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Good old fashioned Technics car chassis sets - questions!

plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
My brother and I were just going through our old Lego this weekend and we ended up talking about those Technics car chassis sets with working engines, transmissions and whatnot that they used to do in the 80's-90's (?). If I remember, there were multiple versions over the years - can anyone here give me the set names/numbers off the tops of their heads? (I can have a look on the main site once I get access to my computer again later this week if not!) And which was the best version?

Also, I have a sneaking feeling that these sets are now prized by collectors and cost an arm-and-a-leg on the second hand market. Is this true? How hard are they tofind and what kind of price would I be looking at generally?


  • woony2woony2 UKMember Posts: 336
    The first one was #853 or #956 if you are in the USA from 1978. Then the next, and as far as I'm concermed the best was #8860 which came out in 1980. It was the flagship technic model of its day and remained so for quite a few years, not like todays quick turn arounds. I longed for this set as a child but never got it. I even remember it cost £24.99 back then. It had the proper folding lid box with the transparent plastic insert for all the bits. I picked one up a few years ago on ebay along with about 20 other space and technic sets for £32 pounds. Those bargain days are long gone I fear.
    I think there have been others after this but thats the classic one.
  • woony2woony2 UKMember Posts: 336
    Just had a quick look on ebay and bricklink. Used boxed copies of #8860 seem to go for around £60 - £95. New and sealed are well up near the £500 mark. Can pick them up for even less if your not fussed about the box. But the boxes from those days are realy good.
    #854 / #948 Go-kart was similair but on a smaller scale. Single piston engine and no gearbox. That I did have as a kid and could build it without even looking at the instructions or a picture. Must dig it out and rebuild it with my son whilst I'm off for Christmas.
  • suprajamessuprajames UK SussexMember Posts: 366
    I have just finished building #8860, my boss's parents found it in their loft along with 3 other old Technic sets, he gave it to me to build (replace any missing parts) and is now on proud display in his office, ideal for a car restoration business. We had a discussion on what car the set was based on, and we think its a VW Beetle.
    Its a complex build and the whole gearbox set-up is a bit fiddly and the seats never want to stay upright for long, but I really enjoyed a trip down memory lane as I remember building the set as a child, love to see Lego do a new version.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    So you guys would say the more recent black one is better? Because to my untrained eyes, the red one looks more fully featured. I may keep my eye out for one of them this year. It'd be pretty neat to build a custom removable body for it. Do they have mini gearboxes in the transmission?
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    Also, how do #8880 and #8865 compare? I'd imagine that black one would be pretty expensive...
  • jgadgetjgadget Member Posts: 192
    #8865 was the set that got me back into Lego, which I bought myself at Christmas that year. Hard to believe it was way back in 1988 or 1989.
    I then bought #8880 on its release and eventually went back and picked up a second-hand #8860 and then #853.

    I don't have them built at the moment, but this is how I remember the progress of these vehicles and their key features:

    #853 - in-line 4 cylinder front engine, using the old square 2x2 pistons, steering but no suspension, a 2 or 3 speed gearbox with clumsy meshing and adjustable seats - 4 of them.

    #8860 - flat 4 boxer rear engine, using the old square 2x2 pistons, steering, independent rear suspension, a 2 or 3 speed gearbox with clumsy meshing and adjustable seats.

    #8865 - V4 mid engine, using the old square 2x2 pistons, steering, full independent suspension on all 4 wheels, a 2 or 3 speed gearbox with clumsy meshing and adjustable seats, plus pop-up headlights.

    #8880 - V8 mid engine, using the newer pistons, 4-wheel steering, 4-wheel drive, full independent suspension on all 4 wheels, a 3 or 4 speed gearbox with modern easy meshing of gears, fixed seats, plus pop-up headlights. Lift-up engine cover.

    With each release, something new was added.

    I always felt that the series ended after that, although some might argue that the next was #8448 and then there was #8466.
    Both of these later sets were lovely vehicles, featuring nicely damped opening features, but they didn't seem to move the game on from the 4x4x4 #8880.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    Wow, that's a really comprehensive overview, @jgadget‌! Are the old square pistons a lot worse than the modern ones?
  • TechnicNickTechnicNick Berkshire, UKMember Posts: 279
    @jgadget sums it up nicely. I had #853 and #8860 as a kid (still do :-)), and I've since collected the others. The later #8865 has more features - proper suspension - but it's an awkward looking thing, the #8880 is really super and represents a technical high water mark for these sets. #8448, while overall less spectacular is a nice looking, cleverly engineered set that does feature a full 5 speed plus reverse gearbox.

    My pick - #8860, partly for nostalgic reasons, and the fact that I prefer the old 2x2 square pistons; they may be too bulky but the resulting engine designs can have a lot more variety. Plus with suitable gearing they do make a good noise! I always thought the later cars were far too quiet.
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    edited December 2014
    Hm, might look into picking up an #8860 later this year, then. It looks like #8880 is the overall best, but they seem to start at £80ish on the second-hand market (whereas 8860 is more like ~£60)!

    That said, #8865 seems a lot cheaper overall if I decide I don't mind the 'monocoque' chassis as opposed to the ladder frames the others seem to have...

    Hey, I've had in idea, maybe if I can get my brother to chip in, I could stretch my student budget to an #8880... ;-)
  • jgadgetjgadget Member Posts: 192
    Old 2x2 pistons worse than new pistons?
    No, not really, just different although not as realistic, but that doesn't matter,
    I love all the sets, even the later #8448. While it doesn't seem to move the game on, it is a fantastic set.
    Get them all.
    I just built the plane, #42025, which I wasn't going to bother with, but it's a wonderful set.
    Buy as many of the larger sets as you can afford, they're all worth it.
    No, I don't work for Lego, but I do appreciate their work.
  • GrosseKindGrosseKind Member Posts: 1
    The best build of the four in my mind was 8865. Love the other three (8860 more in fact) as well but 65 was the last i obtained and it slotted together quite nicely.

    nitpicking aspects:

    853, the 2 speed box is really not. Its a varied ratio setup but essentially you have to acknowledge its a first/reverse trans. The front suspensionless axle is remarkably spindly. I gave mine to an 8 year old to play with the other day and spent bulk time refitting the swivel plates/kingpin and wheel assembly. The 9:1 of the lower ratio spools over quite well but can load the centre uni's if theres any tight spots, and the rear axle uses a uni across it so all torque is shoved through the two tiny pins of each cross axis. I've not blown the arse out of one in either spot but won't be shocked when it does. Silly firing order, not hard to alter. Unit construction of motor and box is a plus, the spindly mounting of the both, not so great. Expect the diff pinion to blow out of the chassis in the low ratio if not given better support. Tie rods benefit nicely from a redesign. 

    8860, broke my heart. The 6:1 of first gear fights a very high friction, heavy, but cool looking engine. I longed for this set for 25 years to find the 3 speed gearbox was more a two and a tooth skipper. Swing axle rear suspension, though not ideal, does the job. I slipped an extra plate below the lower spring mount to even out the camber a bit when pushing. There are other idiosyncracies to it, but just buy the set and be truly happy. Well, it did it for me anyway.

    8865, best crashbox (plus neutral) and sensible ratio spread among the three. I've added a bit more of a body to mine as whats there standard is both too much and not enough. The track is massive and the body narrow and out of proportion to it, but god that suspension is gorgeous (before, and even after added a tonne of weight on it with bodywork) and the steering though full of slop from unis and a train of gears turns quite well. Seats though better than 853, are shapely if boring. 60 and 80's chairs crap all over em.

    8880, like a lot of things in life, does many many things. That it manages several of them in a substandard fashion is not a shock though quite forgivable. May have been better when fresh/new (i'll never know) but expect steering tie rods that pop off when loaded, and a motor with the idler for its chain drive on the wrong side (build it RHD. Flip your diffs and the motor then turns smoother forward than the backward of box stock). The gear ratio's are way high for realism to save strain on the drivetrain but make 3rd and fourth quite boring to watch as far as engine speed goes. Regeared mine but then had to reinforce the diffs and trans to cope. Suspension like a rock as standard. A very high riding rock. If you lower it and leave the springs with stock tension (made preload spacers for mine) its a mushy chassis bottoming out monstrosity, though the optics do improve. Lots of slop in the sychromesh. Love it or hate it body work, that i've added to and not bad as far as colour coding goes. in original format, engine, steering idlers, rear chassis, and rear spoiler lack support, but bracing is easy enough. 

    I'd recommend grabbing the lot of them. But 8860 then 8865,first. Sure the transmission are clunky vs the sychro boxes, but they just feel pure.

    happy hunting.
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