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The bijou boxer: we build a miniature model Porsche flat six

Published: 17 April 2017

► The miniature Porsche flat six
► Quarter-scale model boxer engine
► 
We build the toy motor by Franzis

Is there any better way to understand internal combustion engines than building one? Getting your hands greasy, nails chipped and knuckles skinned, vetting valvegear, tweaking timing belts and punching pistons?

The next best thing might just be this scale model by German educational toy maker Franzis. Not only does it show how a petrol engine works, it focuses on one of the finest motors of the past half century: the Porsche 911 flat six.

Click here to see a quick video snapshot of the build process

How a Porsche flat six works: the scale model

It’s distributed in Britain by Trends UK and costs around £99 on Amazon. A pricey toy, then, but one we can attest is worth its weight in plastic. It might just convert curious children into the engineers of tomorrow - and, if not, then it’ll certainly pique grown-ups’ interest too.

280 parts go into the Franzis flat-six Porsche model engine

It took us 4-5 hours to assemble; we attempted it with an eight- and 10-year-old. Franzis recommends it’s for 10+ but our two coped well with adult supervision.

Read CAR magazine's real Porsche reviews here

Is it easy to make?

Special mention to the 40-page instruction leaflet - one of the best guides we’ve seen to any scale model, with clear illustrations and excellent English throughout. Only in a couple of places were we left wanting more detail.

Instruction manual for Porsche flat-six scale model

The 280 parts are delivered mostly in sproules, like an Airfix model, so you twist them off and then file the plastic attachments for a smooth finish. It’s well made, precisely engineered and every part fits just like it should. 

Once assembled, the engine is battery powered, spinning slowly to show the reciprocating pistons, crankshaft, cams, valves and spark plugs gently glowing in the correct firing order. The tinny, artificially produced engine noise is perhaps the weakest link in the whole set-up.

An early air-cooled Porsche 911 engine: type 901  

This is the flat six overseen by Zuffenhausen engineering maestro Hans Mezger and the model faithfully replicates the 1991cc overhead camshaft version that powered early 911s. 

Assembling the Porsche flat-six pistons and crankshaft

Because you start from scratch, building the cylinders, conrods and gudgeon pins - attaching them to the realistic crankshaft, inserting them in the cylinder barrels and building up the crankcase - you really get to grips with how an internal combustion engine operates.

And as if the act of building a flat six from scratch isn’t education enough, a handy three-page appendix explains the rudimentaries of petrol power to feed curious young minds.

Verdict

This model comes heartily recommended by CAR magazine. It’s great fun, highly educational and our kind of engineering exhibit. Sitting on a plinth, this is one model you’ll keep, watch and learn from for years to come.

More car culture stories by CAR magazine 

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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