Building an Alfa Romeo F1 car in 1:8 scale

Lionel Kong
Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

The big Alfa Romeo C42 Formula 1 car from Chinese maker Cada is a nice surprise in plenty of ways, but a letdown in some others


So we’re used to reviewing real cars here at CarBuyer Singapore, but here’s a change of pace. Brick-built models have been all the rage in the toy and hobby industry for a few years now  and while Lego is the undisputed marketing king at selling its products, lots of other brands are coming up with some innovative designs. Cada is a Chinese brand that started out with some generic brick kits years ago, but is now really taking off with some seriously big licensed car models.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

So, here we are with a build of a Cada brick kit/set. Actually it’s hard to decide, are these kits or sets? Well in the same vein as plastic model kits, we’ll just call them kits. Because no one ever describes a Gundam model kit as a ‘model set’. It just doesn’t sound right. 

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

What’s in the box?

This is the huge model of Alfa Romeo’s 2022 Formula 1 racing car. Even though the real car was something of a brick on the racetrack, this one is significant because it was driven by Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu, China’s first-ever Formula 1 driver. 

Before you begin, it’s good to know that the finished model will take up a lot of real estate. It’s 1:8 scale so that’s just eight times smaller than the real thing, and Formula 1 cars are very big these days.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

There’s more than 1,800 parts, along with more than 70 stickers.

Inside, the wheels and tyres are in one box, while the brick parts, sticker sheets, and instruction manual with more than 200 pages are in another separate box. Both boxes are printed with graphics and the outer box has spot-UV treatment where the image of the car is gloss coated. They really did bother about the presentation here. 

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

It’s not a model that’s designed to be ripped through in a day or two. Even if you did that by not eating or sleeping and spent 24 hours straight clicking plastic bricks together, that really does defeat the purpose of a big kit. They are designed to be assembled over a few weeks, where the process is much more fun than staring at the finished product.

They are really not difficult to build too, as you simply follow the instruction manual on what fits with what, at which location. There’s no guesswork involved. The biggest time sink in these big models is hunting for the right parts, but the kit is sectioned into four numbered collections of bags, so that really helps as you build each section at a time.

One big standout is that the model has properly printed tyres and wheels, unlike the strange  approximation of F1 wheels like that found on the competing Lego McLaren F1 car model. As the wheels form a really huge visual of any F1 car, having them look right really adds to the appeal of the model.

Building the Alfa Romeo C42

Open the kit, follow the instructions, click parts together for 1,800 times or so. And that’s all there is to building a brick-based model.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

Seriously however, the car has operating suspension, steering, DRS rear wing, and also a working differential gear set on the rear axle along with a moving V6 ‘engine’.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

The car’s svelte, complicated shape means that the build uses a lot of unorthodox building techniques that will feel strange, especially if you’ve come from the world of Lego. In that world, many joints on this model would be classed as illegal. But this one does what it needs to get the shape correct.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

The sloping floor pan, the curve over the top of the sidepods, and how the suspension springs pivot against the joints are points that we took notice of the most, but Cada also takes great effort to point out in the manual that the model’s design very closely follows the silhouette of the real one. 

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

Ultimately the compromise is that some sections are only held on by the most tenuous of connecting pins, but then, this car also has a complete undertray, unlike its hollow-bottomed competitor, the Lego McLaren Formula 1 car.

The front wing deserves special mention as it is made out of a dizzying array of parts to get a close approximation of the real car’s.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

The V6 engine also looks very small inside the body, and it’s visible after completion by flipping up the engine cover pieces on both sides. There are six moving pistons that actuate when the car is pushed, but the movement is not very pronounced. 

Cada Alfa Romeo F1 1:8

A working differential gear case sits between the rear wheels, and like in a rear car, allows the wheels to turn at different speeds when it is steered for smoother cornering. What’s a differential? I hear you ask. A quick jump to wikipedia will help you out here.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

We know of many brick model fans that hate stickers with a vengeance, but this one is full of them. There’s a technique to properly apply them without frustration and you can see the video of the build for how to do it.

Yet the plastic/vinyl stickers are too thin, and the white printed parts are translucent when applied onto the plastic, which does spoil the look. This is most obvious at the front wing endplates and on the Italian flag under the rear wing. The stickers are also not very flexible and you have to take care not to twist them or else they no longer stick flat, no matter how much you massage them. If they were more solidly printed there would be a big difference in the overall vibrancy of the model.

There are also minor errors in the instruction manual, primarily with sticker application where it tells you to put them in the wrong spot or upside down. But if you’re observant, the errors are easy to spot.

Should you buy it? 

The main factor here is that it’s a big model, and if you have space constraints at home, this isn’t going to fit. The big plus point is that it’s much cheaper than an equivalent model from Lego, and the parts are actually fully compatible with the standard and Technic range from Lego. 

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

It’s a fragile model on account of its weight and size, but definitely not low on quality, and the parts fitment is as good as anything else you can find. Cada has many other attractive model cars in its series, including a fully licensed Initial D collection. As an alternative to the mainstream brick model brand, and especially for car enthusiasts, we’d say that the smaller Cada brick-built cars definitely look better and even have much more attractive packaging.

As Alfa Romeo has also announced that it will no longer be competing in Formula 1 in 2024, this car is also likely to be phased out of production soon and join the ranks of those ‘collector’s items’ that speculators like to hang on to.

Alfa Romeo F1 model by Cada

You can pick up the Alfa Romeo C42 directly from this link, shipped directly from the Chinese online store: 


alfa romeo Cada F1 Lego Zhou Guanyu

About the Author

Lionel Kong

An old hand from the bad old days of crazy COEs, the straight-shooting, ex-CarBuyer editor is back in the four-wheeled world. Rumours that he went to another country to start a Judas Priest tribute band are unfounded.

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