Bill Caswell and his $500 Craigslist rally car have a new challenge: the Baja 1000. Caswell's heading to SEMA, welding together a Baja E30, then heading to Mexico. He took a break from construction to share his plans with Jalopnik.
Caswell made history and warped minds when he took a beat-up E30 he'd purchased off of Craigslist and, with a mixture of grit and luck, finished an amazing 3rd place in his class at the WRC Raly Mexico. He's attempting to shatter more expectations by racing the first BMW car or truck in the famed and torturous SCORE Baja 1000 rally.
And not just any BMW truck. He's racing a freaking E30 that was a parts donor to the rally car.
"The silver-and-black hood from the original rally car came from this car, it's kind of strange, my autocross car has the engine from it," said Caswell. "This was basically a parts car and after buying most of it he he basically gave me the chassis for free."
This is Caswell's biggest challenge to date because he's promised his sponsor, Miller Electric Manufacturing, he'll weld the main roll cage, front and rear cages, suspension, and other accessories to the car on site at SEMA. This means it has to be designed and partially pre-fabricated in his mom's garage before the car is picked up tomorrow for delivery.
And that's not the end of it.
"I've got ten days from the end of SEMA to make the start of the race, so I'm basically doing all the welding at SEMA and will do all the plumbing along the beach in San Diego," said Caswell. "So far we don't have a shop down there, so unless someone has a shop we're doing it on a public beach."
The first drawings of the car show just how intense this Baja E30's going to be. It'll be sitting on 33x10.5-inch tires with a rear track, hub-to-hub almost as wide as the car. The motor's a 3.0-liter inline-six out of a a 1995 M3 putting power through a differential and drive/halfshafts used on off-road buggies.
"It's kind of like a pickup truck in back. The thing is really small and we've got a 32-gallon fuel cell that fills out the backseat... I need to get a license plate that says FIREBOMB."
On the phone, Caswell sounds excited but a little exhausted. He's not even officially entered in the race and he's still got to build the rest of the car and ship it to Vegas, San Diego, and then the Baja. Then he has to drive it.
"It's about getting off the sofa, rather than watching TV at night, just taking a few baby steps towards building dreams."
Caswell credits his friends for helping him build the car piece-by-piece and already has another famous race in mind.
"My next goal is the 24 Hours of Nurbürgring."