Designing a Supercar II. – Starting a New Design

Designing a Supercar II. – Starting a New Design

In my article Designing a Supercar I. – Understanding the Basics, I talked about the basic knowledge every LEGO builder should know. And now we will finally get specific! I will show you step by step process how I had built the Lamborghini Veneno and the Bugatti Veyron in minifig scale. So let’s get started!

Get the Scale Right

First of all, you should ask yourself how big the perfect minifig scale car should be? The answer isn’t that simple and everybody has a different opinion on it. Older LEGO sets contained 4-wide cars and nowadays the standard is shifting to 6-wide with the introduction of Speed Champions cars. Some people like to build in odd numbers like 5-wide for smaller proportions or 7-wide usually to get two minifigs sit next to each other. 8-wide is simply too large unless you are building a monster truck or some American classic. So I would recommend going 6-wide simply because it’s much easier and most of the parts are designed with this in mind.

So how long and how high should a 6-wide supercar be? That really depends on the actual car you are building but from my experience, there are some good starting dimensions like starting moves in chess. I usually start by selecting the wheels and mudguard and determine the rest from there.

5-wheels-and-mudguards-combinations
5 different wheels and mudguards combinations

My favorite combinations are #3 or #4. I don’t like to use the Speed Champions wheels and mudguards simply because they are way too large for the minifig scale. The mudguards also force you to add one plate height on top of them which makes the car even more disproportional. #5 is also very interesting because it offsets the wheel vertically using brackets and lowers the overall height a little bit. I developed it for my Speed Racer Mach 5 build but ended up not using it because the car was still too large.

wheel-offset-technique
Wheel offset technique I developed while building Mach 5 from Speed Racer

The usual supercar uses the Speed Champions car base (30029) simply because it allows the minifig to sit closest to the ground. This reduces the overall height of the car. I also very rarely let the minifig sit straight. In most of my cars, they are almost lying, but you can still see them looking forward. So my advice is to put the minifig as low to the ground as possible.

The usual supercar also uses standard city scale mudguards (50745)  and  this makes it about 17-18 studs long:

  • 1-2 studs for the front bumper
  • 4 studs for front wheels
  • 5-6 studs distance between wheels
  • 4 studs for the rear wheels
  • and again 1-2 studs for the rear bumper

As you can see the Veyron has 5 studs between wheels while for the Veneno I went with 6 studs. Simply because it felt right for each of them. An ideal LEGO supercar should also be a little lower than a height of a minifig. The rule of thumb for supercars? The lower the better! This should bring you to the real world proportions as close as it gets. So a regular starting chassis would look something like this:

the-regular-chassis
The chassis I usually start any supercars with

What I usually do then is that I shift the base part one stud front or back (for front, mid or back engine cars) and put a minifig driver in. This makes me sure he can fit when I start adding other parts. Then I start to think about the windshield and things usually get complicated really quickly!

The Windshield Makes The Look

The windshield is pretty much always the biggest problem. There are lots of LEGO windshield parts but none of them is perfect or useable all the time. So I had developed a few of my own techniques. I use other LEGO parts which weren’t meant to be used as a windshield or I often try to angle the existing windshields somehow. Or use them vertically or even upside down. I had developed a special technique for the Veneno, which is not perfect but it sells the look of the car. But for the Veyron, I just used the regular Speed Champions windshield, because in this case, it works just fine.

windshield-building-techniques
Windshield building techniques

The important thing you want to get right from the beginning is the angle between the windshield and the hood. Especially on supercars like Lamborghinis or Ferraris, the windshield is almost a parallel extension of the hood and it begins right between the wheel arches. And this is also a big problem.  The mudguards I recommend to use are two studs wide and 3 plates high and usually get in the way everywhere. You can’t angle the hood correctly and also can’t put the windshield lower or angle it down. The other problem is that most of the windshields are 4-wide or 6-wide. But there is no part that would connect the 6-wide body with a 4-wide roof. This would be a super useful part e.g. for building something like the Countach or the Aventador. But it just doesn’t exist so you have to choose either 4 or 6-wide windshield and go with that.

Closing The Gaps

When you choose the right windshield and mudguards it’s time to build the rest of the car around them. I usually start to build the sides with brackets and SNOT techniques and then move to the front and rear section. But sometimes I move to the headlights and a front grill first. They are the other two most important things for almost any car. They were easy to build on the Veneno but very hard to build on the Veyron. My first idea was to use two trans clear cheese slopes for each headlight. But when I looked at the reference photos it struck me how big the headlights look when compared to the actual car. So I changed them to 1×2 trans clear plates which are resting on two headlight pieces. This offset technique is one of my favorite. It allows you to hide a portion of the headlight and make it even thinner than one plate. This makes any LEGO supercar look aggressive and fast.

For the hood, I always try to add only one plate over the mudguard pieces, sometimes two. But never more than that. Most of my front and rear bumpers also use SNOT techniques because this allows you to do the angles right. I also use tiles vertically to create a smoother look.

Then I try to close as many gaps as possible around the mudguards. As you can see I managed to close almost all of them on the Bugatti with 1×2 inverted slopes. But on the Lamborghini, it wasn’t possible so I had to leave some gaps there. I’m not happy when this happens, but again, this is just the price you have to pay to make the car low and small.

Sometimes you also have to simplify the look. On the Veyron, I had to use just two round rear lights instead of four. But I think it converts the look of the real car to the LEGO 6-wide build in the best possible way. The Veneno needed even more radical oversimplification. There is no roof because I used a special windshield in quite a strange angle. When I had tried to put tiles on it to represent the roof, it just didn’t look good at all. So I left the roof transparent. This could be possibly resolved with a sticker or a printed part. But as I already told you I’m a purist so I think the best solution is to leave it like this.

Conclusion

So as you have seen building a LEGO supercar in minifig scale is sometimes very hard. You just have to make some compromises and decide which things are essential for the final look of the car and which are not. With new Speed Champions parts coming up every year many things become easier. Many talented builders start to build better and better 6-wide supercars. Now it’s your turn to build your own. Every existing design can be revisited and upgraded. And there are soo many cars that nobody had built yet! For me, the biggest challenge is to build accurate 6-wide Lamborghini Aventador. But if it were easy, it wouldn’t be fun at all! That’s the best part of building any LEGO supercar. If you like my Lamborghini Veneno, you can build one using my video instructions on YouTube:

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