Journal: Enthusiast-Built LEGO Corvettes Are Much More Than Simple Toys

Enthusiast-Built LEGO Corvettes Are Much More Than Simple Toys

By Alex Sobran
May 15, 2017

When it comes to the automobile (and pretty much everything else), few things are maligned as much as cheap replicas—of cars, of wheel designs, of anything that’s been copied in terms of form but not function. The repulsed response to something like a set of 18” knock-off Torque Thrusts on an older muscle car is one that I personally think should be encouraged, but that’s not to say all imitations deserve ridicule.

Of course, buying some poorly constructed stand-in for the real deal is a pretty futile exercise (as they say, those who don’t know what you’re imitating don’t care, and those who do know don’t like it), though there is a distinct line to be drawn between tricks and tributes. A build sheet full of shoddy parts and shady copyrights won’t fool anyone knowledgeable, though there are ways to respectfully copy the original.

LEGOs are a perfect example of this. As you’re likely aware if you’re reading this far, the company has been releasing some pretty mind-boggling kits over the past few years. which, in their complexity and thoroughness, offer a chance to not only build your own Porsche GT3 for instance, but to also feel the frustrations of engineering such a thing, even on a small scale. The difficulty inherent in completing these kits is arguably the best part of the experience though, because it’s that rare form of recreation that not only respects what went into the original, but also requires one to work through a similar process. This is the difference between rip-offs and reimaginations: the work.

Every so often, I like to scan through the various builds hoping to become officially licensed-LEGO kits, and car creations are some of the most intriguing of the lot by far. There are endless generic “sports cars” that don’t warrant a second look, but hiding among these “originals” are some remarkable recreations displaying true creativity even though they ostensibly copy what already exists. This time, I’ve found a pair of ‘Vettes that could use your support; it’s a bit of a pain in the ass to create a LEGO account in order to vote on these, but if you want to support these builds and see more kids (and adults) building Stingrays instead of scenes from the latest Marvel movie money-machine, here’s your chance.

First up chronologically is this brick rendition of a 1963 Corvette C2 Stingray “Split window.” Clearly a master of the brick, James Tillson has faithfully rendered the infamous shape of the Stingray; the level of detail and accuracy on offer is astounding. Anything and everything iconic about the real car is present, and the miniature model even includes rotating headlight covers like the 1:1 scale version.

One look at Tillson’s YouTube channel confirms the talent that went into this Corvette was not a one-off, and so it should come as no surprise that this build is extremely accurate. Beginning with blueprints of the real car, the perfect proportions of the LEGO creation even manage to house the necessary pieces to give the little Stingray suspension and the ability to steer, pop its hood, open the doors, and even quickly transform into a convertible. It’s always a bonus when the pieces are functional, but the best aspect of this one is still far and away the faithful exterior look. Often LEGO cars are a combination of compromises, but this Corvette typifies what those others are striving for.

To complement the C2 above is this very well-done 1969 C3 Corvette build. Though many of the later cars from this generation are maligned for lacking the correspondent performance suggested by the dramatic styling—the Mako Shark II concept was relatively unfiltered into the C3’s production form—there were some genuinely quick third-gens early on, and this homage is a similar “best of the bunch.” I say that because rendering the aggressively curved and contoured form of this car using pieces that are predominantly polygons is a challenge that few have accepted and fewer have bested.

I mean, look at this thing, it’s perfect. The big sidepipes, shark gill venting behind the front wheels, removable T-tops, working pop-up headlights, complete interior, and the highly involved work on the car’s unique shark nose all add up to a full package that looks like something GM wished they’d licensed a long time ago. An especially nice touch too is the inclusion of the distinctively colorway; even the better LEGO cars often rely on third-party sticker and decals to achieve the full look, but on this car the striping is integrated with the actual makeup of the car.

These cars are projects built by individuals and are not for sale in stores, and while LEGO has for some reason decided not to produce the C3 shown above, the Stingray still has a chance of becoming a bonafide kit, and as such can still be voted on, as mentioned previously.

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Paul Ipolito
Paul Ipolito
6 years ago

Bravo! I wish the one in my garage looked as good.