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Ford Mustang GT 350-H

December 23rd, 2017 Leave a comment Go to comments

Model of a classic 1965 muscle car. Features remotely controlled drive and steering, realistic suspension, 2-speed manual transmission, V8 piston engine with rotating radiator fan, adjustable seats, working steering wheel, removable body, openable hood, doors and trunk and custom stickers.

Datasheet:

Completion date: 22/12/2017
Power: electric (Power Functions)
Dimensions: length 55 studs / width 23 studs / height 16 studs
Weight: 1.769 kg
Suspension: front – double wishbone independent / rear – live axle
Propulsion: 2 x PF L motor via a 2-speed manual transmission (gear ratios: 4.2:1 and 1.4:1)
Motors: 2 x PF L, 1 x PF Servo

The Pony. A seemingly well-known car, models of which have been built by thousands upon thousands of LEGO builders. And yet it can surprise. The story of my model started when I happened upon a car showroom featuring an exquisite 1965 jet black Ford Mustang. Like most people, I lived with a conviction that Mustangs didn’t really matter until 1969, and I was proved wrong – the 1965 Pony was charmingly austere, simple, free from a whole number of additions, trinkets and experiments that happened to Mustangs in the following years. I fell in love with it immediately. And then, doing a research on pre-69 Mustangs, I came across what is commonly known as “Hertz Mustang”.

You see, back in 1965 somebody in the Hertz corporation, which is a really, really huge US car rental company, was insane enough to order a 1,000 of custom-built Shelby GT 350 Mustangs as cars for rent. What kind of a person thinks that it’s a good idea to hand the keys to a heavily tuned 300 HP racing car to just anybody with a driving license? Judge for yourselves. The point is that thus a very unique Mustang version was created: the GT 350-H, distinguished by its all-black livery with two golden stripes. I loved the livery and that was the car I wanted to build.


They say you can start growing chest hair just from looking at it 😉

As for the model itself, I wasn’t entirely happy with it as few parts of it looked wrong, because of the compromises that proved inevitable with the functionality I wanted to achieve. Hence I would classify it as a primarily Technic model, where looks are secondary to functions. That functionality included a compact chassis with a multitude of functions such as motorized drive and steering, a 2-speed manual transmission, realistic suspension, working steering wheel, adjustable seats and a V8 piston engine with a rotating radiator fan, driven by the propulsion motors bypassing the transmission, so that it could run on idle gear, just like a real engine. But more importantly, that functionality included a removable body. By pulling 4 pins at model’s bottom, it was possible to simply take the whole body off the chassis. The point, besides obviously making it easier to change batteries, was to allow the actual tuning of the car. You see, the common problem when building any larger car model is that you need to build the suspension and drivetrain without knowing model’s final weight. Personally, I find it difficult to precisely estimate the final weight, and I often had to fix a theoretically finished model because the suspension started sagging down or the propulsion system was too weak to drive. I was looking for a solution and this is it: the body can be taken off, and the chassis is built in a way that allows to easily swap front and rear shock absorbers for softer or harder ones, and even to change gear ratios in the transmission. In fact, I have been actively taking advantage of these possibilities while building the model.

Because of the model’s modest size, some compromises had to follow such a solution – and they were primarily aesthetic. Since the body had to be removable and stay together without the chassis, its sides could be only 1 stud thick and had to be built with bricks. Any fancy sculptures of angled plates, tiles and such were simply too thick and too fragile. The hood and the trunk were a little too high, because of the the V8 engine in front – somewhat oversized for this scale, in fact – and the PF battery box in the back. It would be possible to put both these elements lower and deeper in the chassis if there was no suspension – but I wanted a suspension, and I wanted it to be exactly like that in the real car (independent in front, live axle in the back). Finally, there was the roof, which I liked the least because if was too flat and too angular. To look accurate, it would need to be more convex sideways, with taller middle and lower, curved sides. But again, this would require a complex and very fragile system of angled plates and tiles, whereas with removable body the roof was actually a load-bearing structure and it helped to keep the body together. A more delicate roof structure would not be able to handle the necessary stress.

The things I liked about this model were possible largely thanks to the Chrome Block City. I really wanted to mimic the original black-and-gold livery as close as possible, and by working with Chrome Block City from the very start I was able to consider several options and pick the optimal one: metallic gold LEGO pieces. Metallic gold is an existing, but extremely rare LEGO color (just 53 types of pieces at the moment of this model’s completion), so I had regular LEGO pieces coated in metallic gold. These were then covered in my own custom-made, partially transparent stickers which split the central golden stripe in two and added markings to the sides. I really loved the final result, and I think it looked amazingly faithfully to the real livery. There was also a large number of custom chrome silver LEGO pieces used for bumpers, wheels and door details, all delivered by Chrome Block City too. I kept the engine block light gray and not silver chromed, though, because that seemed excessive. By the way, the engine was geared up significantly so that it would always run at high speed, thus making a noticeable, cool sound which can be heard in the video. I believe this was my very first case of building a model with a consideration for how it sounds 🙂

The model surely didn’t look perfect – because of so many elements stuffed in a compact chassis, some parts of the body ended up a little bloated and the slim lines of the real car were somewhat lost. Still, there were moments when I was driving it around a parking lot, when it looked strikingly like a real Mustang from a distance. Also, I have achieved all the functionality I was aiming for, and I was happy to try something new rather than stick to safe repetitions of things I’ve already tried. Finally, you can see a LEGO minifigure on some of the photos. It’s not directly related to the model, but it’s a figure I came across while browsing Bricklink during my work on the model, and it amused be because it looked just like the kind of person who would drive a 1965 Mustang today. The nature of that minifigure just seemed like a perfect match for the nature of this model, so I ended up buying the minifigure and putting it on some photos.

Note: there are plans to release building instructions for this model commercially as a printed book later in 2018.

Work in progress photos:

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Photos:

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Video:

Media coverage:

Bricks On The FloorIl Mattoncino Danese (Italian), The Brothers Brick, The Lego Car Blog

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