Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan / Ferrari
Published: May 3, 2021
Racing. Ferrari. You can’t have one without the other. Ever since Ferrari’s first entry into Formula 1 back in 1950, the scarlet red team has always been there, competing in every single championship season, inseparable from the action and the fans. Ever see Monza on a race day? It’s a sea of red. The same kind of motorsport dedication and history also rings true with endurance racing. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, 24 Hours of Daytona have all seen Ferraris dominate one time or another.
Ferrari’s current racing steed is the 488, a mid-engined platform that succeeded the 458, and is one of the first modern-day Ferraris to be armed with a turbocharger. In GT3 and GTE applications, its high-revving 3.9-litre twin-turbocharged V8 will produce north of 500 horsepower depending on the series and balance of performance regulations. A substantial rear wing, prominent front splitter, and an aggressive body kit dressed up in sponsors and liveries complete the package.
The 488 GTE made its competition debut in 2016 and those who hopped on the racing simulator bandwagon during the COVID-19 pandemic will be familiar with this Italian steed, showing up in games like Gran Turismo, Assetto Corsa, and iRacing. But LEGO Technic has taken it one step further by allowing anyone, even those without a driver’s license, to enjoy Ferrari’s iconic race car.
The LEGO Technic Ferrari 488 GTE “AF Corse #51” is an authentic replica that does its best to capture the silhouette and the features that make its real-life counterpart such an exceptional endurance racer. AF Corse is one of the racing teams that has strong links to both Ferrari and Maserati, and is named after the team’s founder, Amato Ferrari, though he is not actually blood-related to Enzo Ferrari. AF Corse currently races the 488 GTE in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the #51 car is one of their most successful.
This LEGO set has remained faithful to the team’s iconic colours and livery. You will also find a working front and rear suspension, functional doors and openable front hood, a V8 engine with moving pistons, and a fully functioning steering wheel that can steer the front wheels. It’s only 2 cm shorter in length than the Porsche 911 RSR set we reviewed here, but it’s 1 cm wider, and measures in at the same height.
When you consider the fact that a real 488 GTE race car costs around one million dollars in today’s Canadian money, this LEGO set is almost a steal. But enough about the details. Let’s bring this prancing horse to life! We will run you through our build below with descriptions, photography, final impressions, and how accurately LEGO has portrayed one of Ferrari’s most iconic endurance racers. Enjoy.
Set: Ferrari 488 GTE “AF Corse #51”
Price: $229.99 CAD
Specs: 1,677 pieces
Length: 48 cm
Width: 21 cm
Height: 13 cm
Build Time: 8.25 hours
00:00: Numbered bags! The Porsche 911 RSR Technic set just had clear bags, which made finding the right pieces incredibly difficult and time-consuming. Numbered bags makes it easier to sort through, and should reduce the build time significantly.
00:01: This page shows what we are building in each numbered section. We don’t eat dinner before breakfast, so we will start with #1, which is assembling the mid-mounted V8 engine, rear suspension, and cabin frame.
00:15: 1:1 scale images keep our ducks in a row.
00:22: These ball mounts attach to the frame where we’ve already assembled the differential, and have free range of movement so the wheels can whirl around.
00:25: Got the suspension bolted on with mounts for the wheels. Time to attach the springs and dampers to make a functional suspension setup.
00:26: Uses the same yellow springs as the 911 RSR.
00:30: And the springs are on. Looks very similar to the Porsche setup, but not surprised. Internals on many GTE cars are similar due to their rules and restrictions.
00:35: Reinforcing the rear frame and adding the mounts where the mid-mounted V8 will eventually sit.
00:40: This rear suspension looks nearly complete! Moving onto the additional frame supports.
00:45: And they’re attached. Next is the most exciting part for me, the Ferrari V8.
00:46: Unsurprisingly, the piston and cylinder head pieces are identical to the ones used in the Porsche RSR, but there are 8 cylinders instead of six, and these are mounted in a V shape unlike the Porsche’s side-to-side-firing flat-six engine.
00:53: Cylinder heads and pistons pieced together. Time to slot them into the engine block like a real Maranello engineer.
01:00: One hour in, and the engine is almost complete. We’ve put the two cylinder banks together, and can see the heads bobbing up and down as the crankshaft spins. Of course, it’s not the same firing order as the real car but having it functional is good enough for a LEGO Technic set.
01:05: The V8 is alive. Time to mount it onto the frame we already assembled.
01:06: Engine mounted in the middle (in front of the rear wheels) just like the real GTE car, and now the gears are linked so when the wheels move, it turns the gears in the diff, which turns the cylinder heads. Love when a plan comes together without any hiccups. No trouble following the instruction guide. Everything is crystal clear.
01:10: Next are a few foundation supports for the engine, then we move onto the cabin frame.
01:15: Looking good. Size of the build has grown, though the length of the final build hasn’t been realized just yet.
01:20: Not sure what these are. Grey macaronis or intake manifolds? We’ll find out soon.
01:25: Part 1 is complete! Lots of the intricate mechanicals are out of the way, and we’re moving onto Part 2, which is assembling the cabin floor, steering column, and front suspension with front frame.
01:35: Front suspension first.
01:45: Front suspension arms left and right mounted, allowing the wheels to have a free range of motion.
01:46: This is our third LEGO Technic build. The first was the McLaren Senna GTR, and the second was the Porsche 911 RSR. After spending countless hours building those, this third build with the Ferrari has become much easier, as many of the structural pieces are the same. The familiarity and being able to locate them quicker lowers the learning curve. Less double checking too, but that doesn't stop us from marvelling at it.
01:55: Adding foundations and structures for a more rigid chassis - nothing noteworthy for a photograph.
02:00: 2 hours in and we’re at step 100! Driver side damper has been mounted.
02:10: Springs hard mounted on and compressible at this stage. Front dampers are stiffer than the rears that carry less vertical dampening. There’s a reason for that. We’ll see why soon enough.
02:17: Building the system that lets the steering rack control the front wheels. We’ve got a rail system here with some gears.
02:22: Gears are all set.
02:30: Still looks nothing like a Ferrari at this point but as with all LEGO sets, patience is key, and the reward comes last.
02:32: Connecting two major pieces together never felt better, and reveals the eventual size and dimensions of this Ferrari kit.
02:36: Constructing the mid-frame of the car, which will house the cabin cell.
02:42: Time to build one of the most crucial parts of the car - the driver’s seat! Even flat LEGO butts can’t sit on the floor.
02:46: Nice looking seat. Even got side head bolsters to keep driver’s heads in check when sustaining heavy G loads around corners.
02:50: The first of many decals have been stickered on. These act as the side splitters, and are very important for aerodynamics.
02:55: The steering rack, the lifeline to the front wheels.
02:57: Ferrari steering wheel! This one is rounded in shape, whereas the real GTE car uses a GT3-style wheel with 300 mm diameter and a flat top and bottom. At least they’ve got the right badge on. And it’s attached to the steering column now, so when you turn the wheel, the front axle moves in unison. That completes the second part of this build. Only what feels like a million more pieces to go.
03:00: Onto Part 3. We’re assembling the entire front hood with the headlights and bumper.
03:02: A lot of pieces in this part. This is going to be the meatier portion of the build. Let’s get to it.
03:12: First section of the front bumper is on. Looking good with the authentic decals showcasing the team’s sponsors.
03:19: And the identical piece is mounted on the driver’s side as well.
03:30: Assembling the front hood, with all nine decals on.
03:40: And the hood is installed. Starting to really look like a Ferrari now. Time to build the eyes so it can see.
03:45: Ready for corneal implant.
03:55: After some fiddling around with the hood to make it fit properly, surgery was a success.
04:00: Center part of the hood is complete and mounted.
04:10: Lower front splitter is on - clever way to make it curved like the real car, for optimal aero and front-end downforce. That should translate to better front grip and less understeer.
04:20: Step 300! We’re officially halfway there. Just fitted the base of the windshield, top of the front hood. Serves as the defining border to the roof frame.
04:30: Front side fender is on - these arches will house the wheels.
04:35: Other side is on too.
04:40: This black piece is the dashboard, sitting under the imaginary windshield. Now we’re about to fill up the interior with some creature comforts.
04:45: There we are. The dashboard, instrument cluster, lap timer, and center console that houses the buttons. Lap time of 1:19.680? I wonder where that could be. Seems like a decent lap time for a GTE car around Laguna Seca.
04:46: That’s a wrap for Part 3. Moving onto Part 4 where we assemble the rear end.
05:00: Starting off with the rear bumper area. Got the trunk lid with the Ferrari badge about to be installed.
05:10: Check out these neat lower diffusers.
05:20: Both sides are on, and we’re in business. Step 400.
05:30: Round taillights! Love these, and the glossy material. Makes it look real. Would be awesome to stick some LED lights in there.
05:40: Piecing together the rear wheel arches and fenders now. Notice how the rear fenders are larger than the fronts? That is because the rear has to accommodate the wider rear track.
06:00: Here’s how it looks when Part 4 is complete. The silhouette is really coming together. What’s left is the doors, roof, and wheels, which we shall tackle in this last part.
06:30: This roof is taking a while. Very intricate and lots of moving parts because it has to amalgamate all the structures together and also be stiff enough and bolted down so the Ferrari doesn't’ wiggle about.
06:35: Roof is done. Here’s the underside of the crab shell.
06:36: And here’s the top of the roof with the decals.
06:50: The roof is mounted on, along with the A-pillars.
07:20: This rear section is about to be mounted, with the rear quarter panels and top of the rear trunk.
07:30: Feels like there are a million stickers on this car. Never ending. But then again, who doesn’t want their company name on a Ferrari?
07:45: Driver’s side door is on. Swings open with ease and panel gaps are minimal.
07:48: Even got little side mirrors. Now that’s the attention to detail.
08:00: Both doors and mirrors are on. Home stretch now with my favourite part of the car, the rear diffuser and exhausts.
08:10: Rear diffuser with mid-mounted exhaust tips, ready to be bolted on. Got to flip the car on its belly for this one. Also gives us a chance to see how flat the underside is, just like on the real GTE car, that offers a stable aero platform.
08:12: Wheels! Tires! They’re all the same size, both front and rear.
08:13: Now the finale: the rear spoiler. Save the best for last, right?
08:17: Rear spoiler is mounted, with these clever undermounts. Not a swan-neck mount like the Porsche.
08:18: And we’re done! Eight and a quarter hours later, and we have ourselves our own Ferrari 488 GTE race car.
The attention to detail in this LEGO Technic set is exquisite, from the accurate decals and Tricolore paintjob, to the silhouette and shape of the 488 GTE race car. The doors open, the steering works, and the V8 engine is brought to life when the rear wheels rotate. The grey cross mounts above the engine are a nice touch too.
It’s not easy to see through the body panels and view the V8 engine in motion - a bit of a shame, but it’s not like you could in the real car either. I like how it’s authentically shaped in a V configuration just like the McLaren Senna V8, and the opposite of Porsche’s flat-six engine that fires from side to side, and the Aston Martin DB5’s straight-six engine that fires up and down.
The functional springs means that the front and rear suspension can compress, but it also means the Ferrari sits quite high up the floor with a heavy rake angle. Looks almost like an off-road car from certain angles, whereas the Porsche looks quite low to the floor in comparison. The size is pretty much identical to the Porsche, though, and significantly larger than the McLaren Senna GTR that sits in the entry-level price of the LEGO Technic sets.
Who hasn’t dreamed about owning a Ferrari? Now anyone can. Sort of. The Ferrari 488 GTE LEGO Technic set is one of the most detailed and authentic pieces of kit we’ve ever built, and only serves to deepen our fondness for the brand and its storied racing history. The 24 Hours of Spa race is coming up in a few months. Want an easy way to spot the AF Corse #51 car? Just check out your LEGO shelf!