Featured: We Asked A LEGO Designer How They Created The Ford GT and GT40 Models

We Asked A LEGO Designer How They Created The Ford GT and GT40 Models

By Andrew Golseth
December 12, 2016

Photos courtesy of LEGO

If you’re a LEGO fan (who isn’t?), you’re likely familiar with the petrolhead aimed brick line dubbed Speed Champions. So far, LEGO has teamed up with Audi, Chevrolet, McLaren, Porsche, Ferrari, and Ford to bring youngsters and us brick loving adults an impressive lineup of bricked speed machines.

When we saw LEGO’s latest Ford GT and GT40 combo set, we had to get the lowdown on these Le Mans legends turned brick. So, we rang up our good friend and LEGO Design Manager Craig Callum for the inside scoop.

Andrew Golseth: Craig, great to have you back on Petrolicious. Let’s talk about the Ford/LEGO partnership. You guys have already done the new Mustang GT, Raptor, and Model A hotrod, who made the call to add the Le Mans set GT40 and new GT?

Craig Callum: I think quite early on in the partnership with Ford we decided that, of course, the GT40 is a car we had to do. Then, when we heard the rumors that a new GT was on its way, we kept hassling them [Ford] but they wouldn’t reveal any details.

Then finally we started to see images and of course they announced the Le Mans car. From that moment, we knew we had to do it. I mean, it’s just a fantastic looking car and teaming it up with the GT40, these two iconic vehicles, we had to do it.

AG: It’s a wonderful looking set. So, was this strategically timed with the Ford 50th anniversary Le Mans victory or did it just happen to work out that way?

CC: Well, it worked well knowing Ford was returning to Le Mans for their 50th anniversary win, but it was really their timing we worked with more than anything. We were just lucky enough to be able to work with it during their return.

We obviously hoped to have the set completed to have it ready on the day of the race but the development of these things can take a little bit longer than expected sometimes. Getting information from Ford early, well you know getting information from any car company early isn’t so easy. (laughs). With the 50th anniversary, it was a fantastic time for them to return to Le Mans and even better to come away with the class win, which really worked great for our play concept of old vs. new. When we initially teased this set, we announced it as a gift to Ford as part of a “welcome back”. It was just great timing. We were happy to be there and to be a part of it in our own small way, a very small way. (laughs)

AG: Very cool. What was the design process? Did you guys start with the classic GT40 or the new GT?

CC: We started with the GT40. It’s a car that we’ve been secretly building in our office since we’ve partnered with Ford. It’s always been a car we knew we needed to have in the line. The GT came a little bit later after we heard the rumors and finally started to see images of the car.

We have car guys here at the Lego Design Studio that are building these kind of cars full time anyways. So, whenever we come up and say, “Alright, we need to do this car,” we can normally find four or five different concept examples that people around the studio have built already.

Obviously with the GT40, we needed to do a lot of work. We introduced Ford to the model and they had a few bits and pieces to say about it. Especially the original, the Bruce McLaren Le Mans winning car.

There are 10 to 15 car guys in the studio that are always designing different cars, but in terms of the design team it’s actually four people. Everyone on the team will have a go at the concept model. The GT40 was kind of my baby that I really wanted to get my hands on. Although I don’t build much these days, I made sure I had a go at the GT40. Most of the team has worked on it at some point.

The GT40, it’s one of those cars that you admire for a long time. Even now, after seeing one in the flesh a few times, it still impresses me. The history and the story behind it, it just blows you away.

AG: It’s certainly one of the most iconic racecars. When will the LEGO Speed Champions GT40 and GT set be available?

CC: The global release date for both cars is March 1st 2017. The set itself will be the Ford GT and the Ford GT40. We wanted to include both icons because we wanted to be able to tell the whole story to kids. It’s not just buying into the historic car, you get the new car and the old car. So you really get the complete Ford GT story. It’s super cool.

In the kit you get both cars, two drivers, a support guy with a checkered flag, a first second third place podium, and a big gold trophy as well. The cars are around 150 pieces each.

AG: I’m looking forward to picking the set up in March. The Speed Champions line has built up a nice little collection now—can we look forward to future sets being added?

CC: Yes, the Speed Champions line will be continuing into 2017. There are other vehicles coming, so it’s not just the Ford GT and GT40. There will be some other vehicles and brands and we’ll be announcing those between now and then. We really like to mix it up so whenever we do a classic car, we like to balance it with a new car as well. It’s very much about that mix of new and old.

For 2017 we’re really focusing on the development and design of vehicles. The 2017 lineup is mainly more modern cars. The GT40 is the real heritage item. With Speed Champions it’s all about offering the most iconic cars and racecars out there. It’s the cars we’re interested in as well. We have tons more coming and as long as there are cool vehicles, we’ll be building them.

AG: That’s great to hear the lineup will be growing—I’ve got some vacant shelf space. Any favorite aspects of the Ford GT40 and GT build?

CC: The build of the cars are very unique—they’re really clever. They’re a testament to the design team talent. The Ford GT is possibly the best example of that. If you think of the real car, some of the shapes involved in creating that car, trying to replicate it with LEGO bricks is a real challenge. The complexity of the build reflects that. The GT40, the silhouette of that vehicle is really strong and so iconic. Making sure we got that right was very important.

AG: Being a longtime LEGO builder myself, I’ve got to ask, were there any new pieces developed for these cars?

CC: No. With the Speed Champions line we really keep to pretty standard LEGO bricks. You could probably find the majority of these bricks in your box at home. You could build these yourself, and that’s what it’s all about. When we build, say this Ford GT/GT40 set, there are no bricks here that are unique to either of the vehicles or any of the Speed Champions vehicles we’ve done previously.

Sometimes, the colors of the bricks are unique and the decals are unique to the set to make sure we’ve got the livery right. But the bricks we use are completely generic and I think that’s the strength of this line. We don’t want to create a Ford GT, we want to create a LEGO Ford GT. It should give you that pride of creating it yourself with these very standard bricks.

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Andrew Winn
Andrew Winn
7 years ago

The GT made a name for itself in the 1960s, and the nameplate returned to Ford for the 2005 and 2006 models. Since then, the vehicle has truly evolved into a supercar, evident by it’s $100,000+ price tag.
The company has made some changes to the third-generation GT, prioritizing handling and track capabilities in their 2017 model. The result? Not only one of Ford’s most impressive cars ever, but perhaps one of the most innovative cars to ever be released. For more information about the 2017 Ford GT Specs checkout http://2017fordgtcar.com/2017-ford-gt-specs-features/

Johannes Oppitz
Johannes Oppitz
7 years ago

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