Welcome to the next instalment in our series of Lego’s ‘ultimate’ car sets reviews. We had a fight over who was going to post this one. Likely I won ;). This set was bought for me by my girlfriend in 1995. Needless to say I was so impressed with it, that I married her!
It was originally released in 1994, 6 years after its predecessor 8865. The last of the supercars to be built purely from studded beams. It is packed with functions that we all take for granted today and includes over 1300 pieces, some new and unique never to be seen again.
Let’s start with the chassis as all good supercars should. Traditional Technic principles of multi layered beams separated by two plates make this a very strong and stable model. If you want to learn how to build a Technic chassis you need not look any further.
Next the gearbox and transmission, this is where we start seeing some new and exciting pieces, which are still used today. The new transmission driving rings and their reciprocal clutch gears allow for a smooth four speed transmission with a good range of ratios. The specially made gear stick and shift plate I believe are unique to this set. Transmitting power to all four wheels through 3 ‘new’ style differentials and a completely unique hub system. This part of the model is a huge leap forward from its predecessor and in my opinion has not been matched until the recent release of the 2011 Unimog.
Suspension and Steering – Independent suspension using double wishbones on all four wheels fully integrated into a four wheel steering system via the hubs and steering arms. Very clever and total overkill, but great fun to build and play with. The suspension travel is somewhat limited and a little stiff. Although you can increase the travel with minor modifications, but I suspect the wheels would rub on the body at full compression. You can not drop it from height, as you could with 8865, as the steering link would ‘pop off’ the ball pin/joint. I believe in later sets black pins where included with more friction to address this problem. In my opinion this is the only major problem with the set. This was the first supercar to include a Hand of God device and in-car steering, making it much more playable than previous supercars. It is a little awkward to use if you have fat fingers, but a minor modification (pulling the wheel up by a half bush or two allows for a more pleasant action, and much easier than reaching into the car. It is possible to change the steering wheel (another new part) to right hand drive, if you so desire, but you need to start the process very early on in the build – not really possible post build.
The engine is a ‘new’ style V8 connected via a drive chain as opposed to a more solid gear system. A minor flaw but nothing to write home about.
The bodywork is as good as it gets when using studded beams. It comes with what seem like hundreds of hinges that cleverly create a skeleton shell. The boot (rear hatch) opens and locks into place but unfortunately there are no driver or passenger doors – Dukes of Hazard style entry system then. When compared to more recent Technic models it does look a little blocky, but for the time it was pretty darn good. You could roll this bad boy on a high speed corner and survive the crash, unlike more modern panelled and flexi pipe models which buckle and break easily. Oh yeah its black – gotta love black Lego. The pop up lights are a nice touch and operated by a lever on the dashboard. The seats look OK but are no where near as functional as its predecessors, another minor flaw.
The second model is a great build in its own right and resembles a Formula 1 / Indi car from the late 80s early 90s. Includes full independent suspension and a two speed sequential 😉 gearbox. A nice build except for the dashboard which is under a lot of stress – one wrong move and it will ping across the room slide under the sofa and be lost for ever.
It comes with a few stickers but luckily they do not span more than one brick so you can take the model apart, and rebuild as many times as you like without damaging them. The box is a sturdy construction and includes a plastic tray with divider boxes. I wish Lego would reintroduce these types of boxes. Wink wink nudge nudge.
In summary a huge leap forward from 8865, a good looking model (for the era) full of functions and a challenging build for all ages. It has lots of potential for modifications; increased suspension, removing the rear wheel steering and the interior could be improved, but I am a Lego purist and love it just the way it is. I have built most of the Technic supercars, F1 cars and 4x4s over the last 30 years. This is the one I use as my bench mark. An easy 9/10. The only one I that think beats this classic is the new Unimog. Oh and maybe 8860 – you never forget your first love 😉
Happy building 🙂