If your daughter was going on a date in the 70’s in Australia, you’d probably have a few questions for the prospective boy:
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What are your intentions for my daughter?
  • What kind of car do you drive?

If the answer to that last question was a panel van, then there was an important follow-up question:

  • Does it have curtains?



Panel vans were used by two kinds of people. Tradies appreciated the space of a panel van and the ability to lock up your tools at night. For surfers you could fit your board in the back and not have to worry about losing it. If you were on a surfing safari up the coast you could put a mattress in the back of it to sleep at night. And if you had a mattress in the back, you may as well have some curtains for privacy.

Holden capitalised on the surfer image for their Sandman panel van. Advertisements were filled with bronzed and blonde Aussie’s at the beach. And you could have your car in a range of very 70’s colours with a lairy Sandman graphic on the back. You could get brown with orange graphics and orange with brown graphics. Or perhaps you prefer the lime green with purple graphics?



I wanted to build the Sandman for two reasons:
  • It’s an iconic Australian car, which I had never seen built in lego before.
  • That roofline! How would I create it in lego?
In building it, I set myself a few rules:
  • It had to be in a smaller scale. I aimed at 1:12 scale.
  • No power functions. Everything had to be manual.
  • Copy the features from the real car as much as possible.
I think I got pretty close. The most difficult thing about a MOC is knowing when to stop.

The final car has the following features:

  • Opening doors, bonnet, tailgate and rear window.
  • Live axle rear suspension
  • Front independent suspension
  • Steering wheel and TOG (tailpipe of god) steering
  • 4 + R gearbox
  • V8 engine (thanks jorgeopesi)
  • Lairy graphics
  • Removable body


Finished MOC

There were several tricky elements to the build. The most difficult thing I find is the suspension and steering. It was really difficult to fit in all the required things in the width available. The first time I built the front axle it was too wide. The second time it was also too wide. The third time it was the right width, but the engine didn’t fit. The fourth time the engine fit, but it was too tall. The fifth time the engine fit, but it was too long, and the gearbox didn’t fit. It was only on the sixth go that the engine, suspension, steering and gearbox all fit in the required space.

The body came together relatively quickly. Making it removable assisted in the building process by giving me two separate pieces (the body and chassis) to work on at different times, and avoid some of the parts spaghetti that comes from building and rebuilding so many times.