Lego’s Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron

Life-size 1.5-tonne Ch­i­ron made from a mil­lion Tech­nic bricks is an ode to Dan­ish in­ge­nu­ity

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - VI­JAY PATTNI

“There was a lot of si­lence,” ex­plains Lego’s se­nior art di­rec­tor Al­lan Jensen. “It was quite funny, I’ve never seen them like that.” No sur­prise, re­ally, con­sid­er­ing the brick-shaped gaunt­let thrown into the Lego Tech­nic engi­neers’ brief­ing room back in June 2017: build a Lego Bu­gatti Ch­i­ron. A full-size Lego Ch­i­ron. And make it move.

It was only af­ter project man­ager Lukás Horák and his team stopped laugh­ing they re­alised this was no joke. Then si­lence. “These projects al­ways start with laugh­ing, and then the prob­lems come.”

So here we are: just over a year of prob­lems, 13,500 man hours and more than one mil­lion Tech­nic bricks later, we’re star­ing at the most as­ton­ish­ing Lego project ever cre­ated. A full-size, 1.5-tonne ode to Bu­gatti’s mind-bend­ing Ch­i­ron.

Though, of course, the Lego wasn’t al­lowed to bend. “We first started out ex­plor­ing the lim­its of Lego Tech­nic,” ex­plains de­sign and build chief Lu­bor Zelinka. “The model builders spent a lot of time build­ing var­i­ous sam­ples and then sit­ting on them. Maybe not the most sci­en­tific ap­proach but it worked for us at the be­gin­ning,” he laughs.

These lay­ers of Tech­nic frames were then in­ter­locked with pins and beams to cre­ate a frame, and wrapped in Tech­nic pan­els for stur­di­ness. This was laid over a steel frame; one of three ‘parts’ that aren’t Lego (the others be­ing the Ch­i­ron wheels and a steel roll cage).

Then we come to the skin. They in­vented a Lego ‘fab­ric’, made of small tri­an­gu­lar el­e­ments at­tached to the frame via ac­tu­a­tors. Move the ac­tu­a­tor up or down, the tri­an­gle ‘fab­ric’ moves, al­low­ing the engi­neers to recre­ate the Ch­i­ron’s shape. Which they did purely from pic­tures of the big Bug. And with­out us­ing glue. Nada.

Pavel Volny, the elec­tron­ics mae­stro, was given the task of mak­ing it move. “It wasn’t easy,” he smirks. In­side sit 24 mo­tor packs, with 96 Lego Power Func­tions mo­tors per pack. That’s… 2,304 mo­tors in to­tal, and each mo­tor pack is made en­tirely out of Lego bits. Pre­pare your­self: this equates to 5.2bhp and 68lb ft.

These are then con­nected by a steel chain to the main driv­ing shaft, it­self then con­nected to the rear axle. Yep, it’s a rear-drive Ch­i­ron. Top speed? The­o­ret­i­cally, 18mph. There’s no throt­tle pedal: a pair of bat­ter­ies pow­ers the mo­tors, and you move for­ward via a po­ten­tiome­ter that de­ter­mines the volt­age lev­els. Brakes? There’s a pedal for those; when you hit it, the elec­tro­mag­netic clutches on the rear axle dis­con­nect. There’s even a fully func­tional rear spoiler.

“Lego is full of petrol­heads,” Lukás told us. “As fans of cars, we were re­ally amazed that we were even able to do a Bu­gatti. It’s a dream come true.”

Yep. No­body’s laugh­ing now.

Fair to say Lego was brick­ing it when this brief droppe dropped onto its desk

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