Review: 42098 Car Transporter

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View image at flickr

42098 Car Transporter doesn't seem particularly exciting on initial inspection but it's a set that, once I'd built, admired, and operated it, exceeded my expectations by some margin. It's also tremendous value for money, even at full retail price, which is not something that can often be said for a LEGO set.

However, it's not without its faults. There's one particular aspect which mars the overall aesthetic, but luckily it's easily fixed with a few extra parts. I'll show you how after the break.


Box and contents

The box is large and heavy, more so than you'd expect for a set of this size. This is partly down to the weight of the 550 page, 2cm thick instruction manual, but also to its 2498 pieces which thus makes it the 8th largest Technic set yet released, in terms of number of parts.

Parts are packaged in numbered bags, 1-3, corresponding to the three sub-models: the car, the front section of the transporter, and the trailer. Half are numbered 2 so you'll still be dealing with a lot of pieces during much of the build.

As we've come to expect for recent Technic sets, there's also an extensive sticker sheet.

For information about new and noteworthy parts, please refer to New Elementary's article.


The car

In many ways the car similar to 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 which was released earlier in the year; the chassis and engine are built using the same techniques and mechanisms, and it's roughly the same size.

For example, in the engine a crankshaft pushes up the 'cylinders' (3l axles with yellow bush) in sequence as it's rotated.

View image at flickr

The rear wheels are connected to the crankshaft and steering is neatly routed to the back of the car to be operated by a gear at the rear.

View image at flickr

Its dark azure bodywork looks excellent. A matching roof would have been nice, although I guess it could be depicting a convertible with a black cloth roof.

View image at flickr

It looks sleek and expensive...

View image at flickr

The gear at the back.operates the steering. I'm not sure that I like gears being used on the controls but I guess it does up the number included in the set, and they are more useful than, say, wheels.

View image at flickr

The alignment of the print on the stickers on the engine is not particularly good: the V8 markings do not line up.

View image at flickr

So, it's an excellent model that would be appealing as a set in its own right.


The front section of the transporter

This vehicle probably accounts for 2/3rds of the parts in the set and certainly accounts for the lion's share of the time taken to build the model.

It has a moving cylinder engine much like that in the car, which is connected to the first rear axle via a differential.

View image at flickr

The rack and pinion mechanism at the back facilitates the raising and lowering of the upper car deck. Other than that, there's not a great deal of complexity in the model so it's not a difficult build but it is quite time consuming.

View image at flickr

The left seat is upside down in this picture. I'd like to say that I corrected it later in the build, but I've only just noticed. Duh!

View image at flickr

The cab's bodywork is made with red and grey panels, so without the stickers, which help tie the two together, it would not look particularly attractive.

View image at flickr

The lower and upper car decks are added in turn to complete the model.

View image at flickr

The railings on the upper deck are constructed using eight Flex Tube, 21 Module, W/ 3.2 Hole (6210590). More on those later...

View image at flickr

I think it looks great from all angles and, like the car, could make for a very decent stand-alone set.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Here's how the cab is tilted forwards to access the engine, using the lever just behind the front wheel. The top car deck moves out of the way, which is presumably what needs to happen on the real vehicles. It's very well implemented.

I'll take a look at how the car deck moves in a minute.

View image at flickr


Trailer

The chassis of the trailer is similar to the front part of the transporter, and features the same rack and pinion mechanism.

View image at flickr

It also has a few other tricks up its sleeve, such as the rear ramp,

View image at flickr

and another at the front to allow vehicles to drive onto the front section of transporter.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

Altogether the set took a surprisingly long time to build: I think I must have spent at least 8 hours on it. It wasn't particularly complicated and there are no complex mechanisms to catch you out and which need careful attention; there's just a lot of pieces that need to be connected together!


The completed model

At around 85 cm long and, with the car on top, 25cm high, it's way bigger than I anticipated. It only just fits on my photography table.

The red and white of the transporter contrasts well with the blue of the car: it's an attractive combination.

I'm no expert on car transporters but it looks pretty realistic to me and I particularly appreciate that it's based on a European prototype rather than a long-nosed American eyesore (although your opinion may vary!)

View image at flickr


Operation

It's possible to raise and lower ramps and decks to drive up to five cars onto it. All the controls required to do so are situated at the side of the front of the car decks: the black gear wheels.

Before anything can be loaded onto it, the rear ramp needs to be lowered. It's hinged in the middle so extends to roughly double the height of the vehicle, which thus provides a nice shallow slope.

View image at flickr

The rear of the top deck of the trailer is lowered via the rack and pinion mechanism in the chassis. It's a bit of a steep slope: I would not like to drive a new car up it, and stop it once at the top!

View image at flickr

A platform to bridge the gap to the front section of the transporter is lowered to access the space for three cars on it.

View image at flickr

The upper deck is lowered in the same way as on the trailer. It's not possible to fit two cars the length of the one included on the top deck: to fit one at the front half it would need to be about 6 studs shorter.

View image at flickr

View image at flickr

The yellow right-angled pieces mate with a corresponding hole at the front of the car which hooks in place, and keeps it there when the ramp is lowered.

View image at flickr

There's a lever on the other side of the vehicle that tilts it slightly to release the car for unloading.

View image at flickr

The controls work flawlessly, although some do require quite a lot of twisting, and with the car sitting on a lowered ramp, it takes some effort to raise it.


Improving the railings

So far, so very good. But there's one aspect that I really don't like and which spoils the overall aesthetic of the model: the railings on the top.

You can see straight away what the problem is: It's a chore getting them horizontal, all six spaced the same, and they do not remain taut, which results in them looking like they are bowed. This is partly because the black bars are not held securely enough -- the blue half pin wobbles in the hole -- so there's some movement side-to-side, so they are not necessarily the exact same distance apart at the top as they are at the bottom.

View image at flickr

The solution is simple and I really don't know why this pure Technic solution was not implemented to start with.

View image at flickr

I had some 21l grey flex tube laying around, probably from an old LUGBulk order, which is just about the same length as the piece I've replaced.

The stanchions don't wobble, the vertical gap between railings is fixed, and the flex tube doesn't, er, flex, which results in a much tidier and Technic-like appearance.

Ideally I'd have used slightly longer ones for the back of the deck and that on the trailer but I didn't have any.

View image at flickr

I think you'll agree that it's a significant improvement.

View image at flickr


Verdict

I thought this would be a dull and boring set but I was mistaken. It looks very impressive, the controls are manifold and work well, and -- I haven't mentioned this yet -- it's a fantastic parts pack for Technic builders.

Of course many of the 2500 parts are pins (over 900, in fact) but there are also an awful lot of beams -- around 220, including 88 length 15s -- and panels (about 60). And, best of all, not many are black. I'm sure you, like me, have too many black Technic parts already. This will definitely be a set I buy multiples of for parts when it's been reduced.

However, as I said at the start, it seems surprisingly good value even at RRP (€149.99/£139.99/ US$179.99), particularly given that the similarly sized car 42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 retails for £40, which is just under 30% of the total cost of this set.

Notwithstanding the issue with the railings on the top, this is an excellent model for many reasons, and one that I highly recommend.

View image at flickr

42093 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 is designed to be used with this set, so apologies for not photographing it with it on. CapnRex101 reviewed it earlier in the year and I don't have one.


Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

36 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Great review. It would nice to see something like this in the Speed Champions scale. All those SC cars I have collected would look cool on a big transporter...

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By in United States,

^you could make it but I understand that it is harder than it looks.

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By in Germany,

I was really looking forward to this set. The railing is really a bit off-putting, as is the fact that you cannot load two cars on the top part of the truck. Also - stickers.

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By in Malaysia,

My dad drove car transporters for a living, so this appeals to me, although the sheer size of it is slightly offputting for a change. I suspect that railings on the real thing are fairly flexible and not rigid, so in that regard it may actually be accurate.

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By in United Kingdom,

I did wonder that but if they were, say, chains, they'd sag in the middle rather than randomly.

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By in Belgium,

The railings move about quite a bit on real car transporters so the way it was designed may be intentional.

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By in Germany,

*shakes head* so many ugly brown axels, but the build and model looks nice

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By in United Kingdom,

Great review. brilliant solution and good value

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By in United States,

Any idea what the price is? I have the Technic car transporter from the 90s I think and absolutely love it. Looking forward to this one as well!

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By in United States,

^New Elementary shows it at €149.99/ £139.99/ US$179.99.

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By in United Kingdom,

Looks rather fine! Do we know how it compares in scale to last year's Mack Anthem?

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By in Switzerland,

Thanks for this great review.

What I don’t like is the very steep slope to load the cars onto the upper deck; as Huw also has mentioned.
In my opinion it is a missed opportunity that they did not design it in a way that the upper deck of the truck would connect to the trailer’s upper deck, which then could be lowered together. This would allow for a much shallower slope. As far as I know, this would also be closer to the real-world car transporters.

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By in Netherlands,

I have to be honest and say I prefer how the original railings look, wobbliness and all. They just feel more realistic, and the thinness of them contrasts nicely with the rest of the model.

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By in Canada,

Sets like these instil confidence that Lego has not completely lost its touch (eg. After what happened with the treehouse set).

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By in Latvia,

Your solution is great! I really wonder why didn't they do it like that? Maybe they really wanted to use the silver flex string?

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By in Germany,

I would like to have seen a picture that shows the combination with 42093 or even 10265.

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By in United States,

Fantastic review. I like your railing solution as well. I feel like they need to make at least one more car in that scale now for the sake of the biggest Technic fans.

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By in United Kingdom,

@BrickWeed, thank you. It was remiss of me not to add the RRP to the review, which I've now done.

@theJANG, agreed. A couple more to fill it would be very cool.

@Crazy-Chris, me too but I don't have either of them.

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By in Malaysia,

The other thing that's not really right about it is the length - I believe the type of car transporter depicted is known as a 'road train' because the cab is connected directly to a section of the transporter, with a 'trailer' behind.

Whilst the cab section is realistic, the trailer part is about half the length it should be - see here for example: https://www.alptransport.co.uk/wpimages/wp76d06803_06.png or https://www.quinnscartransport.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/3.jpg

Obviously if they'd made it that long it would be even bigger and more expensive though!

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By in France,

one downside is while they are many functions, many are repeated, like 2x steering, 2x motors and 2x lowering the top deck.

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By in United States,

I'd also like to see a car transporter released for the Speed Champions line in a non-Technic form. Less stickers would also be nice.

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By in United Kingdom,

@yacoub

Like set 60060 in the Great Vehicles series from 2014?

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By in United States,

@LutherCPA would that fit Speed Champions cars on it comfortably?

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By in United States,

@yacoub nah it's either not wide enough or not long enough, as it was designed for the standard City car at the time

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By in United States,

@Paperballpark, @BeaR the Builder--Surely things like that can be corrected after a visit to Bricklink or Bricks & Pieces? :-)

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By in United States,

Awesome review, Huw!

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By in Germany,

From pictures the truck looks unfinished behind the rear wheels. Also the trailer looks rather "open".
What is the impression with the real model?

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By in New Zealand,

This is certainly a Beautiful Model.

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By in Netherlands,

There is a video on YouTube that shows that the Creator cars also fit in this car transporter

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By in United States,

To me it looks more like a cheap plastic toy rather than a realistic car transporter. Maybe its being based on a European prototype eyesore is the reason why.

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By in Germany,

@ALFIE22 - very interesting, thank you. So it seems it is pretty close to the prototype which looks like it can hold only very short cars in the front part, too.

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By in Germany,

I really like this set. It perfectly captures the essence of what actual car transporters look like around here, it contains a cool car just for the heck of it, and above all it is very reasonably priced.
As for the railing solution, I must admit I much prefer the official version to the one mentioned in the review. Sorry Huw, it is indeed an ingenious solution, but comparing the look with how bent and wobbly those railings often look in real life I think LEGO captured that look very well. Probably not intentionally though ;-)

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By in United States,

"...I particularly appreciate that it's based on a European prototype rather than a long-nosed American eyesore (although your opinion may vary!)"

You may say eyesore, but it has better aerodynamic qualities than the European "brick". The American version is generally easier to work on, but I will admit the European tractor has the superior turning radius.

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By in Netherlands,

I have a problem with the trailer the ramps wont lower it looks like it blocking in the gray railings what can i do to fix the ramps so they go down normaly

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