Here's how they made the Lego Peugeot Le Mans car
The bold looks of the 9X8 have inspired toymakers and artists alike
Peugeot returned to the highest category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. But with the more successful of its two 9X8 racecars finishing in eighth place, perhaps its biggest glory of the weekend was off the track, where a team of Lego master builders spent 24 hours making a 1:1 scale tribute to the 9X8. With many of Le Mans’ 325,000 spectators looking on. Talk about pressure…
A fun stunt, sure, but one with a higher purpose – drawing attention to the 1:10 Lego Peugeot 9X8 us normal folk can build audience-free at home. "We were inspired by Peugeot’s design," says Lego Technic designer Kasper Hansen, effectively the toy 9X8’s father. "It’s so different from every other Le Mans racer."
Indeed, it was Lego who made the first move. "We saw the car starting to appear online and immediately liked it," Kasper tells us. "Peugeot sent us the 3D files and we got to work, but we didn’t have any idea what colour it would be. We were doing everything in black."
Kasper and his team then got an invite to the real 9X8’s development at Magny Cours circuit, meeting its engineers and drivers. "Seeing the car in pictures doesn’t compare to having it next to you – especially with the aerodynamics on the 9X8 [and its famed lack of rear wing]. You see all the small details and come away with ideas of how to make the model even better."
So what’s the biggest challenge in turning a complex hybrid Le Mans car into a functioning Technic toy? "The suspension was tough. The 9X8 is pushrod at the front and pullrod at the rear; to get the rear mechanism right took maybe 20-25 different builds. We’d show Peugeot different options to work out how to get closest to the real car."
Shaping the doors and bodywork with existing Technic pieces was also tough, as was scaling the car down without losing its vivid proportions. But as Kasper’s first car, it’s also the culmination of a childhood dream. "I started playing with Technic when I was six years old," he grins. "I didn’t do Duplo or standard Lego, I went straight in with Technic. When this job came up it was like 'is this really happening?' It’s been amazing to be a part of this project – I’m so proud."
The 9X8’s unique styling didn’t just get Lego on the phone, though – it inspired an art car. Peugeot raced at Le Mans’ 100th anniversary event with a livery inspired by its glorious (and victorious) 905 racecar from the Nineties, whose red, yellow and blue Peugeot Talbot Sport colour scheme was reimagined by artist J. Demsky. Whose usual palette is helpfully Talbot-y, it turns out.
"The shape was really interesting to work with," Demsky confirms to TopGear.com. "Since beginning the 9X8 project we wanted something super special for Le Mans this year," adds Peugeot design chief Matthias Hossann. "Working with Demsky on this vibrant Nineties look was perfect."
Peugeot has since confirmed the livery will stick around for the rest of the 2023 World Endurance Championship. What chance a special 1:10 sticker set, Lego?
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