(CBS Local) – Building Lego’s scale Bugatti Chiron model will likely take you some time, but its long build time pales in comparison to how long it took Lego to build a fully functioning, full-size Bugatti Chiron.
Yes, you read that correctly, and your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a 1:1-scale Bugatti Chiron built from Lego’s standard pieces with a few special bits in there to ensure functionality. Lego’s team took over 13,000 work hours to put the car’s 1-million-plus pieces into place, and the result is a car that actually drove under its own power. Imagine the price tag on that one.
In total, the full-size Lego Chiron relies on 339 different kinds of Lego pieces, connected entirely by traditional Lego methods, meaning no glue was used. Some pieces are custom, only because Lego didn’t produce the right kinds of pieces in the right colors for this project.
Lego started with a steel frame, which it deemed necessary based on the estimated final weight of the product. The steel frame connects to axles and parts that help affix Bugatti’s wheels to the real Chiron. The brake system is borrowed from a go-kart, and the power steering system comes from an all-terrain vehicle, both of which are also attached to the frame. There’s also a steel roll cage for added safety, and the chassis has four real lift points that can be used to put the car in the air. There’s no suspension system because of space and complexity constraints.
On top of that frame, Lego used a variety of Technic frame pieces to create an inner structure that could support all the exterior body panels.
After laying out the shape of the car using a basic skeleton, Lego’s team used a bunch of triangular segments to form the vehicle’s body panels. It relied on a special fabric to mimic the car’s exposed carbon-fiber bits. The front grille looks pretty darn close to original, thanks to Lego’s propeller-hub pieces.
Active aero outside, Lego gauges inside
Some of Lego’s more advanced offerings rely on pneumatics to move various parts, and the life-size Bugatti Chiron is no exception. The rear spoiler is pneumatically powered, moving out and tilting thanks to 4 extra-large Lego motors powering two compressors comprised of four Lego Technic pneumatic pumps each. It took 15 meters of silicone tubing to hook the whole system together, and it maintains about 40 psi of pressure, which the driver can monitor via a pressure meter built into the car’s instrument cluster.
While much of the full-size Chiron is permanently fixed in place, some pieces can be removed. Lego can take off the hood, trunk and rear fenders for maintenance. And, since the vehicle is functional, the doors obviously work, too. The pieces can be locked in place for extra security while the car moves under its own power.
The interior has seating for both a driver and passenger. The car’s speed is based on its motors’ output voltage, so while there’s no gas pedal, there is a brake to bring the thing to a stop. Even though it doesn’t go very fast, it does have real seat belts, which are connected to the roll cage.
There are a number of non-functional elements inside, including the gear lever, shift paddles and turn signals. That said, a surprising amount of the interior is functional, including the instrument panel, which sports custom gauges made of – you guessed it – more Lego pieces. The steering wheel is removable, and it relies on an actual steering wheel connector since it’s functional. The rear view mirror is also fully functional.
Electricity, and a lot of it
The real Chiron might have a 16-cylinder engine, and there might be a representation in the full-size Lego model, but actual forward motion comes from a whole boatload of electric motors – Lego Power Functions L-Motors, to be precise.
The rear axle gets motive force from 24 motor packs, each of which contains 96 L-Motors, which means the system contains 2,304 separate motors. With the exception of some Teflon washers that serve as bushings, the motor pack is almost entirely derived from Lego pieces. 4,032 Lego gear wheels help transfer the power in each motor pack – and remember, there are 24 such packs.
All that electric power runs to a steel chain, which connects to the driveshaft that actually turns the rear wheels. Thankfully, if one motor block has an issue, it’s modular, so it can be swapped out for another.
Lego didn’t just shove a bunch of AA batteries into the car to get those motors moving. Instead, there’s a single 80-volt, 200-amp battery that provides electricity for the whole car. There’s also a second 12-volt car battery used just for the power steering system.
The 80-volt battery also powers the lights. A press of the brake pedal will cause the brake lights to illuminate while the spoiler moves to its braking position. The Lego model also features the same startup sequence as the original car, because attention to detail never hurts.
At full clip, Lego estimates a top speed of about 19 mph, which is pretty good for a 3,300-pound hunk of plastic and steel running on air and electricity. Former Le Mans winner Andy Wallace took the model up to about 12 mph, using the most of the model’s 5.3 horsepower and 68 pound-feet of torque.