Monday, September 24, 2012

TBs TechReview 18 – Concept Car, by Nathanaël Kuipers

You certainly know one of the best LEGO Technic Supercars that TLG ever released, the classic 8448, Super Street Sensation, aka Super Car Mk II.

Somewhat inspired on this one, Nathanaël Kuippers (former LEGO Designer) developed in 2008 a Concept Car [1, 2], aka as 88448, in the form of a Roadster and with a more modern aesthetics. He tried to build it in separate modules and as end result, engine, gearbox, front suspension, rear suspension and bodywork can all be removed. V12 engine can be put in the front or in the rear (like in 8448) and one can select among front wheel or rear wheel drive.

One year later (2009) he added two other variants built with the same chassis (a Gullwing Door and one Convertible) and later he made it evolve into a Concept Jeep (2010) - Using the same V12 engine and 5+R gearbox, and leaving most of the frame untouched, the model went through a makeover to turn into this Concept 4x4 [3, 4] with AWD and independent suspension.

This "review" does not intend to be a technical review from the model itself, but instead to complement what was already done before and better show the model, the several variants created by Nathanaël and how the model transforms from one into another.

For the pure Technical analysis on this model, you may read the excellent reviews done by Anio about one year ago, at Eurobricks and the automatic english translation from SeTechnic.

I built this model months ago following the BI prepared by Joshua Delahunty (which are available from Crowkillers website), and got amazed with the clean and well engineered design of this model.
Every part seems to enter in the perfect place and it is used to take the most of its potential.
Now that we have newer Technic panels, the older ones used with this model still look amazing and guess no one could think about changing them for this car.

At the time I spoke with Nathanaël, and we decided to try exchanging the necessary information to build the other variants (Gullwing Doors an Convertible). And so did I!

Let's start with the Roadster version, as built per Joshua's BI (below the front and rear views).

Yeah! I know... I should buy a wireless remote control for my camera... In fact I already ordered one from eBay!

Carefully removing some of the rear elements and replacing them with the well designed convertible roof module, we can change the Roadster into a stunning Convertible car.

From the left to the right: The parts to remove; How the rear will look like in between; And the elements to include for the Convertible variant.
You may click on the images to enlarge them and see the details you might be interested in.

Across the design of the several variants, there were a few things that Nathanaël tried to do in different ways. One of them was the rear lights, which we see here to change from one design to another. The reason for trying these different designs was in this case how rare and the exaggerated prices that the trans-red 2x2 round bricks (3941), became at BrickLink. You will see these changing again ahead, as I've used them in fixed combinations for the several car variants.
There were however some other different attempts that Nathanaël also did (e.g. the colors with the headlights and colors of parts in some other areas).

After the parts substitution, there is now a Technic connector in the rear, above the registration plate, that closes and opens the roof  with a few turns.

Initially I had some difficulties to make the roof to fit perfectly and nicely into place when retracted. But after pushing some bricks here and there to make very small adjustments, it turned to be a fully working and very reliable design.

This is the only variant that doesn't allow to setup the V12 engine in the rear compartment, like it is possible to do with the Roadster and Gullwing variants (besides not shown in this post). The space required for the engine is in this case fully used by the roof retractile mechanism.

Now lets' transform this into a Gullwing Door variant.

From the left to the right: Remove the convertible roof module; Remove the driver and passenger doors; How the mode will look like in between; And the elements to include for the Gullwing variant.

It is amazing how such complex modules (Convertible Roof and Gullwing Doors) can be exchanged with minimal changes to the car. Everything was carefully handcrafted, to make it fit and work perfectly. The gullwing doors can be opened individually via one pair of 12t double bevel gears just behind the car's roof. These are not in the best position to handle manually, but I also do not have a better idea...

There is a pleasant color contrast between the body (all red) and the interior (mostly gray), which pops out when the Gullwing doors get fully open. But of course this is not unique to this variant.

And finally, let's see how to go back to the Roadster concept design,

From the left to the right: Remove the Gullwing Doors module; How the model will look like in between; And the elements to include in order to make it return again to the Roadster variant.

Now you can also do all the way back (Roadster > Gullwing Doors > Convertible > Roadster). You just need to undo all the steps above, by removing now all the modules that were added, and adding those removed in reversed order...
These steps include all the transition combinations not shown above and are pretty straight forward.

Now one final note for the 5+R gearbox present in this model. It was built to be just like any another module that fits in place when needed, and indeed it does perfectly.
As far as I can tell, this was the first studless version of the same gearbox used by LEGO in its 8448 and  8466 4x4 Off-Roader models, thus using the same gear ratios (1.66:1; 1.50:1; 1:1; 0.90:1; 0.60:1; -2.50:1) and suffering from the same pros and cons. It was however a remarkable achievement and very well done!
Later on, Crowkillers made his own studless design of the same classic LEGO gearbox for his own cars, to then develop a full new transmission concept with more natural gear ratios (but that's another story...).

Next weekend Nathanaël and I, with a bunch of other AFOLs, will attend the LEGO Fan Weekend at Skaebaek (Denmark) and I'm sure it will be a big fun for everyone.
Both of us will have a copy of the concept car at the exhibition, and I will have with me all the parts required to make the transformations above. So the visitors will be able to see any of the versions functioning live, if they will.

Likely I will take there some footage to prepare and later add here, one video of this amazing car.
Subscribe to the TBs Youtube Channel, and you will automatically get notice when the video comes out.


crowkillers said...

Nice Overview..! This is most certainly one the best(If not the best) Technic designs ever done...

I wish that I could have attended the event with you guys, that without a doubt would have been one of the coolest experiences of my life...

TechnicBRICKs said...

Someday we will do it Paul! ;)

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