Car enthusiasm is an expensive and exhausting life hobby, sometimes to the point that it’s ruinous. There are often nights that drag, when I’m covered in filth under my Volkswagen GTI removing the gearbox or rebuilding my front suspension again, and I’m left considering a different outlet for my engineering appreciation. According to my Youtube inbox, Lego Technic is making a strong argument for an alternative.
I have been aware of Lego Technic’s series of buildable replicas of real cars like a Bugatti Chiron or a Porsche 911, but Technic can go even further than recreations. This subset of Lego doesn’t just do intricate mechanical replicas, it also has a deep universe of individually sold blocks, axles, hinges, gears, electric motors, and more that make everything possible. The aftermarket goes even deeper and makes metal parts and spares for the discerning Technic enthusiast.
Modifying cars takes a decent level of commitment even with basic hand tools. Modifying them in a way that experiments with engineering while teaching and instructing to an audience takes even more commitment, and totally fabricating parts takes a professional workshop.
On the other hand, Legos only require hands and maybe a home power plug. Re-engineering the suspension on my GTI would be a considerable task, but engineering a fresh suspension concept on Legos would take a couple of hours at most.
That’s the beauty of what I’m seeing with the Legos — engineering blown up to the macro level. It’s almost like making fonts bigger for accessibility. Not everyone can understand what’s going on with a car, but a lot more folks can learn it practically with Legos. People like Brick Technology and Brick Experiment Channel on Youtube have recreated real engineering like the McPherson strut suspension concept or a six-speed manual gearbox.
No doubt, it’s for the ultra-nerds among us. It has an endearing blend of simplicity and intricacy that fulfills a magic formula of instructive value and endless possibility. It’s a real-life engineering sandbox.
Unfortunately, it does not seem cheap to dip into. Most Lego Technic car kits start around $100 and can range up to $500 for the most brick-laden builds. Gathering the behemoth libraries of Lego bricks that these Youtubers clearly possess would take a long period of trial and error, which is just like real engineering. Build, break, rebuild, repeat.
I seriously cannot help but go berserk when I see that disembodied hand shifting a Lego gearbox. C’mon people, how is that not intensely cool? Learning about gears and ratios to achieve some sort of distant optimum for the sake of the challenge. Arranging gearboxes and finding out that it sort of works the same way as the real thing – all of this is somehow possible with Lego bricks. Even building engines. Engines!
So, yes, I’m going to go spend an exorbitant amount of money on some kid’s bricks. I’ll report back soon, likely in a dazed frenzy after building my 46th iteration of a 16-speed semi-truck gearbox. See you soon.
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