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25/07/2016

Brick work

Lego designers spent a year researching and developing every detail of the Ferrari F40

It was at last year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed that I first heard that a new Ferrari F40 was on its way. Only this time the mighty 300km/h-plus supercar was to be created by Lego.

 

This wasn’t the first time our favourite car manufacturer had formed an allegiance with the world’s best known construction toy. In fact, this was to be the 42nd set to carry the Prancing Horse badge. The difference was that this time we were looking at a large-scale, fully detailed set made for display, their most exciting project yet. How does one giant global brand go about re-creating an iconic product of another?

Lego bricks ready to be tested and packaged  Photo: Alex Howe

Six months later, I’m chatting with one of the F40 Lego model’s lead designers, Mike Psiaki. An established figure within the company, Psiaki has been designing Creator sets for the past three-and-a-half years.

 

Why was the F40 chosen? ‘We wanted to build on the existing line of collectable Lego cars, to push the line a little bit. Is it just classic cars that people have a fond memory of? Can we do modern cars? Can we do more aggressive cars?’

 

There was only one company to turn to. ‘We thought Ferrari was naturally a really good partner that would help us to extend the boundaries and the F40 was, by far, the best option to achieve this, while still staying true to the idea of the classic car.’

 

Just like its counterparts at Ferrari Design, Lego adopts a team approach to everything it does. ‘We don’t try to take credit from here or there and that is really the case with this model. There was a Lego designer working on the F40 before me who, essentially, decided the size and basic proportions. From there I took it through to the detail development.

 

'My role was taking it through the various steps to make sure the model was true to the original and it was something that Ferrari was happy with.’

Pieces of the F40 model, waiting to be assembled

The desire for reaching perfection is as high at Lego as it is at Ferrari. Working with more than 500 source pictures, every angle and contour of the F40 was examined and two new moulds (pieces) developed for production.

 

Authenticity was vital: five-spoke rims were created from scratch and a new windscreen piece was commissioned. Surely Lego already had windscreens? ‘We developed the new windscreen trapezoid piece because our existing portfolio included old designs, essentially created for trucks, so it was a bit of a stretch to put one on to a Ferrari and then say that this was accurate.’

 

Really, this model is a work of art: the beautifully detailed V8 engine, bucket seats, five-spoke rims, brake discs, slatted rear window and even the trademark flip-up lights.

 

Psiaki is hugely proud of the finished product. ‘I really feel like we managed to get in all the details. When I look at the car and then look at the model there is nothing that I look at and then say, “Oh, I wish we could have gotten that in.”’