Tag Archives: France

My Other Car’s a Camper

You may not be familiar with Matra, but they’re probably the most important car company you’ve never heard of. Enormously successful on track, Matra won the Formula 1 World Championship in 1969, and the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1972, ’73 and ’74. They designed the first MPV, the first crossover, and – for a while – they made this, the delightfully weird three-seat Bagheera sports car.

Powered by 1.3 or 1.5 litre Simca engines, the lightweight Bagheera was faster than most other European small sports cars of the time, and cheaper too. It was a trend-setter in other ways however, being appalling built to the point of winning the ‘Silver Lemon’ award in 1975 for poorest quality, which when combined with a chassis without any rust protection whatsoever, makes the Bagheera a very rare sight today.

One Bagheera that won’t rust is this excellent Model Team version by previous bloggee monstermatou, who has constructed his entirely from the parts found within the Creator 10220 Volkswagen T1 Camper set. Following his stunning Citroen DS19 built for TLCB’s Lock-Down B-Model competition, Monster’s Matra continues his weird-French-cars-built-from-LEGO-sets theme, and his run of incredible B-Model builds that you can find at his photostream.

There’s more to see of monstermatou’s Matra Bagheera on Flickr via the link above, along with a host of other ace alternates including the aforementioned Citroen, a Morgan built from a Mini, and a Fiat 500 constructed from the same Camper set as this classic French oddball.

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My Other Car’s a Mustang

LEGO’s brilliant 10265 Ford Mustang set is one of the finest additions to the Creator line-up yet. That it has spawned so many B-Models too, is testament to how great a set it really is. In fact, it inspired this whole competition.

Joining a host of other builders to use 10265 as their chosen set in TLCB’s Lock-Down B-Model Competition, Flickr’s monstermatou has taken the Mustang in a very different direction, recreating one of the most technologically advanced and unusual cars of all time; the glorious Citroen DS19.

Despite using only the parts from the 10265 Ford Mustang set, monstermatou has replicated the DS19’s spaceship exterior absolutely beautifully, from the roof-mounted indicators to the hidden rear wheels. The superb realism doesn’t stop with the outside either, as behind the four opening doors is a brilliant interior with a working steering wheel, a detailed engine sits underneath the opening hood, and even the trunk opens too.

Things are getting tough at the top for the competition judges, and if you’d like to enter your own B-Model into the competition (where the winner and runner up will receive some awesome prizes) there’s still plenty of time; entries close on June 30th.

Until then you can see more of monstermatou’s stunning Citroen DS19 at his photostream by clicking here, where you will not only find a huge gallery of pristine images, there is also a link to building instructions so you can build it for yourself, plus monstermatou has a whole range of other incredible B-Models to view!

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Electric Egg

Today’s title may sound like something your Mom uses on the bus whilst reading Mills & Boon books, but it is in fact a car so ahead of its time they only made one.

Designed by French engineer Paul Arzens in 1942, the ‘L’Oeuf Electrique‘ (electric egg) was an incredible looking electric two seater with a range of 100km at 70km/h. That’s comparable with today’s electric city cars. In 1942! Sadly it never got made, but fast forward to 2020 at in many parts of the world it would do very well indeed. Just not in our home nation because it’s not a generically bland SUV. Sigh.

Found on, er… The Brothers Brick (TLCB Elves won’t look us in the eye at the moment), TLCB debutant aido k is the builder behind this marvellous Lego recreation of L’Oeuf and there’s more to see of Yesterday’s City Car of Tomorrow at his photostream via the link.

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French Fishing

Despite it being on the news every day in TLCB’s home nation for three years, this website has so far managed to avoid taking about Brexit. We’ll segway neatly to it today though, because a) something might actually happen this month (but probably not) and b) this lovely digital French fishing vessel by Flickr’s Edouard Clo provides a neat Brexit metaphor.

OK, first the elephant in the room – yes this is a digital ‘build’ (boo), but it’s also so well rendered that it’s really hard to tell – only an error/glitch in the image below (see if you can spot it!) gives the game away.

The detail is astonishing though, particularly as this is mini-figure scale, with a brilliant hull, a beautifully recreated deck, plentiful equipment, and some French fisherman stationed aboard ready to throw rocks at the English. And on to the segway…

You see one of the reasons the English narrowly voted for Brexit was the EU allows anyone from within it to bid for fishing rights, which means there are parts of the UK where fisherman are not allowed to fish in their own waters because the quota has been given to boats from another country, despite generations of fishing families living and working off those waters for centuries.

However this rule works both ways, with English boats plundering the French coasts of their precious scallops all year, when the French are only allowed to fish for them during certain months. This has caused some annoyance in France to put it mildly.

This one industry sums up both the greatness and folly of the EU; Everyone is in one big happy family, where everyone has access to everything. Except for when people aren’t really happy at all because generations of traditions and livelihoods have been sacrificed for a common objective. And that leads to people sometimes throwing rocks at each other.

Still, the UK and France have a long and noble tradition of antagonising each other so all we need now is for someone to build a mini-figure scale English scallop trawler to enable a fair representation of both sides. Until then grab some rocks and set sail to intercept the thieving English pig-dogs!

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Mechanical Mehari

Citroen are not known for their off-roaders. Ok, these days all they seem to make are – like every car company – SUVs, but they’re about as good off-road as Kim Kardashian is at plumbing.

However Citroen’s roots are far more off-roady than you might think; one of the 2CV’s key objectives was to cross a field without breaking any eggs.

And that’s where this comes in; the delightful 2CV-based Mehari.

Produced from the late ‘60s the Mehari was designed as a utilitarian two-wheel-drive off-roader (although four-wheel-drive versions followed) for civilian and military use, and – just like the models we have here – it was made out of plastic.

The models we have here come from TLCB favourite Nico71, who has recreated the Mehari beautifully in Technic form.

Nico’s design features steering, a removable roof, opening doors, hood and tailgate, and – most importantly – an accurate recreation of the Mahari’s superb suspension system.

There’s loads more to see of Nico’s wonderful build at his website by clicking here, where full details, an extensive image gallery, and building instructions are all available.

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Broadside

Blam blam blam blam! You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person. I blow my nose at you, so-called Arthur-king, you and all your silly English knnnniggets!* Blam blam blam blam!

This French vs. British battle might not contain a car, but it’s about as good a scene as you’ll even find in Lego. Wesley of Flickr is the man behind it and there’s more to see at his photostream via the link above.

*If you have no idea what we’re on about…

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Tour de Paris

Short of Brigitte Bardot in a beret, a broken Peugeot, or a strike, is there anything more French than a Parisian street scene complete with a Citroen 2CV? This gorgeous diorama complete with everyone’s favourite air-cooled twin-cylinder people’s car is the work of Markus Rollbuhler of Flickr, and follows his brilliant Far Cry gyrocopter scene featured yesterday. Click the link above to jump on the Eurostar and be in Paris in time for a lunchtime crepe.

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Matra MS80

Lego Matra MS80 Forumla 1

Matra may not a be a manufacturer familiar to many of you, but if so they’re one of the greatest companies you’ve never heard of.

Founded in the 1960s Matra have made everything from sports cars to air-to-air missiles, including probably the world’s first crossover and the world’s first MPV (albeit for Renault). However it’s their racing subsidiary, Equipe Matra Sports, that we’re most interested in here.

Equipe Matra Sports produced racing cars for an almost immeasurable number of categories, winning Le Mans three times, five Formula 2 Championships, and both the Drivers and Constructors Formula 1 World Championships in 1969, making them the only team besides Ferrari to win the Championship with a car not built in Britain.

This is that car, the gorgeous Matra MS80, powered by the ubiquitous Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 and run by Ken Tyrrell before he started his own team. In the hands of Jackie Stewart the MS80 won five of the ten races it entered in the ’69 season, winning the Championship by a huge margin, despite the fact that every other race winner that year used the same engine.

This fabulous Model Team replica of the Matra MS80 comes from classic racer extraordinaire Luca Rusconi aka RoscoPC, with a superbly-replicated Cosworth DFV engine, working steering and suspension, and some ace period-correct decals. There’s more to see of Luca’s brilliant Matra MS80 on Flickr via the link above, plus you can read our interview with the builder as part of the Master MOCers Series by clicking here.

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French Thunder

Lego 1905 Darracq 200hp

The French don’t often get much credit for their automobiles. Least of all here at The Lego Car Blog, even though France pretty much invented motor racing, the world’s most famous race is held there every year, and of course they’re (sort of) responsible for the world’s fastest production car too. Well today we put that right, with one of the most amazing cars from the early years of motoring.

Powered by a 200hp V8, the Darracq LSR was little more than a enormous engine bolted to two girders, an approach that we like the sound of very much. It set the Land Speed Record in 1905 at almost 200km/h and it still exists today, regularly tackling the Goodwood Festival of Speed hillclimb almost completely sideways, despite coming from a time long before drifting was a thing.

This neat Technic replica of the monstrous French racer comes from Nikolaus Löwe of Flickr, and it’s genuinely about as technically advanced as the real car, which isn’t hard. Take a closer look at one of the forgotten heroes of motor racing via the link above.

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Technic Snail

Lego Technic Citroen 2CV

The Citroen 2CV, affectionately (and unaffectionately) known as ‘ the tin snail’ owing to its looks and glacial speed, is one one of the world’s most important cars. Yes, you did read that right.

Designed in the 1930s, Citroen’s Car-for-the-People was intended for France’s numerous rural workers who were largely still dependent upon the horse for transportation. Reliable, fuel efficient, easy to maintain, and above all cheap, the 2CV was engineered to mobilise an entire population class. And then Hitler decided to be ‘a bit of a dick’.

The German invasion and the subsequent commandeering of French factories to build stuff for blowing up the British meant production for the innovative and much-needed 2CV never started. Fearful of the Nazi’s stealing the design, Citroen hid their 2CV prototypes across France in the hope they would remain undetected (some of which are still being unearthed today).

Lego Technic Citroen 2CV

The Allied victory in 1945 left behind a ruined France, but thankfully for Citroen an undetected cache of 2CV prototypes. Three years later, and a decade after the car was first engineered, the 2CV finally reached production.

As much as Europe’s poor workers needed cheap reliable transportation before World War 2, they really needed it afterwards, and the little Citroen was a huge success. Half the price of Germany’s ‘People’s Car’ – the Volkswagen Beetle, the 2CV sold almost 4 million units in a production run that spanned five decades and nine different countries.

When Citroen 2CV production finally ceased in 1990 the car had become a bit of a joke, but for much of its life the 2CV was the most important car in Europe, and is surely one of the greatest car designs ever created.

Lego Technic Citroen 2CV

This fitting tribute to one of France’s icons of motoring comes from previous bloggee and Technic building legend Nico71 who has recreated the simplicity of Citroen’s engineering beautifully. The 2CV’s legendary leading and trailing arm suspension (designed so a peasant could carry eggs unbroken across a ploughed field) has been faithfully reproduced in Lego form, plus there’s working steering and the doors, hood and trunk all open.

There’s lots more of Nico71’s brilliant Technic 2cv to see via Brickshelf, plus you watch a video of the model on YouTube by clicking here.

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Ocean Custodian

Lego RV Calypso Research Boat

Built by TLCB debutant Luis Pena, this is a 1:100 scale replica of the research vessel ‘Calypso’, complete with a helicopter and ‘diving saucer’ submersible vehicle.

The Calypso was originally a US-built wooden-hulled British minesweeper that served in the Mediterranean during the Second World War. Following the Allied victory the ship returned to US hands before being recommissioned as a Maltese ferry.

Within a year however, British millionaire Thomas Loel Guinness purchased the ship and gave it to the diving pioneer, film-maker, conservationist and adventurer Jacques-Yves Cousteau for use as a marine research vessel, a role the Calypso fulfilled for five decades. During an incredible half-century of oceanic exploration Cousteau and the Calypso made numerous discoveries, including the wreck of the HMHS Brittanic sunk during the First World War, the ability of marine mammals to use echolocation, and halted the dumping of radioactive waste in the Mediterranean Sea.

In 1996, almost fifty years after it entered service with Cousteau, the RV Calypso was accidentally rammed by a barge in Singapore and it sunk in the harbour. A week later the ship was raised and transferred to a shipyard, however Jacques-Yves Cousteau died the following year of a heart attack aged 87, and the Calypso was left to rot as various parties fought over the boat’s ownership, its restoration, and unpaid bills.

Today the ship, which has featured in film, documentaries, song, and even has a namesake in Star Trek, is still quietly dissolving in a shipyard in France, a victim of mankind’s inability to put progress over profit. However Cousteau’s legacy remains almost unfathomably huge, and continues to today via the environmental protection foundation that he created which now numbers over 300,000 members.

This beautiful homage to a ship which as done probably more than any other can be found in greater detail at Luis’ photostream on Flickr, and includes both above and below the waterline versions (each pictured here). There’s more to see via the link above, and you can read more about the Cousteau Society that continues Jacques-Yves’ work today by clicking here.

Lego RV Calypso Research Boat

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La Goutte Grise

Lego Peugeot 607

France has built many fine luxury cars. This is not one of them.

Launched at the end of the millennium, the Peugeot 607 was an anonymous grey blob of a car that sold like anthrax cupcakes. Built at the height of Peugeot’s reliabilities issues, the last thing anyone wanted was a French car loaded with extra equipment which would inevitably and immediately go wrong.

This meant that like Renault’s (admittedly very adventurous) luxury offerings at the time, the Peugeot 607 was destined to be used almost exclusively as a tool for French Government officials, and then later – after the free-fall depreciation had kicked-in – as a taxi at Portuguese airports.

Lego Peugeot 607

This Lego homage to one of the world’s least good luxury cars is the work of Rolands Kirpis of Flickr, and it is quite simply an exceptional build. Everything that makes the real Peugeot 607 look like a part dissolved dishwasher tablet makes it one hell of a tricky car to reconstruct from right-angled Danish plastic, however Rolands has done a remarkably effective job of capturing the 607’s, er… blobby-ness? Blobicity? Blobery? Whatever.

Featuring a detailed interior, an opening hood with a neat and recognisable engine underneath, an opening boot, and four opening doors with some of the most intricate window frames we’ve ever seen, Roland’s Lego 607 is definitely worth a closer look. You can see the fully gallery of images at his photostream by clicking on the link above, and we’ll leave you with one more shot capturing an inevitable moment in mid-2000s Peugeot ownership…

Lego Peugeot 607

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Art Lego

Lego 1939 Delahaye 136

France probably lays claim to our least favourite car in the looks department. The first generation Peugeot 308 was built at the very lowest point of French automobile design, being both painfully dull and yet somehow also managing to resemble a deep-sea fish that’s washed up on the shore.

Thankfully those dark days have passed as the French have re-discovered some of their joy de vivre, so we’re holding out hope that French car design can come full circle, and give us something like this again.

The fantastically luxurious 1939 Delahaye 136 was an utterly gorgeous machine, and probably took the art deco school of design further than any other car has ever managed. Sadly production was cut short by Hitler being a dick, and unfortunately post-war France then had no place for a vehicle manufacturer as opulent as Delahaye, with the brand quietly slipping away in the 1950s.

We remember when French design ruled the roads thanks to previous bloggee Lino Martins, who has recreated the Delayhaye 136’s incredible art deco shape beautifully in standard LEGO bricks. There’s more of his spellbinding creation to see at his photostream – click the link above to visit France circa 1939.

Lego Delahaye 136

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Gallic Garage

Lego Town Garage

This charming Town garage comes from newcomer brickbink of Flickr, and it is quite gloriously French. A Citroen 2CV van, Renault 4 (we think), and a baguette all add gallic authenticity, and there’s more to see at the link above.

Lego Town Garage

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French Fighter

Lego Dassault Rafale-M

This magnificent Dassault Rafale-M complete with carrier-deck was found on Flickr today. Previous bloggee Kenneth Vaessen is the builder and he’s recreated France’s current maritime fighter beautifully in brick-form.

Designed to replace France’s various military aircraft with a single multi-role fighter, the Rafale was introduced in 2001 and it’s been in action over Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan since, most notably launching strikes on the utter shitbags that are Daesh (otherwise known as Islamic State).

There’s lots more to see of Kenneth’s top-quality recreation of the French fighter at his Flickr photostream – click the link above to take off.

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