Tag Archives: 1980s

Mud Pack

Gosh today’s title is tenuous, even for us. You see a mud pack is often a volcanic mask… Anyway, this is Orion Pax‘s ‘M.A.S.K Volcano’, a near perfect brick built replica of the mid-’80s Hasbro toy that accompanied the M.A.S.K cartoon TV show.

The show, designed mostly to sell toys, pitched the ‘Mobile Armoured Strike Kommand’ (spelt wrong because it’s cooler that way) against the ‘Vicious Evil Network Of Mayhem’ (VENOM), who seemingly took a very literal and non-secretive approach to their naming.

Beyond that, we’re not really sure what the show was about, but it did lead to toys that split down the middle to reveal a giant rotating cannon (as in the case of the Volcano here), that has got the Elves very excited.

Orion’s model transforms beautifully as per the original toy and there’s more to see at his photostream. Apply your mud pack via the link!

One Time Winner

This is a BMW M3. The first BMW M3 in fact, back when it was light, agile, and powered by just four cylinders.

Built as a homologation special for touring car racing, the E30-series M3 was not intended to compete at the highest level of the World Rally Championship, what with that being dominated by the four-wheel-drive Group B cars from Audi and Lancia.

However, for just one rally, in 1987, the E30 BMW M3 was untouchable. The Tour de Course is a tight, all-tarmac rally held on the island of Corsica, and it’s just like a (very long) touring car race. All-wheel-drive and enormous power didn’t matter, as Bernard Béguin proved by taking a start-to-finish victory in his BMW M3, the first and only time BMW has won a WRC event.

This incredible brick-built replica of the Rothmans-BMW M3 rally car is the work of Dennis Glaasker (aka bricksonwheels), who has recreated the 1987 Tour de Corse winner with astounding realism.

Around 2,000 LEGO parts have been used, detailing the exterior, rally-spec interior, and inline-4 turbocharged engine under the hood, with fellow previous bloggee JaapTechnic assisting Dennis with the build by designing the stunning replica Rothmans-BMW livery.

The result is one of the most life-like creations of the year so far, presented beautifully to Dennis’ usual impeccable standard. There’s more of this astonishing creation to see at Dennis’ ‘BMW M3 Rally’ album on Flickr, and you can find out more about how he creates his amazing creations such as this one via the Master MOCer series by clicking here.

What’s Brown and Smelly?

It’s time for another delve into the automotive curiosity cupboard that is the Eastern Bloc, a Communist alliance renowned for the oppression of millions, waiting lists that stretched into decades, and cars that were almost comically bad. This is one of them, the Wartburg 353.

As with many Communist creations though, the Wartburg was not a bad car when it launched in the late 1960s. A weird one perhaps, but not bad objectively speaking.

The 353 started production from a pinched BMW factory in 1966, and was powered by a 1 litre, 3-cylinder, 2-stroke engine that had its roots in a 1938 DKW. This made it as torquey as the larger engines in the west, and meant it had only seven major moving parts, but also made the car incredibly unrefined and polluting, leaving a cloud of burnt oil behind it whenever it went.

A unique freewheel system meant the 353 required no clutch to change gear, and the car was also front-wheel-drive, still fairly novel at the time, although the set-up imbued it with terrifying understeer characterises in the wet.

Despite the niggles, the Wartburg 353’s low price, reliability, and the fact it wasn’t a Trabant, led to success, and meant that – due to the ‘planned economy’ of East Germany – the waiting list stretched out to fifteen years for private citizens.

The 353 was also exported to several countries as the Wartburg ‘Knight’, presumably to bring in foreign currency (which must have been frustrating for those on the waiting list), as well as being used by the police and East German government.

Of course as time passed the 353 became increasingly outdated, and little was done to keep pace with Western products that were out of reach for those trapped behind the Iron Curtain. The government even repeatedly refused to upgrade the polluting 2-stroke engine, despite Wartburg’s engineers having developed working alternatives.

By the late-’80s the writing was on the wall, both for East Germany and Wartburg. The eventual addition of a modern 1.3 litre engine from the Volkswagen Polo in 1984 came too late, and the reunification of Germany finally killed the 353 – alongside many other long-obsolete East German offerings – in 1988.

This splendid Model Team recreation of the Wartburg 353 ‘Tourist’ is the work of previous bloggee Legostalgie, who has captured the East German family car beautifully in period-correct brown.

Opening doors, hood and tailgate, plus a detailed engine and interior all feature, and there’s lots more of the model to see at Legostalgie’s ‘Wartburg 353 Tourist’ Flickr album. Click the link above to join a fifteen year queue in East Germany sometime in the 1970s.

Swedish Brick

We recently wrote a post about things that TLCB Elves like, so today we’re jumping straight to a thing that we like, and ignoring the Elves completely. They’re rather annoyed by this of course, but the intersection of the Venn diagram that displays their likes and ours is quite sparsely populated, so we’re unlikely to please both them and us.

Cue the Volvo 240 estate and the cause of their annoyance, which was once – by some margin – the least cool car on sale in TLCB’s home market. Driven only by antiques dealers at precisely 43mph, even if the road had a speed limit of 70, they caused Volvo such reputational damage that the brand even fired a few off a cliff when marketing later models to show how far they’d come.

However the car itself was actually very good, and now that antiques dealers are all driving SUVs (along with everyone else), the long forgotten Volvo estate has become seriously, deeply, almost mythically cool.

This magnificent slab of vintage Swede is the work of regular bloggee Jonathan Elliott, who has not only recreated the Volvo 240 estate wonderfully in brick form, he’s even chucked a sofa on the roof as a nod to its antiques transporting history.

Join us (but not the Elves) in lusting after 1980s Volvo ownership at Jonathan’s photostream via the link above.

Cotton Communism

From one iconic classic to another, although this one perhaps for very different reasons…

The Trabant 601 was a reasonable little car when it first launched in the 1960s, despite the shortage of metal in post-war Europe forcing its construction from cotton, and its two-stroke 600cc engine.

The cotton body meant that it didn’t rust, which – combined with a near monopoly in East Germany and a production run until the collapse of the Soviet Union some thirty years later – led to well over two million Trabants being on the roads at one point.

That number quickly fell once East Germans could buy Volkswagens and Opels instead though, as even by the ’80s the 601 was hopelessly outdated, such is the folly of Communism.

Cue this excellent Model Team version of the Trabant 601, built by Flickr’s Legostalgie who has recreated the classic cotton car superbly in brick form. A detailed interior, engine bay, and opening doors, hood and trunk are included, and there’s more to see at Legostalgie’s ‘Trabant 601’ album by clicking here.

The Speediest Champion

Is there a car more perfect for LEGO’s new 8-wide Speed Champions range than the Ferrari F40? The most iconic Ferrari ever made has appeared in Creator form, but not yet as an 8-wide set. We’re sure it will at some point, and until then Jonathan Elliott has built one so wonderful we doubt it’ll be beaten. Head to Jonathan’s photostream via the link above to look at the best small-scale Ferrari F40 we’ve seen yet.

Bean’s Nemesis

Superman and Lex Luther. Batman and Joker. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Peter Griffin and the Giant Chicken. There are some very famous nemesis, but – in this writer’s opinion – none more so than Mr. Bean and the mystery driver a blue Reliant Regal van. We don’t know why the aforementioned anonymous van-driver enraged our hero so, but we’re willing to go with it for scenes like this one.

Recreating Bean’s arch-rival, along with his own Mini from probably the most famous Mr. Bean scene of them all, is Rob of Flickr – who has encapsulated both cars brilliantly in brick form. The Mini probably deserves to give a nod of thanks (or several) to designs by previous bloggees _Tyler and Lasse Deleuran, but it’s still worth your click. Take a look via the link above!

HEMTT

A military truck loaded with mystery green canisters can’t be good. Well, the model is good, but you know what we mean. Regular bloggee Ralph Savelsberg is the builder of this ’80s M985 ‘Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck’ loaded with the rocket launcher cargo used in Operation Desert Storm. Blow up something in Iraq circa-1991 via the link above.

Just Like a 911. Sort of.

The Porsche 911 is not the only rear-engined rear-wheel-drive European car. In fact there were loads, including Volkswagens, Tatras, Skodas, the Smart ForTwo, and – of course – Fiats.

Following the phenomenally successful 500, Fiat followed up with another rear-engined, rear-driven design, the near five-million selling 126.

Much of the 126’s technology was based on the 1950’s 500, which – considering it was produced in Polski-Fiat 126p form until the year 2000 – is both an astonishing achievement and rather frightening.

It’s the Polski-Fiat version we’re featuring here today, a car that mobilised Poland, although only if you were prepared to wait years or had communistical connections. Recreated in a fetching ‘hearing-aid beige’ / ‘baby-sick yellow’, Legostalgie‘s Model Team replica of the 126p captures the real car wonderfully, with a near perfect exterior, detailed interior, plus opening doors, front trunk and engine cover, with a realistic two-cylinder engine underneath.

Legostalgie has presented his model beautifully, and there are more top-notch images available to view at his ‘Polski Fiat 126p’ album on Flickr – click on the link above for all the drawbacks of a 1970’s Porsche 911, but none of the thrills…

Nice Niva

We often mock Communist-era Eastern European cars for being slow, highly polluting, ageing designs built for far longer than they should have been. Because we’re so much better in the West…

So here’s a Communist-era Eastern European car that’s a slow, highly polluting, ageing design that’s been built for far longer than it should have been. And we absolutely love it.

No, we’re not consistent.

Anyway, this is the Lada Niva / VAZ-2121, a wonderful compact off-roader that was not only more advanced than the famous Western offerings of the time (cough Land Rover Defender cough), it’s still in production without becoming just another enormous luxury SUV (cough Land Rover Defender cough).

This lovely Model Team recreation of the Niva captures the real car brilliantly, with opening doors, hood and tailgate, a detailed interior and engine bay, plus some suitable over-landing accompaniments mounted on the roof.

Flickr’s Legostalgie is the builder and there’s more of this superb Soviet 4×4 to see at his ‘Lada Niva / VAZ-2121’ album – take a look via the link above!

Whole Lotta Lada

We like crap cars here at TLCB. The office car park features several. OK, by ‘like’, we mean ‘own’, but we do genuinely like it when they’re built from Lego bricks.

This is one such crap car, the Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101, and whilst the car-based efforts of communism were almost uniformly terrible, there is a lot to like about the Lada 1200.

Developed from the then decade-old Fiat 124, the Lada 1200 actually had a throughly excellent base, as back in the 1960s Fiat were one of the most forward-thinking and technologically advanced manufacturers* in Europe, with the Fiat 124 winning the European Car of the Year award in 1967.

The Lada 1200 was therefore actually quite a good car when it was launched, with a strengthened chassis, more advanced overhead cam engine, and the Fiat’s one key foible – rust – almost eliminated by Lada and VAZ’s use of much thicker steel and paint.

Of course decent engineering can be very much undone by poor build quality, limited competition, and corner cutting, which sums up communistical manufacturing nicely, and thus the Lada (and Soviet cars in general) quickly became known for being total crap. And that was even when compared to rivals like the Austin Allegro.

We’ll much rather take this one then – which features build quality on a level never achieved in Lada factory – from TLCB newcomer Legostalgie.

Legostalgie’s Model Team recreation of the Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101is superb, with opening doors, hood and trunk, a detailed engine and interior, and infinitely better build quality than the real thing.

Neatly pictured on a grey sofa (we think!), Legostalgie also proves you don’t need a professional set-up to Photo like a Pro, and there’s more to see of his wonderful Lada 1200 / VAZ-2101 model on Flickr by clicking these words.

*What the hell happened?

A Whale of a Time

We’re not sure why whales are renowned for having such a good time, but we guess their partying reputation fits with the matra ‘Go Big or Go Home’.

Whatever the reason, Porsche decided that their 911 could do with being a bit more whaley in the 1970s, and fitted it with a huge ‘whale tail’ spoiler. And a turbo.

Said turbo added to the whaley fun, providing absolutely no power at all for a long time, and then suddenly all the power at once. This meant ’70s 911 Turbo drivers did indeed have a whale of a time right up until the point when they were upside-down in a field. That’s ‘Go Big or Go Home’ again we suppose…

This brilliant Porsche 911 Turbo comes from barneius, who has recreated the whale-tailed classic superbly in 8-wide Speed Champions scale. There are more beautifully sharp images available to view on Flickr, where you can also find a link to building instructions so that you can recreate chronic turbo lag and snap oversteer in miniature at home!

Click the link above to have a whale of a time!

Soviet Snowrunner

This is a UAZ 3151, one of the Soviet Union’s many fantastically-boringly-titled, but actually very capable off-roaders. Built by Keymaker, this stunning fully RC recreation of the Russian off-roader not only looks the part in both standard and off-road modified forms, it’s absolutely packed with brilliant Technic engineering.

Drive for all four wheels comes from two L Motors whilst a Servo controls the steering. A Medium Motor operates front and rear remotely locking differentials, and not only are both axles suspended, the suspension height can be adjusted via an L Motor to vary the ground clearance.

These off-road mods are apparently inspired the video game ‘Snowrunner’, and Keymaker has gone further with his Technic model equipping it with a removable hardtop roof, removable bodywork, folding rear seats, an opening glovebox, opening and locking doors, a working inline-4 engine, and LED head and tail lights.

It’s an incredible build and one that’s definitely worth a closer look. Head to Eurobricks for full details and a video of the UAZ in action, and to Bricksafe for the complete image gallery, where you can find outdoor shots and pictures of the model in various states of off-road modification.

Blazin’ Trails

This TLCB Writer rather likes old square 4x4s, particularly if they have winch, roof rack, and assorted adventuring stuff piled on top. Suggested by a reader, Andrea Lattanzio’s classic Chevrolet Blazer has appeared here before in various guises, and there’s more to see of this one – including the wider diorama of which it is part – on Flickr here.

Carrying Cars

LEGO’s range of officially-licensed Creator sets keeps on growing, and they’re mostly ace. But for collectors with limited shelf space, storing this growing range of vehicles may be a problem. Flickr’s Arian Janssens has the answer though, with this superb DAF FA 2500 car transporter, capable of storing eight LEGO Creator Expert sets.

Pictured here transporting the 10248 Ferrari F40, 10262 Aston Martin DB5 ‘Goldfinger’, 10252 Volkswagen Beetle, 10242 Mini Cooper, and 10265 Ford Mustang (with room for three more), Arian’s DAF looks the perfect place to stack up some sets.

There’s much more to see at Arian’s ‘DAF FA 2500 DHS Car Transporter’ album on Flickr, and you can do just that by clicking these words.