By on August 5, 2015

Sajeev’s hot take on the Lego F40? Unclean! Abomination! We don’t need no studs in our Italian stallions. The blocky limitations of Lego have bricked Pininfarina’s flow, making a supermodel’s curves about as sexy as Samus Aran in her NES bikini.

I just finished putting together this thing and I disagree entirely. Judged as an accurate representation of the breed? Who cares? Here, the medium is the message.
F40 - BM (2)

If you’re like me, the F40 and Lego are both part of your early childhood, as is a somewhat nostalgic tug at an over-pixellated graphic representation. Truth be told, I always preferred the 959 in Test Drive II, but while Porsche’s all-wheel-drive supercar was a harbinger of the future, the Ferrari represented something of a last gasp of the dangerous supercar. Never mind that it’s now eclipsed in speed, the F40 still basks in that childhood glow. (The 288 GTO is probably a better connoisseur’s choice, but never mind.)


Lego and Ferrari have come together in the past, thanks to a shared partnership with Shell Oil stretching back a half-century in little Danish Bricks. However, something different is happening here. In the past decade or so, Lego has moved from creative playset to mass-market licensing machine. There is nothing they won’t render in bricks, always assuming there’s a way to trademark it to keep the copycats at bay. The patent on the Lego Brick itself has been dead for several years, so the only thing differentiating the brand is its ability to clamp on to the likes of Simpsons, Minecraft, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Marvel, you-name-it, and car brands are part of the Borg-like assimilation. McLaren, Porsche, and Ferrari are all now available in brick form, reproduced in plastic by a brand whose power now likely eclipses any car maker.

F40 - BM (1)

I also own a Kyosho F40, and while parking it next to the Lego representation highlights any number of flaws, you have to admit that the designers that put together the Lego version got a lot right. Of the eight NACA ducts on the car, only two are stickers. The engine is removable, everything opens, and the multi-stepped rear louvered glass isn’t a single piece.

Assembling it is a delight, as there are all sorts of interesting tricks to get details like the slightly-angled flanks to work. It’s also a fairly robust design – fifteen minutes of play in the hands of my near-three-year-old and only the rear wing seems likely to break. If it does break, you can simply put it back together.

So here’s where I think the flaw in Mr. Mehta’s lack of appreciation of the Lego F40 lies: the joy of this thing is not in accuracy, but in interpretation. Building it evokes the muscle memory of making your own models as a kid. You don’t gain appreciation for the works of the Italian designers, but get a glimpse into what the Danish team was trying to do as they struggled to get everything to fit.

F40 - BM (4)
Further, and I think this is important, the Lego F40 differs from diecast in that it’s not a static display. The reasons to buy one are in the build and perhaps a brief display, but I have no intention of letting this thing gather dust on a shelf the way my 1:18th scale cars do. Instead, it’ll be smashed to its constituent pieces in a few months, broken apart so that the swiftly-growing next generation can make furniture out of it or whatever.

Like childhood, it’s a fleeting thing. A hundred bucks for a trip in a time machine? Bargain.

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10 Comments on “Vellum Venom Antidote: In Defense of the Lego F40...”

  • avatar

    Much better! Sajeev took too many cynic pills today.

    I’ll pull the steering wheel cover off and make it into a tie pin. Boom! Ebay $225.

  • avatar

    Accuracy be damned…it’s the interpretation and PROCESS of putting one together that intrigues me. I’ve already alerted family as to “future Christmas present” status of this! Now if they’d make a decent BMW 2002 version (should be easier, given how much of a block it already is!)…

  • avatar

    Best post on TTAC in a few months. So much right with this.

    • 0 avatar

      +1, I also wonder if either Brendan or Sajeev have looked at/assembled the original Mini Cooper (in British Racing Green) that came out a year ago or so. That was an interesting build and was pretty close to the original.

      • 0 avatar

        That was a good build, but I didn’t find it nearly as engaging as the F40 build. I’ve worked a bonkers amount of time the past 2 months (4 days off in the past 51). I started building the F40 one night after getting my daughter to bed and my wife turned in knowing I had the next day off. I decided I was just going to build the engine. By 2:00AM, I’d finished the engine and chassis and was very tempted to stay up to finish the rest. It was such a fun build that I didn’t want to stop.

        I thought the wheels were a great touch, too. That was a custom piece that they did for this set.

  • avatar

    Thank you! You have pointed out how Lego is incomparable with 1:18 scale diecasts, regardless of subject matter. I would be infinitely more likely to purchase a Lego F40 than a diecast F40, because one is Lego and the other is not.

    Granted, if I was a die-hard F40 fan, then I’d have to buy one of each. I wouldn’t complain that the Lego version wasn’t a perfect replica though.

  • avatar

    It’s an F40 interpreted in the standard-pieces world of Lego, not a Lego replica of an F40. You want visual accuracy, buy a 1:8 Tamiya die-cast or a 1:24 plastic kit.

  • avatar

    I want to build the Maersk Triple E!

  • avatar

    Oh come on, this thing is darn accurate. Did you know that you can even do an engine-out service on it? Then entire V8 comes out!

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