Lego’s Bugatti Chiron
Life-size 1.5-tonne Chiron made from a million Technic bricks is an ode to Danish ingenuity
“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