I have been working on this off and on for about three years, and now it is finally finished. This model contains 3,129 individual pieces.
About this creation
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is one of my favorite cars, and I wanted to make a model of it that was as detailed and close to the original as possible with Lego bricks. I have modeled this car before, and the level of detail I wanted could not be contained in 12-wide cars. So, I decided to make it 22 wide, based on the size of the tires. I created a conversion number, based on tire diameter, and converted real life inches to studs to have accurate proportions.
I also wanted this model to be functional, including opening hood, doors and trunk. I originally wanted to have working suspension, brakes and steering controlled by the steering wheel, but these functions would compromise detail and take up too much space. The brakes were also impractical because the engine does not run. I have also included a movable shifter, glove box door, sun visors, wiper blades, and seats.
I also made models of all the options available on the real car (different engines, power brakes and steering, etc.). These options can be interchanged easily in LDD, providing easy customization. I will post pictures and building instructions for these options in a separate MOC.
I meant to finish this model in 2017 for the car's 60th anniversary, but it was not ready yet. Another important thing when building this model was strength. I wanted this model to be buildable in real life and not fall apart under its own weight. I created a full frame that holds together when removed, something I have not done in a Lego model before. The frame connects to the floor pan and rear body by Technic pins, and attaches to the front bumper also. The engine is also supported by the frame. The front wheels are attached to simulated A-arms, and the rear axle is attached to the frame, trunk floor, and simulation leaf springs. I think this will hold the car well in real life, but I won't know until I build it.
The hinges were a challenge to create, because I wanted them to move like on the real car. For the trunk, I made u-shaped Technic hinges, which allow it to open very similar to the real car. The hood hinges were more difficult. Again, I used Technic beams, but with a long one in front and a short on in back. This hinge is difficult to open in LDD, due to the fact that some parts must move simultaneously, so I made a second set of hinges that are already opened. The door hinges are very difficult for these large cars, because the two stud thick door prevents the use of 1x4 hinge bricks. Although I have used hinge bricks on two stud wide doors before, they cause the body to bend to let them open. So, for this model I used clip-and-bar hinges. They require a gap to open, and because of the chrome stripe I could not use tiles to make the gap smaller. These hinges do require a little flex in the body to open, but not as much as other designs. I tried many different door hinges, but there always has to be a gap of some sort to let them open.
The engine I chose is the factory 283 cubic inch V8 with the optional dual four barrel carburetors, with a 4 speed manual transmission. This model also has power steering, power brakes, windshield washer, electric wiper motor, and heating.
I have included building instructions so you can look at all the details yourself. I would like to build this in real life one day, but it would be expensive so I probably won't build it for a while. I have tried to only use colors on bricks that are available in real life on that certain brick. I would love to see pictures if anyone builds it in real life.
Front. The headlights look grey in this picture but they are actually transparent
View from the driver's position
The shifter moves up, down, left and right, so you can pretend to shift through all the gears. Here it is shown up and left
And here it is shown down and right
The underside of the dash and glovebox
The front seatbacks pivot forward to allow access to the reat seat
Door panel detail
The sun visors move, too
They can pivot down
And to the side
The windshield wipers. I did not make a windshield because it is an unusual shape and would be difficult to recreate while still maintaining hood opening space and visibility. I may try to make one later
Hood open. You can see the "bat wing" air cleaner on top of the carburetors
The engine viewed from the firewall side. The clear round brick is the windshield washer reservoir. You can also see the radiator fins and the fan
Engine bay, driver side. You can see the power brake booster, power steering pump, battery, and blower motor
Engine bay, passenger side
The engine removed, passenger side
Removed engine, underside
Trunk lid open
The details on the underside of the trunk lid
The spare tire
Tire hidden, jack visible
The bumper jack, removed and assembled
The steering mechanism. It is not controlled by the steering wheel, the tires must be manually tilted. The tires move 20 degrees in either direction, scrubbing the inner fenders. To eliminate scrub, the inner fenders would need to be bigger, but this would compromise engine space, so I decided not to. The steering function is mostly for looks and easier parking on a display shelf.
The wheels, fully to the right (as viewed from inside the car)
And fully left
The underside, you can see the exhaust pipes, mufflers, and the special X-shaped crossmember that is used on the real cars to strengthen the convertible frame
A different view of the underside
The rear axle. The differential is functional, and should turn the "driveshaft" gear. There is no actual driveshaft, because there is nothing in the engine or transmission to turn
The spare tire well and gas tank
The frame, removed. It is made from Technic axles and beams and would stay together when removed, providing structural strength to the model
All the compartments open
The rest of the pictures are some other angles of the car
The rear fender skirts are removable. Here are a few pictures with them off.
If I make any small updates to this model, I will post them after this picture.
I think you really did a fabulous job at this. I really like the underside and how you made the chassis too!!! Steering and rear diff gears, VERY impressive!! And you even made it tri-power- cool!! Did you start with Robert Pools' open source '57 Chevy or from scratch? I like the way you did the rear lights much better than I did on my version. Plus I have an incorrect step up inside the doors that you seem to have done away with.
Are you going to build it? If so you should REALLY use chrome blocks for the bumpers so it really pops!!
I don't know if you've seen, but I've been tweaking mine. The latest changes involves adding my very own stickers. See for yourself:
My next LEGO project is going to be.....hold on to your hats, making an exact LEGO version of MY car. A few years ago, I bought my VERY own 2dr hard top 57 Chevy!!!! I've been working on the LEGO version on and off for over a year but haven't gotten really far. I want to make improvements to my convertible not just through a roof on it. Plus, I'm going to build it too and take it around to car shows and display it with my REAL one!!!