Insert Mika Hakkinen for twice the awesome.
Welcome one and all to the sixth instalment in our series of Lego’s ultimate car sets reviews. The year is 2000, and the ‘Racers’ line is off to a good start with this and the very similar 8461 Williams. With less emphasis on the technical aspects and a more authentic look, these complemented the concurrent 8448 Street Sensation car.
First impressions – This thing is huge! 34 studs wide across the rear track… a surprisingly simple build, given it’s size and apparent complexity. I found it very enjoyable to put together. Still using the old studded beams for the chassis, this is sufficiently stiff to allow it’s suspension to work properly (sort of, but we’ll come to that..) Anyhow, I’ll go through it’s features one by one like I usually do…
Engine: A very authentic for the period V10. Not very authentic for any period, it turns rather slowly when the car is pushed. If ever a car cried out for more noise, it’s this one. Never mind, that’s easily fixed and doesn’t it look lovely ? All those tubes greebling it up to great effect. Real effort was made here, including things like radiators and oil coolers to ogle when you smoothly raise the cover with it’s damped action to show it off.
Suspension: A round of applause please for those wonderful long and thin wishbone pieces… I thank you. These really help give this car it’s realistic appearance, and fortunately are stronger than they look. Another thing to admire is the cleverly contrived pushrod activation of the horizontal springs. I daresay this kit was designed by a knowledgeable F1 fan and it shows. However, although the single hard spring per wheel should be enough, at the front it isn’t. This is because the way it’s all articulated means that there’s very little movement against the spring over the course of the suspension’s travel. This is why it’s too soft and sticky in it’s action. At the rear, where there’s a bit more room, everything works fine.
Steering: Well, it wouldn’t get around Loews’ in one go – nevermind, let’s call it the Silverstone set-up… More of a problem than it’s relatively poor lock is the fiddly operation. Blame the authentically shaped steering wheel and wonder how Hamilton and Co. manage… a secondary control of some kind would have been a bonus but it works well enough.
Transmission: This is where the budget over-run on suspension pieces came from. A single fixed gear that wouldn’t be a problem if only it made more noise! I know, I know, I’ll change the record…
Body: Looking for all the world like a McLaren in it’s spangly metallic silver panels, I can only assume they refused permission to Lego to use their name. It doesn’t matter. Silver Champion is a great name for this, and appropriate given that Mika Hakkinen had won the Drivers’ Championship the previous year. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a McLaren. It so is, and bravo for that! Biased, me …? Whatever the licencing issues, the fact remains that it looks gorgeous – a surprisingly successful stab at using those multi-faceted complex panels to form a very lean and sleek shape. Just don’t put the horrible, brittle, peeling stickers on it and it’ll look ace.
This car is very definitely not a featuretastic technic supercar. What it is, is a beautiful and functional display object – the perfect gift for the F1 nerd in your life. 9/10.