Lego blocks have been used for many purposes, from recreating historical milestones to building complicated models of real-world architecture, but never have Legos been used to build what two men have recently made public – a full-sized hot rod car made entirely of Legos that runs on air and is completely drivable.
The designers of the Lego car, Steve Sammartino, an Australian entrepreneur, and Romanian Lego expert Raul Oaida, 20, met each other on the Internet. After joining forces, they set forth on a mission to design a car made almost entirely of Legos, including the engine. Building the car, that travels at a top speed of 12-17 mph, took more than 500,000 Legos. Due to the fragile nature of the construction, higher speeds are not possible with the Lego car.
According to Sammartino, the initial concept for the car came from his belief that the concept of what cars could be had become too narrow. “(I wanted) to do something interesting that shows there are a myriad of possible innovations for cars. We wanted to be an example to open peoples minds… something the car industry needs,” he says.
The car project was started in April 2012, shortly after the two men launched a space shuttle made of Legos, when Sammartino tweeted the idea for the Lego car. His tweet resulted in project funding in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars from 40 interested entrepreneurs, who were given a prospectus that warned that the investors would receive no financial return for the project, described as “high risk.” The initial estimated cost of building a car entirely of Legos that runs on air and is drivable was $25,000.00.
He also mentioned in a section marked The Benefits: “Prepare for global awareness of this project in days after it has been completed.”
The project, called the Super Awesome Micro Project, lasted 20 months from the beginning idea and the design to the final product. Only a few structural items, consisting of wheels, tires, some load-bearing components and gauges, were used. The rest of the car was built using 500,000 Legos. The engine itself, which runs on compressed air, is comprised of four orbital engines that are made with 256 Lego pistons. The hubcap logos are made of Legos as well.
The biggest challenge Sammartino and Oaida faced while building the car was the construction of the engine and fine-tuning the gearing, as, according to Sammartino, “It is very tough to hold the torque.”
The car was constructed in Romania and shipped to a secret facility in Melbourne, Australia where it was tested on suburban streets. Although damage during shipping occurred and some of the Legos warped from fluctuating temperatures, Oaida was able to repair the car.
The men behind the Lego car have no real plans for the hot rod, but rumor has it that Jay Leno is interested in buying the car. Sammartino and Oaida will also entertain offers to bring it to car shwos for display.
Sammartino and Oaida, who recently received an Australian visa, are finished with Lego projects for now but continue to work together on other ideas. For sheer “wow” value, it will be hard for them to top a full-size car made entirely of Legos that runs on air and can be driven.
By Jennifer Pfalz