Back in the 60’s there was one…well, at least one…Christmas gift I wanted that never made it under the Christmas tree---The Visible V8 model kit.
The Visible V8 model kit from the 1960s was a classic plastic model kit that allowed kids and model making enthusiasts to build a transparent working model of a V8 engine. First introduced by the Revell company in 1961, it proved to be very popular among hobbyists, automotive enthusiasts, and perhaps even a few aspiring mechanics.
The selling point of the kit was that it consisted of clear plastic parts that mimicked the various components of a typical V8 engine of the time that included the cylinders, pistons, connecting rods, crankshaft, camshaft, valves, etc. The idea was to assemble these parts resulting in a working model that replicates the internal workings of a real V8 engine made visible as if you were Superman with x-ray vision.
Once assembled, you could watch the engine's components move and interact when the crankshaft was turned, including flashing LEDs indicating the spark plug ignition sequence during its 4-stroke operation.
For its educational value, The Visible V8 model kit was advertised as a fun way to showcase the basics of how a car engine works.
Over the years…and still today…there are different versions and reissues of The Visible V8 kit, each with its own variations and improvements, some of which include an electric motor to power the plastic mechanical parts rather than a hand crank.
Upping the Visible V8
The genesis of this topic (aside from the approaching holidays) is a recent Smarter Every Day YouTube channel video where the host takes viewers to the home of one creative individual he heard about who had created his own visible V8 using a combination of clear acrylic, a machine lathe, and actual V8 engine parts to recreate a more-adult upscale version of the aforementioned child’s Christmas plastic model kit.
The result is an impressive Visible V8 that comes even closer to replicating how a V8 engine actually works, including the all-important oil lubricating system that is not possible with the toy version.
If not for just the gee-whiz factor of seeing what someone with automotive mechanical knowledge and skills can accomplish with some impressive creativity, the part of the video of the engine running in the dark with its firing sparkplugs is definitely a Christmas lightshow rarely seen and worth waiting for in the video.
That said, here it is for your enjoyment:
This TRANSPARENT ENGINE is Fascinating (How Engines Work) - Smarter Every Day 292
Getting Into the Christmas Spirit of V8 Engines
Just in case the video has motivated you to purchase a Visible V8 model kit for someone special this Christmas, here is a useful V8 model kit review by a model maker who reviews three similar kits (one of which is a Ford Mustang engine) and what to expect from the builds.
I compare 3 Visible V8 Engine Model Kits - Operating Demos + Comments
For an additional article related to learning about how engines work, here is a useful one a step up from the limitations of plastic models titled “Affordable Honda Knockoff for Teaching Kids About Cars.”
Image source: Deposit Photos