Previous Year
Next Year
New Sets for 1980
New Parts for 1980

1980 - A New Auto Chassis


In 1980 only two new models were released, but most of the original sets from previous years were still available.

The new auto chassis replaced the old, and improved upon it in almost every way with an impressive list of old features (reciprocating engine, gearbox, rack and pinion steering, adjustable seats) as well as new features (a working differential, rear independent suspension, and reclining seats).  This set showcased everything Technic could do, but still was constructed with a large number of traditional bricks and plates.  The auto engines set was released only in the USA, and featured 4 technically accurate engine models with full instructions.  Both sets could be motorized using the 4.5V motor available separately.

Some very important new parts were introduced this year including the differential, the 14 tooth bevel gear, and the shock absorber.


858/8858 Engines
8860 Auto Chassis


Differential Gear
A specialized differential gear was introduced.  The ring gear, which has 28 teeth, can act as either a spur gear or a crown gear due to the tooth profile (like the crown gear).  This part is made to be used in conjunction with 3 of the new 14 tooth bevel gears.  One bevel gear goes on each side attached to an axle, and a third acts as a planet gear and rides on a pin in the cage.  The assembly acts like a real differential in every way: wheels can turn at different speeds or together, wheels turn opposite directions if the ring gear is fixed, and one wheel drives at double speed if the other is held.

The new 14 tooth bevel gears were the first gears LEGO made which were purpose-designed to work on perpendicular axes.  The gear is only 1/2 stud thick and the teeth do not have any back iron (webbing between the teeth), so it is a bit weak, but future iterations would correct this.

Shock Absorber
The shock absorber was an important step.  Finally, models could have real suspension.  This part was eventually used for other purposes, including holding mechanisms over center.

The shock absorber consists of a telescoping mechanism inset with a helical compression spring.  The spring is quite stiff compared with the weight of parts it typically supports.  The shock bottoms before the spring reaches solid height.

The new pulley is smaller than the previous, and has a nice round groove for driving belts or rubber bands.  It is also only 1/2 stud thick, so it fits in smaller spaces.

The new 3x2 plate with a centered hole on one end can be used to support axles or pins, and is a way to align studded construction with Technic beam holes, which are located halfway between the studs.

Contact me with comments on this page.