Shelby Posts

We Built a List of the 14 Coolest Lego Car Kits Ever!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The earliest Lego blocks did not lend themselves to building vehicles. In fact, wheels were kind of an afterthought at first. But as different size wheels and tires became available, all you needed to build an awesome car was some imagination and maybe a few special new bricks. There have been many automotive building sets offered over the years, but these are the coolest Lego car kits (and maybe a bus or two).

lego auto chassisTechnic Auto Chassis (Set #853) – Hard to believe this set debuted in 1977. Though the technology is a bit primitive by today’s standards, the first Technic sets were mind blowers and game-changers with their gears and side-locking bricks. This car had moving pistons, a two-speed transmission, working steering, and a few other features. Assembling it gave you the sense of how complicated a real car is. It remains one of the largest car models Lego has ever offered, even if it’s not a complete car.

lego volkswagen bus camperVolkswagen T1 Camper (10220) – The Creator series of Lego models has led to some incredibly detailed brick versions of of iconic vehicles. They’re not cheap, but they are glorious. The Volkswagen Splitty Bus is one of the most recognizable vehicles ever, and Lego captured its simple elegance with some complex engineering. The camper interior with pop top is a sight to behold.

lego mini cooperMini Cooper (10242) – Just about everything said about the VW Bus can be said about this model, except… just look at those plaid seats! Wow!

Shelby Mustang (10265) – This is one of the newest entries on the list, and one of the few American cars Lego has made. It captures just enough detail that it can’t be mistaken anything other than a ’67-68 version of the car, which is a really impressive feat.

lego friends party busFriends Pop Up Party Bus (70828)The Lego Movie and its sequel are a couple of ridiculous adventures made even more fun by the presence of models designed or inspired by kids. Among the most bonkers is this crazy party bus. It’s the product the kind of giddy imagination that makes Lego toys so popular in the first place.

lego city carSmall Car (3177) – One criticism of recent Lego vehicles designed for Minifig size is they have gotten really huge, to the point of being way out of scale. This tiny marvel looks a lot like a Smart Car, and at only 4 studs wide and 8 studs in length, it feels perfectly scaled for the Doctor Minifig which is included. Sometimes less is more!

lego cactus canyonCactus Canyon SUV (1720) – This rugged-looking compact off-roader came with all sorts of accessories that could attach to the sides, be tossed inside, or ride along with the included quad-runner. Throw in a kayak that could fit on the roof, and this was truly an adventure in a box.

lego ghostbusters ecto 1Ghostbusters Ecto-1 (21108) – On the other hand, among Lego cars that grew a bit larger in scale, this 1959 Caddy ambulance still shows remarkable restraint size-wise. And it has just enough blockiness to capture that “Lego” feel.

lego harry potter whomping willowHarry Potter Ford Anglia (75953) – The wonkiness of the Anglia’s design is captured perfectly in brick form in the Whomping Willow set. In fact, Lego has offered three slightly different versions of this car in other sets, as well as by itself (not branded as a Harry Potter set).

lego 1989 batmobile1989 Batmobile (76139, 40433) – Y’know what… to heck with proper scale for movie cars. This enormous beast, made of over 3,300 bricks, is huge and impressive. It comes with Minifigs of Batman, Vicki Vale, and the Joker and doesn’t even pretend they’re supposed to be anything more than decorative accessories.

lego burton batmobileSpeaking of accessories, this kit originally came with a bonus set, a smaller Batmobile that actually was properly scaled to those Figs. Where do you get those wonderful toys?

lego city porsche 9111974 Porsche 911 Turbo 3.0 (75895) – Scaling things back a bit, this small 911 model comes in at just 6 studs wide (and it’s based on a car with fender flares, so it should be kinda thick). There are some really clever design solutions, especially around the headlights, that make this a perfect Lego car. And it comes with tiny orange traffic cones to drive around.

Porsche 911 GT3 RS (42056) – On the other end of the 911 spectrum, some people though this gigantic model looked a bit crude for its large scale, but Porsche is really about the performance. And this model really delivers…

lego technic porsche 911 transmissionHow about a working 6-speed (!!) transmission operated by paddle shifters (!!) behind the steering wheel? Yikes! Hard to believe the humble ’77 Auto Chassis eventually led to this monster.

System I Leg Cars – The very first plastic cars made by Lego weren’t kits, but nicely proportioned HO-scale models. Apparently they didn’t think kids would want to build cars, so they considered them accessories to the houses and other buildings those kids would be creating. They did come in “garage” cases that were compatible with the bricks, however. These models were all based on European prototypes, including such classics as the VW Karmann Ghia. and T1 Bus.

lego wooden busWooden Articulated Bus – The oldest vehicles made by Lego weren’t even plastic. From the 1930s through the early 1960s, Lego made chunky wooden vechicles of all types including this bus. Wooden it be neat to see a modern plastic recreation of this one?

Lego cars span a variety of styles and complexity, providing great fun for builders of all ages. What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Fireball Tim Visits hobbyDB, Shelby American Collection, and More In Boulder

The folks at hobbyDB recently enjoyed a couple days hanging out with Fireball Tim Lawrence, dropping in on some automotive attractions in the Boulder Colorado area. Fireball was visiting to record video for his Fireball Malibu Vlog on his his website fireballtim.com.

fireball tim shelby

Steve Volk of the Shelby Museum meets Fireball TIm.

First, let’s clear up the confusion about his name. “Fireball” is not a nickname, it’s his actual name. And no, he didn’t legally change it to that, it’s from his parents. “My Mom and Dad were a Hollywood writer/producer team,” he said. “They were always having to come up with interesting names for characters and went with ‘Fireball’ for me.” Aside from the usually teasing that comes with middle school, the name suits his go-getter life style just fine. My wife usually just calls out “Hey, you!” he laughed.

hobbydb office

At Tatooine, the headquarters of hobbyDB (from the left Anastasia, Devan, Ron and John).

While he was in Boulder, he stopped by the hobbyDB office to ask about working/collecting/playing with toys, and also the Model Car Hall of Fame. He took a private tour of the Shelby American Collection with Steve Volk, dropped in on William Taylor at Auto Archives, and paid a visit to the office of Hagerty’s Insurance. He also met hobbyDB store owner Bud Kalland to see his real and his diecast cars, and went to Loveland to view one of our Advisory Council member Steve Engeman’s collection of promo cars and other automobilia.

william taylor

A tour of Auto Archives and Hagerty Insurance with William Taylor.

Along with a ride up the twisty turns of Boulder Canyon, he shot enough video to create four episodes of his vlog.

Here’s the rundown of the episodes with links…

  • Episode 758: Visit to the Shelby American Collection (Private tour by Steve Volk)
  • Episode 759: Visit to hobbyDB, World’s Coolest Collectibles Database (Meet the hobbyDB staff and visit to Steve Engeman)
  • Episode 760: Visit to Auto Archives & A Rare 540HP McLaren (Auto Archives and Hagerty Insurance in Golden, CO)
  • Episode 761: A 400 HP Mustang GT is only  the Beginning (Visit with Bud Kalland)
bud kalland

Bud Kalland shared his diecast collection and his real Mustang (here with John and Christian).

Being immersed in Hollywood culture his whole life gave him a sense of wonder and possiblity. “Never listen to the Doctor No’s in life,” he says. By that, he means the negative people and voices that tell you to play it safe and never take chances. So to that end, he has worked for Disney Imagineering designing them park rides, created production designs for countless movies, and even worked on the 1989 Batmobile from the Tim Burton movies. “I take the script, and sketch out what the vehicles, weapons, props, and sets should look like for a movie,” he said. He also had a company called Fireballed which produced hypertuned Mini Coopers.

Steve Engman

With Steve Engeman, promotional model collector.

Fireball Tim is also an author/publisher, with several books to his credit. He’s created a couple volumes about his movie and TV cars, but also several activity and coloring books for kids. The children’s books focus on, as you might imagine, cars, beach, and ocean culture. “I just want to share my love of these things through coloring and reading.”

fireball tim books

Just a few of Fireball Tim’s books…

So, yeah, he’s pretty busy and loving every minute of it. These days, he splits time between Malibu and traveling anywhere there’s an opportunity to talk to people about car culture. His vlog features daily posts, so in the past couple years, he’s already created over 750 15 minute or so episodes. “The message of my work it that life is fun,” he said. “You can live a long time where it’s not fun. I play with cars, I live a beach life. Happiness is present, not in chasing dreams.”

Everything Fireball visited on his trip to Colorado is being archived on hobbyDB, The World’s Online Museum. He came to visit hobbyDB because he was a bit skeptical of our mission of documenting the entire world of collectibles. “I came out here because I didn’t think it could be done,” he said, “and now I thinks they just might. I love it!”  In fact, we plan to have him visit again later in the year as there is lots more to see here in Colorado!

Steve Volk of Shelby American Collection Joins hobbyDB Advisory Council

Steve Volk Shelby American CollectionThe hobbyDB Advisory Council‘s newest member is an expert on one of our favorite subjects: Carroll Shelby and his legendary cars.

Steve Volk is President of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of everything related to Shelby. The museum, located in Boulder, Colroado, features dozens of Cobras, Shelby Mustangs, and Ford GT-40s as well as other related vehicles. As if that weren’t enough, the collection includes incredibly rare original racing artifacts and probably the biggest gathering of toys and models of these cars.

“I’ve been interested in cars my whole life,” said Steve. “I started building model cars as a kid and started collecting Ferraris and Cobras in my 30s. I read about Shelby Cobras and GT-40s as a kid but never thought I would own one let alone an entire Shelby museum.”

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40s, Mustang, and Cobras, at Shelby American Collection in Boulder.

The car that started it all was a factory team car that Steve purchased in the 1980s. Rather than hiding in the garages of individual enthusiasts, it made sense to put this and other cars on public display. It helped that Steve was also knew Mr. Shelby and could get his approval and cooperation. “Carroll Shelby was a good friend,” said Steve. “I spoke with him prior to starting the museum in 1996. We wanted his support in the creation of the museum, and he told me he would be there for us for as long as he was vertical. He kept his promise until his passing in 2012.”

With that kind of official involvement, the museum has been able to attract some very rare pieces. “We have a number of original trophies such the 1964 USRRC Championship trophy on display in the museum plus lots of race records and memorabilia from the Shelby American racing years,” said Steve.

As for the cars themselves, the collection includes many permanent fixtures as well as cars that are on temporary loan.The museum or its members own some 70 percent of the vehicles on display. The balance are owned by collectors around the country such as the Larry H. Miller family.

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorantIn addition to the brick and mortar museum, items from the collection are being gathered in an Official Archive on hobbyDB. It’s a monumental undertaking to document the thousands of items on display, but when complete, it will be one of the biggest archives on the site.

“It’s incredible what Carroll Shelby did for the automobile industry,” said Steve, ”and for America having ushered in the muscle car era. He put America on the map by winning the World Manufacturers Championship in 1965, winning Le Mans in the GT40 for Ford in 1966 and 1967 and the SCCA Championship in the Shelby Mustang in 1965, 1966 and 1967.”

It’s incredible what Steve Volk and the Shelby American Collection are doing to preserve that legacy, too. Next time you’re in Boulder, Colorado on a Saturday, you can visit the museum in person.

Is 500 always greater than II? 1967 Vs. 1976 Mustang

1967 1976 Mustang

Over the past two years, we’ve contributed articles to Die CastX magazine for publication on their website and in their quarterly print edition. We hope you enjoy reading about the back story of a couple of very different Mustang diecast models.

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Suppose someone offered you a choice between two vintage Mustangs. The first is a 1967 Shelby GT 500. The second… a 1976 Mustang II Cobra. Easy choice, right? With emission controls, fuel efficiency goals, and new safety standards, by 1976, most cars were slower and less attractive than their predecessors. In fact, the ’67 probably represents the high point in Mustang performance, while the Mustang II easily is the nadir of the marque.

Okay then, let’s take a look at some 1/18 scale models of these two cars. In lane 1, we have the Road & Track edition of the 1967 Mustang from Auto World, which you can pick up for around $85. And in lane 2, the 1976 model from Greenlight, going for around $45. If you can set aside your feelings about the real cars and just consider the models as well as their relative prices, the comparison is closer than you might have guessed.

1967 Mustang

Under the hood, the ’67 is very detailed, as it should be at that price. But the ’76 has a surprising amount of detail including braces hoses, and quite a few parts with separately painted bits. Honestly, they are pretty much on par with each other here.

1967 1976 Mustang

A look at the chassis tells you the detail is worth the extra bucks on the ’67, right down to the body color overspray on the undercarriage. The chassis on the ’76 is a bit more basic, but still nice. Worth noting for both cars: The packaging eschews the usual screw-on base for a form fitting blister insert. The payoff is that neither car requires big, ugly mounting tabs that otherwise mar the design. Let’s hope that’s a continuing trend.

A peek inside both cars reveals a lot. Wait, before you get in, something amazing happens when you open the doors of Greenlight’s Cobra: the front edge of the door dips into the body, mimicking a real door hinge. This is a marvel of miniature engineering, really, something you probably have never noticed or cared about until now. Anything less real will never be the same.

1967 Mustang

Now let’s go inside. The black interior of the ’67 matches the spartan, utilitarian look of the real car, mixing matte and shiny surfaces throughout. It’s accurate, but nothing unusual. The interior of the Mustang II is far more opulent… the carpeting is flocked with fuzzy blue material. Say what you will about other aspects of 1970s cars (we already did), but velour is fabulous stuff. And the rest of the details are on par with the carpet treatment. Heck, you can even get a really good look at the insides with the rear opening hatch. Greenlight really outdid themselves on the interior of this model.

1976 Mustang

For two cars that represent the opposite ends of the performance spectrum in real life, these models are much closer in desirability than you might expect. Both are well packaged with fun graphics, making you think twice about whether to display them loose or in the box. Even the pickiest Mustang enthusiast will have to admit the Greenlight Mustang II would be worth having on their shelf alongside all your other 1/18 ‘Stangs.

1967 1976 Mustang

Shelby American Collection Showcases Much More Than Cars

Shelby American Collection museum

Just a few of the GT-40, Mustang, and Cobra cars at the Shelby American Collection in Boulder

If you were to list all the automotive meccas in the United States, you wouldn’t immediately think of Boulder, Colorado. But it’s the home of the Shelby American Collection, a museum of anything and everything related to Shelby cars and the man behind them. The actual cars on display can vary from month to month, so frequent visits are worthwhile. Several cars are on loan from their owners, and the museum buys and occasionally sells items from their collection to keep things fresh.

The museum has been working with hobbyDB to create an online archive of these items (there are literally thousands of pieces, so it’s a long-term project). We’re also their partner via their official online store, selling limited edition posters, books, and other collectibles.

Besides the cars, there is a treasure trove of other pieces of great interest. There are models of various Shelby-related race cars… miniature GT-40s, Mustangs, and Cobras abound. But many other bits of memorabilia are on display as well.

Shelby America Collection AMT slot car Cobra

This 1/25 scale Cobra slot car kit is based on the non-motorized AMT model.

The marketing for street versions of the GT-40 was very much open to the public in those days. If you walked into a Ford dealer in the mid-60s, you might find a salesman wearing this button. They might have even let you take home a brochure with all the specs. As indicated by the sales literature, however, you weren’t likely to find the actual car for sale on the lot, but instead had to be measured for it (and probably put down a hefty deposit.)

We’re not sure what Carrol Shelby’s Pit Stop Deodorant smells like, but gasoline and burning rubber are probable ingredients. Either way, it was marketed as “A real man’s deodorant,” and who could argue with that?

Shelby American Collection pin hood badge doedorant

Shelby’s own brand of deodorant, a dealer button, and a badge from the first year Cobras.

Another fun piece in the collection is an LP record of the sounds of Le Mans. This recording featured the sounds of the crowd and the cars, as well as commentary from legendary participants including Bruce McLaren, Graham Hill and Mr. Shelby himself. For extra bonus points, this copy is signed by Dan Gurney.

There are some very rare parts on display including several complete engines, spare body panels, nameplates and badges.

Shelby American Collection press release record brochure

Press release announcing the Cobra racing team, the sounds of 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race (in case you weren’t there in person), showroom brochure, and California Manufacturer plate.

The museum also includes pieces that most of the general public never would have seen, such as press release materials and company documents. There are also many volumes of racing programs, tickets and pit passes from events where these cars competed.

Shelby American Collection slot car AC Cobra

Here’s an Aurora AC slot car…

Shelby American Collection Tycopro slot car

… and a Tycopro Cobra slot car.

See that license plate above? Sure, California black plates are special, but this one is really exotic. It’s a special plate for automobile manufacturers, with “013” designating the Shelby garage. The museum reported shelled out around $30,000 for it. And you thought tags were expensive in your state!

If you’ve never had a chance to see the Shelby American Collection, it’s as good an excuse as any to plan a trip to Boulder. The collection is usually only open to the public on Saturdays, so plan accordingly! In the meantime, you can visit the ever-growing archives on hobbyDB.