KansasFest alumnus Evan Koblentz recently made the news with his LEGO replica of a Chevy 454 “big block” crate engine, which was used 1970–1974 in the Chevrolet Corvette, among other cars. The 40-pound machine has moving pistons and crankshafts, and it’s built exclusively using LEGO pieces from the 1970s and 1980s.

But it’s what’s under the hood (pun intended) that’s of interest to retrocomputing enthusiasts. Writes Lewin Day for The Drive:

Decades before Lego Mindstorms came along, there were altogether simpler programmable kits to run Lego motors and the like. Koblentz managed to source a functioning Lego Control Center kit from the 8-bit era, complete with its interface card for the Apple II home computer. 

Koblentz runs the ancient Lego gear from a Laser 128, a popular clone of the Apple II from the 1980s. A variety of contemporary software was available for talking to the Lego Interface A motor controllers, with Koblentz whipping up some custom BASIC code instead to do the job. The old-school gear is primarily charged with running the distributor and spark plug lights that help animate the engine.

Life-Size Chevy 454 V8 Made of Lego Runs on Ancient 8-Bit Hardware

Koblentz wrote an extensive article for the 100th issue of Juiced.GS about how to integrate an Apple II with LEGO. Learn more about his hobbies at his website, BrickHacks.

Editor & publisher of Juiced.GS, the Apple II community's longest-running print publication dedicated to the Apple II; co-host of the Star Trek podcast Transporter Lock; digital nomad at Roadbits.