Tag Archives: 1920s

The Bird & The Rat

Lego Aircraft Rat Rod

Soundling a bit like a British pub or a Simpsons episode, Sydag’s latest build pairs an F8F-2 Bearcat with a ’28 Ford pick-up rat rod, making the pilot/driver probably the coolest mini-figure in the world. See more on Flickr.

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Bentley 4½ Litre ‘Blower’ | Picture Special

Lego Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower

This incredible creation is the latest work of previous bloggee and TLCB Master MOCer Dennis Glaasker aka Brickonwheels. It’s a 1930 Bentley 4½ Litre ‘Blower’ as raced by Sir Henry Birkin in the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hour race, recreated by Dennis in astonishing detail in 1:8th scale from LEGO’s beautifully appropriate new dark green pieces.

Following Bentley’s victories in 1928 and ’29 at Le Mans the rival German teams brought supercharging to their race cars, instantly relegating the previous naturally aspirated Bentleys to mid-pack. Bentley answered with a new 6½ Litre design, however Birkin believed adding a supercharger to the existing 4½ Litre car was a better solution. With independent funding from wealthy (and eccentric) friends, the the result was the 4½ Litre ‘Blower’, which Birkin took to Le Mans to race against the official 6½ Litre works cars.

Lego Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower

W. O. Bentley famously did not approve of Sir Henry Birkin’s supercharger modification, despite selling 55 cars to be modified so that the design could be raced. It was Bentley Motors themselves that took another win as, whilst fast, Birkin’s creation proved unreliable in the gruelling 24 hour race, retiring after 138 laps.

W. O. Bentley folded his works motorsport programme that year after four back-to-back Le Mans victories, claiming there was nothing more the company could learn from the race. A year later Bentley Motors went into administration. The Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression that followed saw demand for luxury cars plummet and Bentley – unable to keep up their mortgage payments – were forced into liquidation.

Lego Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower

Sir Henry Birkin returned to Le Mans the next year, winning in an Alfa Romeo with fellow British driver Earl Howe, a feat upon which Mussolini personally congratulated him by telegram for his ‘win for Italy’.

Meanwhile Bentley Motors was put up for sale, with the ‘British Central Equitable Trust’ winning the bid to buy the company for £125,000 in 1931. The Trust proved to be a front for none other than arch rivals Rolls Royce, and the companies merged that year. W. O. Bentley himself was retained under contract, but unhappy at Rolls Royce he left for Lagonda in 1935, despite apparently stating that Bentley had made their best car under Rolls Royce ownership.

Sadly Sir Henry Birkin’s story proved more tragic. Reaching down to pick up a cigarette lighter during a pit-stop at the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix (only in the 1930s!), Birkin badly burnt himself on the exhaust pipe of his Maserati 8C. The wound turned septic and he died a month later, aged just 36.

Lego Bentley 4.5 Litre Blower

Dennis Glaasker’s breathtaking Bentley 4½ Litre ‘Blower’ as raced by Sir Henry Birkin is a fitting tribute to both one of motorsports most unusual cars and to the gentleman that raced it. A beautifully detailed engine, chassis, fuel tank, interior and drivetrain are present, and custom decals, chromed pieces, and even a rubber sheet to cover the rear seats add to the model’s phenomenal realism.

Full details of Dennis’ stunning creation can be found at the Eurobricks Forum, whilst the complete gallery of spectacular imagery is available to view on Flickr. You can also read our interview with the builder himself as part of the Master MOCers Series to find out how his incredible creations like this are made. Take look via the links above.

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Monaco 1929

Lego Monaco 1929

Monaco might be thoroughly unsuited to modern Formula 1 cars, with F1 bosses only keeping today’s slow procession on the calendar for nostalgia, but there was a time when the winding street circuit was the greatest place to race on earth.

Flickr’s Pixeljunkie takes us right back to the very first Grand Prix race held in the principality with this wonderful scene depicting the 1929 event. Navigating the Station Hairpin (as it was then known) are several superb vintage racing cars, including Pixel’s previously featured Bugatti Type 37A, whilst a series of bystanders take a very 1920s approach to Health & Safety. Join the race at Pixeljunkie’s photostream.

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Land of the Free

Lego Bugatti Type 37A

Today, the day of American Independence, we remember what makes America great. It’s not its military, it’s not a flag, it’s not building walls, and it’s not all this stuff.

What makes America great is – in this writer’s mind – the greatness of all the countries that have built it. The British, the Irish, the French, the Dutch, the Italians, the Russians, and later the countless arrivals from Africa, Asia, Central America and the Middle East.

The same can be said for the greatest cars in history, products not just of their designer, but of a multitude of nations. Today we feature two, that without contributions from beyond their country of origin, would have been mere footnotes in automotive history.

First up (above); Bugatti, who were founded by an Italian living France, and are now owned by the Germans. The gorgeous model pictured above is a Type 37A from 1928, when the French Bugatti factory built the world’s finest racing cars thanks to Italian design, and there’s more to see courtesy of Pixeljunkie on Flickr.

Second (below); Volkswagen, who were rescued from the ashes of the Second World War by the British Army. In the 1950s the company expanded into Brasil, and have since built over 20 million vehicles there, starting with this – the Type 1 – in 1958, which became the best selling vehicle there for 24 years. The excellent homage to the Type 1 pictured below was suggested to us by a reader and comes courtesy of Ben of Flickr, who has built three variants of Volkswagen’s ever popular Transporter.

Both of today’s vehicles, and countless more besides, have flourished thanks to the welcoming arms of nations found far from their origins. We believe America is great because it has allowed greatness to live within it, regardless of where that greatness may have come from. Happy Independence Day.

Lego VW Type 1 Camper, Bus, Pick-Up

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It’s a Snip!

Lego Rope Bridge

Indiana Jo… er, we mean ‘Johnny Thunder’ finally found the Treasure of Marco Polo (a box containing a stamp collection, a broken toastie maker and some Victorian pornography, since you ask) after the daring airborne race against Sam Sinister that featured here last week, and he’s now on the long road home with his bounty.

But what’s this! Sam seems to have caught up with our intrepid explorers and is deploying his much-feared office scissors to halt their escape! Will Johnny and his pals make it across the rickety bridge in time? Will Sam run carrying scissors? Find out courtesy of Travis Brickle by clicking here!

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Play Your Cars Right*

Lego Hot Rods

No sooner had we posted something as the antithesis of hot rods than we’re back with, er… two hot rods.

Built by regular bloggee Jonathan Elliott both are wonderfully clean Speed-Champions-esque designs representing two different takes on the hot rod genre. In green on the left is a seriously low chopped ’29 ‘Tudor’, whilst in red on the right is a ’31 Ford 5-Window ‘highboy’.

Both capture their respective styles beautifully and feature a wealth of neat detailing. There’s more to see of each build at Jonathan’s photostream via the link above, where you can decide if you want to go Higher or Lower.

*If you can get the tenuous 1980s British Television-related link award yourself ten TLCB Points!

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Race to Mount Everest

Lego Air Balloon

LEGO’s late ’90s Adventurers series with Johny Thunder was one of this writer’s favourites. What was basically an unlicensed Indiana Jones theme, archaeologist ‘Johnny’ travelled around the world in search of unique and wonderful artefacts whilst trying to outwit his nemesis Sam Sinister and Baron von Barron, all the while being chased by rolling boulders. This lovely flashback to the theme comes courtesy of Flickr’s Markus Rollbühler and Grant Davis who have constructed not only a brilliant hot air balloon and classic bi-plane, but also the backstory to accompany them. Join the adventure by clicking here.

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Insert Obscure Reference

Lego Vintage Car

This is the 1927 Csikós Bismuth Sport Coupe, and it’s one of the strangest automotive stories of the 1920s.

Founded by a Hungarian monk in 1919, Csikós started by producing gear assemblies. A chance meeting with Giovanni Agnelli – the founder of FIAT – on a skiing trip in Italy saw the two bond over a mutual hatred of Communism and love of starfish, and an agreement was made to exchange FIAT engine technology for Csikós gears.

The result was Csikós’s first car, based loosely on a FIAT 501. Moderate success at home and in Italy gave the company the confidence to design their own car from scratch and the Bismuth was launched a few years later. Powered by a supercharged inline-4 of 3.7 litres, the Bismuth had a top speed in excess of 70mph and found fame with the Federation il Automobile Racing de Turin (FART).

Such success was short-lived though, as the company’s founder was killed in a freak land-yacht accident just four years later. Without leadership vehicle production slowed until the factory was requisitioned by the Nazis during the Second World War.

Today the factory is gone, replaced by Hungary’s national aquarium where – in memory of Csikós – the starfish tank still bares their company name.

1927 Csikós Bismuth

Except we made all of that up.

Flickr’s Chris Elliott is the inventor of the 1927 Csikós Bismuth Sport Coupe, and now that we’ve completely butchered whatever backstory there may have been you can see more at Chris’s photostream by clicking the link above! We’ve had a lot of sugar today.

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Bee Gees

Lego GEE BEE Aircraft

Sorry, we mean Gee Bees. An important distinction that avoids you having to hear this. Founded in 1925, the Granville Brothers Aircraft company built just twenty-four aircraft until their bankruptcy eight years later, but they left one hell of mark. In the ground mostly, with a trail of fire behind it, but we’ll come on to that in a bit…

Designed primarily as sports cars for the sky, Granville Brothers’ aircraft excelled at air racing in the ’20s and ’30s, winning multiple trophy races and speed records. Known as ‘Gee Bees’ the outrageous designs looked like caricatures, with absurdly short fuselages, tiny control surfaces, and hot-rod-esque engines.

The superb Lego recreations of two of Granville Brothers’ designs pictured here come from Volker Brodkorb of Flickr, and whilst they may look like exaggerated cartoons, their real-life counterparts really did look like this. Well, until they inevitably crashed of course…

The Gee Bee Model Z Super Sportster (above) was constructed in just five weeks in 1931, with the smallest possible airframe built around the largest possible engine. The Model Z’s enormous Pratt & Witney supercharged ‘Wasp’ radial engine gave it well over 500bhp, powering it to victory in every race it entered, despite it being ‘tricky’ to fly. Later that year Granville Brothers re-engineered the Model Z with an even bigger 750bhp Wasp Senior engine in at attempt at the Landplane Speed Record, when tragically a wing failure sent the aircraft spinning into the ground in a ball of flame, killing air-racer Lowell Bayles.

The next year Granville Brothers Aircraft built a successor to the destroyed Model Z, the R-1 Super Sportster (below). With a 25ft wingspan but just 17ft long, the R-1 was if anything even more dangerous to fly than the Model Z. Nevertheless the R-1 took victory in the Thompson Trophy in 1932 and the Landplane Speed Record the same year, before its inevitable fatal crash in 1933. Granville Brothers Aircraft re-built the wreck whereupon it crashed almost immediately.

Of the twenty-four aircraft built by Granville Brothers almost every single one was destroyed in a crash, with almost a dozen fatalities. By the mid-’30s the effects of the Great Depression – and a reputation as killers – meant that orders for new Super Sportster aircraft dried up, and the Granville Brothers Aircraft company filed for bankruptcy in 1934.

A few replica Gee Bees have been constructed since, however the Granville family have only shared the original designs with museums under the promise that the recreated aircraft will never be flown. Which is probably a good thing. Even so, we’ll stick with these fantastic and non-lethal Lego replicas. There’s more to see of each, plus Volker’s other planes, by clicking here.

Lego GEE BEE Aircraft

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Fine Vintage

Lego Mercer 5 Sporting 1920

LEGO’s Speed Champions sets have brought some of the most exciting new and classic real-world cars to Lego fans in brick form. From modern McLarens to classic Mustangs, the range covers about 60 years of motoring greats. But what if it went back into the annuls of automotive history just a little further…

These three gorgeous Speed Champions style vintage cars come from Flickr’s Łukasz Libuszewski, who has done a wonderful job recreating their largely-forgeotten shapes in our favourite Danish plastic.

Lego 1928 Cadillac

The first (top, in red) is a 1920 Mercer 5 Sporting, built by the American motor car company that manufactured high performance cars from 1909 until the Great Depression put them out of business in 1925 some 5,000 units later.

The second (above, in green) is also a vintage American, but from a company that survived the depression era and is still making cars today. Founded in 1902 Cadillac are one of the oldest car companies in the world and have been owned by General Motors since 1909. The model pictured above dates from 1928 and Łukasz has used some ingenious building techniques to recreate the cycle-wings and carriage-type body typical of the time.

Lego Lancia Lambda 1922

The final of Łukasz’s three vintage builds (above, in brown) comes from the other side of the Atlantic and Italy, where Lancia have been producing cars since 1906. Lancia are now sadly a shadow of their previous greatness and today produce just one car (an ugly Fiat knock-off), making us fear that they’ll be gone altogether before long.

This 1922 Lambda was the polar opposite of their hateful modern offering, a revolutionary design that pioneered independent suspension, the world’s first unitary body, and that produced almost 70bhp from its four-cylinder engine.

The Lambda has been recreated beautifully by Łukasz in the model pictured above and there’s more to see of it the other excellent vintage Speed Champions cars shown here by visiting his photostream – click here to see some of the finest cars of 1920s.

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It’s a Gas!

Lego Gas Station 1920s Bugatti

Andrea Lattanzio (aka Norton74) is becoming a regular at The Lego Car Blog with his beautiful vintage motoring scenes. This wonderful Bugatti Type 35 has appeared here before, pictured being unearthed in an elderly farmer’s barn. This time Andrea takes us back to the when the car (and farmer) were a little younger, with this brilliant historic gas station scene. We’re not sure the Bugatti would be a new car, even in this era, as something much more recent seems to be poking out of the garage, but nevertheless we’re willing to bet that the Type 35 caused a bit of a stir at the Shell Service. There’s more to see of Andrea’s gorgeous build on Flickr – click here to step back in time, or here for today’s title song.

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75875 Rewound

Lego Hot Rod and Pick-Up 75875

LEGO’s 75875 Speed Champions set is a neat officially-licensed product, complete with a modern Ford F-150 pick-up and a retro Ford Coupe hot rod. Previous bloggee Jonathan Elliott is feeling even more retro though and he’s reworked the set backwards by around 40 years to create a 1970s F-150 and a 1925 Ford Model-T racer. Step back in time at the link above.

Lego Hot Rod and Pick-Up 75875

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Party Animals!

Lego Ford Model T Party Animals

Things are getting wild down on the farm! This menagerie of drunken farm animals doesn’t look dissimilar to the last party we had here at TLCB Towers. If you replace the Ford Model T with a wheelie chair. And the farm animals with a near-comatose TLCB staff writer. And the riotous abandon with remorseful crying. And ‘party’ with ‘drinking alone’.

Anyway, enough about this blogger’s Friday night, this wonderful scene comes from Paul (aka Brick Baron) of Flickr and it was built for this year’s BrickCon Lego convention. There’s more to see of his colourful party animals at his photostream – click the link above to make the jump!

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Barn Find Bugatti

Lego Barn Find Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix

It’s every petrolhead’s dream to unearth an amazing classic car, unknown to the world for decades, hidden away in an unopened garage, workshop or barn.

It’s TLCB Master MOCer Andrea Lattanzio aka Norton74‘s dream too, so he’s decided to build his very own barn find, depicting the moment a farmer reveals the old Bugatti racing car that’s been sleeping untouched for half a century beside his hay.

This particular barn find would be sure to raise some global interest, with Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix’s fetching around $1.5million at auction. Do you think he’ll sell it? Head over to Andrea’s photostream to ask the farmer really nicely.

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In the Bank

Lego Brooklands 1935

It’s time for some history here at TLCB, because we are – at heart – complete nerds.

The world’s first purpose-built racetrack (or what’s left of it) lies not far from TLCB Towers. The Brooklands race circuit opened in 1907, built partly for manufacturers of the newly emerging auto-industry to test their cars, and partly because driving really quickly is bloody good fun.

Measuring just under 3 miles long the Brooklands track was built from uncoated concrete banking, which in places reached 30ft high, and was simply unimaginably steep, far steeper than any modern banked circuit. With no safety barrier at the top and cars routinely getting airborne over the bumpy concrete the spectacle was incredible, and crowds topped a quarter of a million in the circuit’s hay-day.

The outbreak of the First World War saw Brooklands requisitioned by the War Office, as the site also included an aerodrome, becoming the UK’s largest aircraft manufacturing centre by 1918. The end of the war saw motor racing return the the track, alongside the continuation of aircraft manufacturing, but when Hitler decided that Germany hadn’t quite finished with Europe yet motor racing at the track ceased for good.

During the Second World War the Brooklands site became the hub of Hawker fighter and Wellington bomber manufacturing, amongst other aircraft, and the track’s survival as a piece of British heritage sadly, but necessarily, came second to the war effort. Trees were planted on the track to disguise it from German bombers, and whole sections ripped up to expand the runways.

By the end of the war the track was in a poor state, and the site was sold to Vickers-Armstrong to continue operations as an aircraft factory, at one time laying claim to being the largest aircraft hanger in the world. However as the UK’s aircraft manufacturing industry declined the Brooklands site was gradually sold off, becoming a business park, a supermarket, and the Mercedes-Benz World driving instruction track.

Today not much of the original circuit remains, but what does is managed by the Brooklands Museum, who are endeavouring to preserve possibly the most important motor racing, aeronautical and war-time manufacturing site in the world. A recent heritage grant aims to return both the aero-buildings and the famous Finishing Straight to their former glory, and a section of the incredible concrete banking is still standing. You can even take a car on it if you’re feeling brave.

If you’re in the UK and you get the chance to visit the Brooklands Museum we highly recommend it, but for our readers further afield you can get an idea of the insanity of the vintage racing that once took place there courtesy of this lovely scene recreating Brooklands circa-1935 by Flickr’s Redfern. There’s more to see of his 1930s Maserati, its racing counterpart, and his wonderfully recreated Brooklands banking his photostream. Click the link above to step back in time.

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