sets instructions boxes stickers minifigs
articles library mocs apps

DB class 103

Electric locomotive
480 pieces, 1 minifig

Fouke Boss
December 2021


Set 7740 and the Deutsche Bahn class 103

When I rekindled my interest for the LEGO 12v trains after my dark ages, one of the first things I discovered was that the LEGO design for set 7740 had been based on the German Trans Europ Express "Rheingold", with the 7740 locomotive being an attempt to recreate the DB class 103 (Baureihe 103) locomotive.

Deutsche Bahn, class 103 (1970)

I had always liked the DB class 103 in particular, and I was lucky enough to own set 7740 as a kid, but I had never made the connection between the two. First and foremost this was because of the colors and the shape of the 7740 locomotive. Instead of the creme/tan color, LEGO used the available yellow. And instead of the dark red of the original BR103, LEGO used plain red. And LEGO had only so many parts available at the time to capture the curves of the front of BR 103.

7740 locomotive (1980)

Of course, once you're aware, the similarities become apparent: the top-bottom color scheme, the location of the smaller windows next to the main windows, the grey vents on the side of the locomotive (which the 7740 includes as grey windows), the grey color on the central part of the roof, and the red detail in the pantographs.

Redesigning the 7740 locomotive

But I started to wonder what the locomotive of set 7740 would have looked like if LEGO had had all the colors and parts at their disposal in 1980 that are available now (2021). A quick search on the internet shows that I'm certainly not the first to attempt such a design, and there are some really great and accurate designs out there. But I specifically wanted to retain that very typical grey-era 1980s look and feel. So this is what I came up with.

The biggest challange was to get a nice rendition of the curvy front of the locomotive, which I was able to create using a combination of regular and snot techniques. LEGO does not produce the 1980s doors in tan/dark red, so for the doors I had to prioritize aesthetics over functionality. The design adheres to the somewhat quirky proportions of 1980s LEGO trains (real-life trains are usually wider and longer) and is equipped with the well-known 1980s pantographs.

Comparison to the original 7740

LEGO Eisenbahnwelt

Interestingly enough, about a year after completing this design I bought myself a copy of this new 2022 book by Holger Matthes, LEGO Eisenbahnwelt (in German), which is all about the grey-era trains of the 1980s. To my surprise, I found my own name (although slightly misspelled) on page 228, together with the instructions of a class 103 design very similar to my original design!

What had happened? Someone on Facebook had started building my exact design, but he changed the colors back into the yellow-and-red color scheme of 7740. This in turn inspired Holger Matthes to do a yellow-and-red version of his own, which he included in his latest book.

The DB class 103 by Holger Matthes, based on my design.

I like some of the changes Holger Matthes did, like the improved doors and the retracted handles. Fitting the model with a Powered Up motor in a book on 12v 1980s LEGO trains must surely have been the publisher's choice.

In order to rotate the box, use either 1. the space bar, 2. the numeric keys 0-9, 3. the arrow keys, or 4. use the mouse to rotate (left mouse button) and zoom (mouse wheel) the box. Double-click to open and close the lid. Press Esc to close the viewer..