Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan / LEGO / Porsche
Published: April 13, 2021
Motorsport is to Porsche as peanut butter is to jelly. Racing is embedded in their DNA, and has definitively shaped Porsche’s history, road cars, and overall brand cache. If you haven’t paid any attention to endurance racing over the past few years, you’re missing quite a spectacle. 24 Hours of Le Mans, 24 Hours of Nurburgring, 24 Hours of Daytona, and 1000 Miles of Sebring - annual races that should never be missed, not just for the superhuman driving skills or the extremes of human endurance, but also for the Porsche 911 RSR. RSR stands for RennSport Rennwagen, which translates to racing sports car, and represents one of the most high-performance GT race cars ever produced by Porsche’s state-of-the-art factory in Flacht, Germany. Nevermind the 911 GT3 or GT2 RS - the RSR is the apex predator.
Featuring Porsche’s signature water-cooled, naturally aspirated, horizontally-opposed 4.0L six-cylinder engine, the RSR produces about 500 horsepower depending on which series it's competing in and its subsequent balance of performance regulations. The RSR may look similar to the roadgoing 911 from the outside but it’s an entirely different beast underneath the carbon fibre epidermis. First off, unlike regular 911s, the engine is in the middle. Secondly, the RSR is rear-wheel drive only and runs its output through a 6-speed sequential gearbox rather than a 7-speed PDK. You thought the 911 GT3’s 9,000 rpm was heavenly? This one revs up to 9,500 rpm. It’s also got a mid-mounted, center-exit exhaust that flanks an imposing and heavily aero-focused rear end.
What if I told you that anyone can build and drive one of these million-dollar Porsches? Well, it is sort of true. This is LEGO’s take on the Porsche 911 RSR, and remains one of their most detailed and intricate Technic sets to date.
LEGO remains faithful to the RSR’s shape and silhouette, keeping it unmistakably Porsche with rounded headlights and authentic white and red livery. The massive rear diffuser is spot-on with the original, and the same goes for the swan-neck rear spoiler with mounts over the top of the wing, as to not disturb the airflow below the more crucial underside, ensuring the rear end is as planted as possible. Of note, this is a replica of the RSR from the 2017 season, so if you search up the current RSR models, you will notice a few design changes, most notably the new side-exit exhausts and a slightly larger displacement engine.
Priced at $199.99 CAD, this RSR represents the mid-tier of LEGO’s Technic products, slotting above entry-level ones like the McLaren Senna GTR that we reviewed here, but below halo products like the Bugatti Chiron and Lamborghini Sian, both in piece count and price.
The LEGO Technic RSR is rich with features like an authentically designed cockpit that showcases a radar screen and fire suppression system, a steering system that rotates the front wheels, moving pistons inside the horizontally-opposed six-cylinder engine, a visible and functional differential, and a track map of the Laguna Seca race track printed onto the driver’s side door.
With 1,580 pieces to dig into, there’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s start the build! We will run you through our build below, with descriptions, crisp photography (full photo set here), final impressions, and how accurately LEGO has portrayed one of Stuttgart’s most successful endurance race cars. Enjoy.
Set: Porsche 911 RSR
Price: $199.99 CAD
Specs: 1,580 pieces
Length: 50 cm
Width: 20 cm
Height: 13 cm
Build Time: 9 hours
00:00: And we begin. Tons of separate plastic bags - 18 in total. But unlike the McLaren Senna GTR LEGO set where all the bags were organized and labelled sequentially, these are all un-numbered, so I have no idea where to start. Will definitely take longer to search for the parts I need.
00:05: I might start seeing LEGO pieces in my sleep now.
00:08: Finally found the first piece I need - not easy in a sea of bricks.
00:20: Progress! Had to literally open every bag and get one piece from each to make one item.
00:25: Looks like we’re assembling the rear differential and rear axle first.
00:35: There we are. A functioning rear differential that appears quite complex with multi-direction gears. I love that attention to detail, and can immediately tell it's much more intricate than the McLaren.
00:42: Suspension arm - this is where the wheels will go near the end of the build.
00:43: These functioning and compressing dampers are slick, moving the chassis up and down, exposing the inner shaft of the damper piston. And how cool do these yellow loaded springs look?
00:50: The complexity of this rear axle is continuing to amaze me.
00:52: Symmetry is beautiful.
00:55: Alright, rear differential and transaxle are finished.
01:00: One hour in, and it feels like I’m only scratching the surface. Moving on to building the RSR’s underbody frame.
01:10: The lower frame is complete. This will be the mechanical foundation of the RSR.
01:16: These 1:1 scale images ensure you never choose the wrong piece.
01:20: Judging by the length of the frame, this RSR is going to be massive.
01:25: The lower foundational structures are on - not sure what these are supposed to be, but we will find out soon.
01:27: The pieces are beginning to dwindle, but currently it’s but a drop in the ocean - like trying to empty the Pacific Ocean using a bucket.
01:30: I have no idea what I just made.
01:31: Oh, it’s the front axle. Hah!
01:42: A nice 1:1 scale comparison check-up to make sure all our ducks are in a row. The front suspension looks good to me.
01:48: Now that the springs have been locked in - you can push them back and forth and feel the spring rate.
01:55: The front suspension is bolted onto the frame now. RSR is beginning to take shape.
01:57: Next we’re putting together the front differential to ensure the gears are connected and movable to the steering rack.
02:00: This little grey gear now controls the front axle. When it spins, the wheels turn, locked by about 90-degrees of movement.
02:05: The rear suspension is now complete - step 99. Looks fantastically complex. Whoever designed this deserves a raise, can’t imagine how much time it took to engineer such a complex piece and remain authentic to the car’s shape and features. In addition, the front and rear springs are aligned and looking good.
02:10: The frame is coming together. Sturdy and a lot of parts to hold all the intricate blocks to come later. This is a mid-engined car so most of the visual and foundational weight is going to be in the middle and rear, so I’m not surprised that we’re spending so much time building this area.
02:15: Side sills are on. As seen on TV.
02:16: Time to assemble Porsche’s horizontally-opposed 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine!
02:30: The first half of the engine block. We can see where the cylinders will go in the holes.
02:32: Six pistons, six cylinder heads. All accounted for, and I love the illustrations on this page that show the assembly of the pistons and cylinders.
02:33: Putting the cylinder caps onto the pistons and crankshaft below - is this how real Porsche engineers feel when they piece together their prized project? Much more detailed than the moving pistons in the LEGO McLaren.
02:34: In they go.
02:44: Hard bolting the engine onto the chassis. Just like the real RSR, this six cylinder sits just behind the driver, rather than at the far rear.
02:54: Starting to build the cabin cell.
03:06: Attaching the steering rack to the gears that control the front wheels.
03:08: The RSR’s steering wheel! Rounded design just like the 2017 model, though they’ve since moved onto GT3-style wheels.
03:13: On it goes. Steering rack has a bit of slack, not sure why. Does this RSR have DAS or something?
03:20: Let’s give the driver some place to sit shall we?
03:28: That is one kick ass seat. It even has the head bolsters sticking out the top so that the driver’s heads don't swing left and right while sustaining G-Forces - imagine taking Eau Rouge flat out without them. They don’t look too comfortable, though I’m sure those flat LEGO derrieres won’t mind.
03:30: The seat is bolted on. Just one. No passengers allowed.
03:38: Piecing together the passenger side floor where many of the electronics live.
03:42: Almost four hours in and we’re not even one-third of the way there. The actual build time will be slightly less due to me constantly documenting, photographing, and just spending minutes drooling over the details. Let’s keep going! It’s like Porsche really wanted you to know how stressful and strenuous endurance racing can be.
03:43: Page 100. Here’s the progress so far.
03:53: The front end structure with support beams and frames.
03:55: Assembly at this point is a bit bland due to the repetitiveness and so many of these foundational and structural pieces, but it will all pay off soon.
04:10: Step 193 - this is where things finally get interesting. We’re building the rear diffuser, which on GTLM and GTE cars, are massive due to the aero demands keeping the wheels glued to the tarmac for maximum grip and traction.
04:25: Here’s that massive diffuser, six vanes across.
04:30: Doing some underbody work - ever see the bottom of a 911? Impressive how LEGO kept it so flat, so that there is no air flow disturbance underneath the car.
04:35: Attaching the rear quarter panels. Decals start going on now - Porsche Intelligent Performance.
04:42: Rather than flipping it around and doing the same thing for the passenger side, we’re finishing up the driver’s side with the headlight assembly.
04:52: Very neat headlight assembly - looks like a desk lamp. Plastic is a little scratched up sadly, but I did try using some microfibre towels and rubbing alcohol to make it squeaky clean!
04:53: After some ophthalmic surgery, the left eye is on! Surgery was a success.
05:10: Piecing together the driver’s side door. There’s a small little track map of Laguna Seca (a race track in California). Also got a side mirror and even a sleek door handle attached.
05:20: And it’s finally on! Swings out sideways like the real RSR.
05:21: We’re just past the halfway point now in the instructional manual and we’re doing the exact same steps now but for the passenger side of the RSR.
05:22: Won’t bore you too much with the same pictures of the other side of the vehicle - it’s actually much easier this time around. Deja vu but flipped in a mirror - so let’s skip to the finalized right side.
05:55: Both side panels on. From the side view, you can already tell it's a 911 with that unmistakable and iconic lower silhouette.
06:00: Next is that signature RSR rounded front bumper - Lego pieces aren't typically round so it will be interesting to see how they have designed it.
06:02: Looks like these curved pieces are the key.
06:10: They’re both on and bolted - could pass away as a Volkswagen beetle from this front angle.
06:15: Next part of the front bumper goes on, like a lower retainer for a heavy underbite.
06:25: Front hood section with the Porsche emblem and Mobil1 decals.
06:35: Cute little headlights. Ready for corneal implantation… and they’re in. Too bad they don’t actually light up though I think some DIY lighting with a battery would make for a cool mod.
06:40: Filling in the C-pillars now.
06:45: Page 224. Step 379. Home stretch now.
06:46: Next is the detailed center console with air conditioning vent (gets mighty hot in these metal tin cans, you know) and panel with controls and display. For drivers this is command central where they can view lap times, adjust the fan, engine controls, etc.
06:51: The end of result of mating a black manta ray with some grey macaroni.
07:02: Time to build the front hood - separated into two parts.
07:17: 100 pages left. We’re almost there - this is what our build looks like just after 7 hours.
07:19: Assembling the rear bumper. So we’ve got the taillights, tailgate panel with the RSR badging, and center-exit dual exhaust pipes.
07:40: And the rear is on! Love the classic rounded shape and the RSR badge.
07:55: Next is the swan-neck mount rear wing, though it’s not quite the same time as the real life RSR where the mounts go above the spoiler and hang by the bottom of the crane neck, hence the term. Close enough, though.
08:00: Let's move onto the final pieces - the roof and the rear engine cover.
08:05: Building in the last few sections is easy since the number of pieces have drastically dwindled down, and in addition to built up familiarity, it’s now effortless to spot the parts you need.
08:30: Bye bye engine?
08:31: Nope, looks like the engine cover can open! Love how it swings upwards to reveal the beating heart of the RSR.
08:40: Adding the roof mounts to create the rounded silhouette of the RSR.
08:42: Adding some underbody mounting.
08:43: Even race cars need antennas to communicate with the team via radio for messages, pit stop strategies, etc.
08:53: Time for the final piece - the wheels and tires! Unlike the McLaren Senna GTR, these tires are all the same size, as dictated by GTE and GTLM series regulations.
09:02: Complete! Just over nine hours. P.S. the homeless lego pile.
This Porsche 911 RSR replica is gigantic, dwarfing the McLaren Senna GTR we built a few weeks ago, and significantly bigger than the box it comes in. And as it should be for the $200 CAD price tag. Substantial and imposing - this is exactly what a premium LEGO Technic piece should look like. The rear spoiler makes our knees weak.
The livery is spot on with the red, white, and 911 script on the front hood, as are the Mobil1 sponsors on the front fender. The GTE category have always harboured some of my favourite race cars as they still follow the general shape and form of the road cars they are based on, unlike LMP1 and LMP2. The same applies to the RSR. All of the signature 911 cues are there, from the rounded headlights to the center-exit exhausts, and LEGO employs them to their fullest. Not only that, but the RSR is equipped with a functioning damper system with springs on all four wheels, so you can bounce the car up and down as if it’s traversing over curbs and crests.
You can easily spot the mid-mounted six-cylinder by flipping open the rear engine cover, and while you can see the pistons, crankshaft, and differential moving, you can’t really see the cylinder heads moving within the cylinder block - a bit of a shame. Love how it's horizontally opposed just like the real Porsche, meaning the cylinders fire from side to side, rather than in a V-shape like the McLaren V8, or up and down like in the Aston Martin DB5’s straight-six. I will admit that I’ve sat and stared at the mechanics at work for quite a period of time - it’s fascinating and an engineering nerd like me really gets a kick out of it. I can almost hear the 9,500 rpm wail through the plastic.
The interior is a treat as well. The authentically-shaped seat with the thick head bolsters look spectacular, and the rounded steering wheel is just like the one in the 2017 car, not the GT3-style wheel in the later models. The little details are key, with the large fan vent, center control panel, and clever little Laguna Seca track map hidden on the driver’s side door panel. It’s an easter egg paradise.
The LEGO Technic Porsche 911 RSR was a long build but the 1,580 pieces came together like clockwork. I haven’t felt this productive in quite some time - I guess that’s the magic of LEGO. It’s the difference between buying food from a restaurant and purchasing the ingredients and cooking it yourself. You get that extra feeling of satisfaction. And when it comes down to million-dollar race cars like the Porsche 911 RSR, it’s really like fine dining isn’t it?