A recent visit with our daughter in Germany ended with a weekend at the Schwiezerhof, a lake-front hotel on the Haldenstrasse, the main drag in Lucerne, Switzerland. Turns out that on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Haldenstrasse turns into the Swiss version of a strip -- you know, a stretch of busy city street where folks with hot cars (real or imagined) parade up and down with as much noise as possible (exhaust or otherwise) to draw attention to their prized possessions.
Only in Lucerne, the cars strutting their stuff weren't the typical American fare of Mustangs, Camaros, blacked-out gangsta SUVs, would-be monster trucks, low-riders, and 4-cylinder Japanese imports with over-sized spoilers and fart-can mufflers. Nosiree, they were Bugattis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, an occasional Dodge Viper, and exotic Mercedes and BMW sportscars I've never seen in the US. And they were out in droves -- to the tune of several million bucks a minute for the better part of Saturday afternoon. This extraordinary spontaneous gathering of real supercars made it quite clear that not all of the money in Switzerland stays couped up in bank vaults.
The inspiration for my 8070 Supercar makeover made its first appearance on Sunday as we were eating lunch on the hotel veranda: A drop-dead gorgeous Ferrari 599 GTO in white with black accents. I nearly dropped my fork. It was love -- or at least lust -- at first sight.
∨ I didn't have a camera at the time but did manage to get the papparazzi shot below when the 599 returned to the hotel that evening. (That's it at left center.)
The wife having put a firm kabosh on a white 599 in our garage, I could think of only one outlet for my new-found unrequited love -- a makeover of the red 8070 in my office in a similar black-on-white color scheme. It took almost 2 months to gather up the necessary white parts (some of which turned out to be quite rare) and more than a little head-scratching to find acceptable workarounds for the original parts never made in white -- most notably, the 19L flexible axles originally outlining the wheel wells.
∧ My best workaround for the front wheel well outlines combined a 12L flexible axle -- the longest available in white -- with two white #3 angled connectors. The bad news: There are precious few of the latter to be had on BrickLink. The good news: Thanks to an unexpected breakdown in the law of supply and demand, they're usually under $0.25 each.
About the Ferrari 599 GTO
Ogle the 599 photos here and especially here, and you'll quickly see that the 8070 bears more than a little resemblance. Of course, aerodynamic and mechanical realities impose a great deal of convergent evolution on supercars this fast, but the 599 would seem to be as good a candidate as any for the inspiration behind LEGO®'s original 8070 design.
When introduced in 2010 (a year before LEGO® rolled out the 8070), the 599 was the fastest "road-going" model in Ferrari history, and not just in a straight line. Its 6.0L (366 cu. in.) V-12 put out a whopping 493 kW (661 HP) at 8,250 RPM and 620 Nm (457 lb-ft) of torque at 6,500 RPM. In a car as light as the 599 (curb weight 1,608 kg or 3,538 lb), that's good for 0-100 kph (0-62 mph) in 3.35 s and 0-200 kph (0-124 mph) in 9.8 s. Ferarri claims a top speed of over 334 kph (208 mph).
Supercars are designed to do 3 things extraordinarily well: (i) Go fast as all getout in grand style, (ii) make occupants look as cool as possible, and (iii) leave everyone else wondering what they're doing wrong. The 599 certainly fills the bill.
As usual, one thing led to another. My 8070 had been begging to be motorized for both propulsion and steering since before it came out of the box, and this seemed as good a time as any. By the time the dust had settled, the following changes had been made:
Changed exterior color scheme from all red to white with black accents.
Filled in hood and sloped it forward slightly for a more realistic profile.
Enlarged tail lights (a distinct departure from the 599).
Redesigned front bumper and front and rear wheel well outlines to work around the lack of suitably colored original parts.
Made many other minor exterior cosmetic changes.
Converted the chassis to black wherever possible without a complete tear-down.
Replaced fake engine under hood with L motor for propulsion and revised drivetrain accordingly.
Put steering on the distribution transmission output originally used for hood operation and regeared steering to improve responsiveness.
Converted the manual input for steering to hood operation and put the knob below the rear bumper.
Replaced the original AA battery box with an easily accessed AAA box behind the rear panel.
Added IR remote control.
Replaced the original LBG 56 x 34 mm 3-hole wheels (44772) with their shiny black 6-hole equivalents (15038).
Added detailed transversely mounted V6 midships.
Added detailed dashboard.
Made rear wing linkages lighter and less conspicuous and re-routed power to rear wing with a chain drive running behind the left rear wheel.
Beefed up the chassis here and there -- especially up front to hold L motor torque reactions in check.
Below is the resulting 8070 Supercar makeover. I think it's a good bit better-looking than the red original -- in part because from most angles, the inevitable gaps between body panels come off a little more like features and a little less like bugs. (This illusion is more apparent in the flesh than in the photos shown here). The makeover's also a lot of fun to drive on hard, flat surfaces.
What was retained
The original 8070 design is pretty hard to beat. IMO, it has few if any stylistic peers among official Technic sets, and the mechanicals are well above average (though certainly not in the same league as those of the 8043 Motorized Excavator). Accordingly, the following original features saw little or no change other than color:
Overall exterior size and form.
Basic frame and suspension designs.
Drivetrain between engine compartment and rear wheels.
Distribution transmission (kept in red only out of laziness).
Gull-wing doors and associated mechanisms.
Retractable rear wing (but with substantial redesign of associated mechanisms).
Tires (68.8 x 36 ZR, 44771).
NB: Please pardon all the dust and tiny fibers picked up at Denver Comic Con 2 weeks ago. I'll clean it up and reshoot as time permits.
Photos and text
∨ The next 8 photos provide an overview of the makeover, in most cases, with the rear wing retracted.
∧ As you can see, I completely did away with the original red-dominated exterior palette in favor of white with black accents, gave the hood a slight forward slope for a more realistic profile, and filled in the large hole in its center. As noted above, the wheel well outlines also had to be revised, as 19L flexible axles have never been made in white. The added IR receiver peeks up through the roof behind the seats.
∧ View from above for scale. The light-colored tiles were 305 mm (12 in) squares before corner cuts.
∧ Undercarriage in full.
∧ Closer look at the propulsion L motor under the hood. The gear train connecting it to the rear wheels, entirely hidden here, consists of (i) a series of five 16z spurs collectively transmitting power around rather than through the distribution transmission, and (ii) a terminal 20-tooth double bevel meshing with the 28-tooth ring on the rear differential body. The final speed ratio is therefore a very modest reduction of 1.4:1.
Though I made no explicit effort to optimize motor shaft speed at maximum vehicle speed (as I did, for example, with my motorized prop-cart), this motor-final ratio combination gave the makeover a better-than-average top speed for a PF vehicle and more than adequate acceleration to boot. In contrast, the car bogged down unacceptably from lack of torque with an M motor at 1.4:1. With an XL motor at that ratio, the car had no shortage of torque but top speed suffered even more -- this time due to the XL's very low speed.
This kind of performance lends further support to my view of the L as the most versatile motor ever produced by LEGO®. In fact, it's become my motor of choice for all but the hardest-working of PF models and especially for land vehicles and speedboats. Its high torque for size and broad power band (see Philippe Hurbain's 9V LEGO® motor page for details) make it the motor to beat in most applications, and the mounting opportunities it provides far exceed those of any other LEGO® motor. Compared to the M motor, it's a bit of a power hog, but you get what you pay for.
∧ I feel no need to do so, but it wouldn't be hard to change the final drive ratio to 2.33:1, 1:1.19, or 1:2.15 at the rearmost pair of 16z spurs (near the center of the photo above). Elmininating the red seen here would have required a complete tear-down of the model.
∧ Close-up of the steering gear train.
∧ Front suspension is almost stock.
∧ The rear end flips up for easy access to the AAA battery box. A pair of 3L pins with bushes secure the battery door for travel.
∧ The original LBG 56 x 34 mm 3-hole wheels (44772) were initially replaced with black ones of the same type, but the latter come only in a very dull matte finish that seemed a bit too utilitarian for a car like this. I like these shiny black 6-hole equivalents (15038) a lot better.
∧ Wheel well details. Getting an acceptable 3D curvature up front took a great deal of tinkering with various mounting options. Ditto for the largely redesigned front bumper.
∧ I added nearly all of dashboard details seen in the 2 photos above. Why the plunger? Well, sooner or later, you're gonna scare the crap out of yourself or your passenger in a car like this, but not to worry: The seats are equipped with small personal toilets (not shown) that may need unclogging from time to time during long, mad dashes through the Swiss Alps.
∧ I made no internal changes to the distribution transmission (the mostly red structure at left center above) but reallocated the output originally used for hood operation to motorized steering. The hood is now operated manually via the black knob projecting to the right from the rear of the car.
∧ Removing the original AA battery box made almost enough room for both its AAA replacement and a transversely mounted V6 engine.
∧ To get the last bit of room needed for the V6, rotary power to the retractable rear wing had to be re-routed via a chain drive inboard of the left rear wheel.
∧ The disproportionately thick liftarms used for the original rear wing linkages were replaced with thin ones. While I was at it, I re-engineered the linkage lengths for smoother operation.
Table of features and stats
484 x 202 x 124 mm (LxWxH) excluding IR receiver (rear wing retracted)
1.55 kg (3.4 lb)
Studded front grille, headlights, rear door jams, and engine; otherwise studless
LEGO® Supercar, Technic set 8070 (2011)
Scale relative to Ferrari 599 GTO:
1:9.7 in length and width; 1:10.7 in height
4x2x2 with rear wheel drive and mid-frame engine
Independent double-wishbone all around
4-output distribution to steering and operation of doors and retractable rear wing
L motor driving rear wheels with 1.4:1 final reduction
2 in all -- 1 L for propulsion, 1 M powering distribution transmission
IR receiver connections:
2 -- 1 for each motor
7.2V AAA battery box with rechargeable NiMH cells
Modified LEGO® parts:
Entirely original makeover of the already-classic 8070
those who have never done a remake of a model in another color don't know how time-intensive it is. Great job. I wish TLG would be a little more creative in the the colors they use in their supercars. This looks great!