The first life-size, driveable Lego car just hit the streets of Melbourne, Australia. Called the Super Awesome Micro Project, the car is made from over 500,000 Lego bricks and was co-created by Romanian techie Raul Oaida and Australian entrepreneur Steve Sammartino. The two pals said they started the project because they simply felt a need to bring this brilliant dream car to life. Who wouldn't?
“It’s a hot rod design, mainly because hot rods are cool,” said Sammartino. "Exposed engine, that sort of thing."
Powered by a pneumatic motor (a compressed air engine), the 256-piston car was built in Romania and shipped to Australia for its grand debut earlier this month. It was crowdfunded, but instead of going the well-trodden Kickstarter route, Sammartino found investors by posting a tweet at around 1am back in February, seeking patrons for a high risk venture.
“Anyone who wants to invest in a world first startup $500-$1000, we need about 20 people, tweet me," he wrote. In two weeks, he raised all the money he needed. The project was paid for by 40 patrons, including automotive entrepreneurs and app founders, who each paid $500, to give a total of $40,000.
The car took 18 months to build and includes a hashtag on the hubcaps, as well as renderings of the co-founders’ faces taken from their Twitter avatars (they first met online). The car goes at a top speed around 20-30 km, no faster than a bicycle. Fearing there may be “a giant Lego explosion” if they go faster, there are no plans to push it further.
Lego (the company) offered bricks valued at $60,000 at a discounted price, but were not official sponsors. “It’s not a Lego project but a project about technology and bringing together people from lands afar,” said Sammartino. The Lego hot rod is not for sale.
There's just one drawback to the design: Sammartino said the Lego seats were “the most uncomfortable seats in history.” Now the one-off project has launched, he's heading into the world of mentorship and plans to help Oaida, who has also made a Lego space shuttle, in the startup world.
“This was really a project to promote the importance of connectedness and modern web tools as well as the capabilities of Raul,” said Sammartino. “The startup I’m hoping to see is with him getting the backing he deserves from venture capitalists so he can take one of his amazing ideas to the market.”
Video via Youtube/Steve Sammartino; Photos Josh Rowe