:
When they design sets, they start with price points, they have a fixed palette of parts to work with based on what's currently in production, they have a limited allotment of new elements that they have to spread out over the entire wave for that theme (most of which will probably go toward minifigs), and they have to brainstorm ideas with the group before they even start designing stuff. Everything you design at that point could be rejected, in which case you'll probably be assigned to finalize someone else's model instead of doing your own thing. You have to be able to design towards an age group. They have to be able to build it, tear it apart, and drop some abuse on it along the way. It can't just be about looks, either. Play features are paramount, so you may have to compromise the design to fit in stuff that shoots, or moving features. You'll have to coordinate with graphic designers for the minifigs and stickers, and pitch ideas for any new molds you want created.

And when all of that is said and done, you hand off the completed model to the Design Department to see if it passes muster. Most of the models that most AFOLs design would fail before they even had a chance to walk back to their departments, because we tend to be fond of using what's known as "illegal techniques", which are forbidden in Billund.

BTW, stickers are a cheat. It allows them to bypass the restriction on new elements, since decoration counts against that total. It was noted that the Chima Legend Beasts had pad printed faces, and stickers for stripes, spots, claws, and other non-facial features. The theory from this was that facial features are play-critical, so a kid could build the model and start playing with it right away, and when a parent or older sibling became available, they could apply the stickers.

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By in United Kingdom,

I love the books that help you build better models than the official Lego sets with the realistic styling needed

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By in United Kingdom,

I've bought this book, and can highly recommend it. Easy to follow instructions and plenty of cars to build.

A few could be changed to accommodate a mini-figure, if you so wished.

Non of the models require any stickers, which is great.

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By in United States,

@DoubleDeckerCouch:
Has anyone ever published instructions for a MOC that did require stickers? I suppose it would be possible, but severely limiting if you wanted to build multiple copies of something.

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By in United States,

Just got the book and can't wait to build that Countach on the cover. Too bad the designers didn't (or couldn't?) add the LEGO part #s to the parts lists! Anyone know the part# for the 3 sided angle brick used for the windshield on the Countach and the Ford GT?

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By in United States,

@MataNui2009, yes, it looks like they are 6 studs wide, which is the lego city and speed champions standard.

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By in United States,

Thanks @Purple Dave! Hopefully TLG will be inspired to make a trans clear version someday!

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By in Netherlands,

These look amazing! Can you still fit minifigs inside them though? I notice some have black bricks for windows

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