ESPN: "$500 Craigslist Rally Car" Didn't Cost Much More Than $500

Illustration for article titled ESPN: $500 Craigslist Rally Car Didnt Cost Much More Than $500

ESPN magazine talked to Bill Caswell, the man behind our $500 Craigslist rally car story, to get the skinny on what he needed to make it happen. He's also on the network's blog. Here's what it takes, kids.


ESPN's Patrick Cain wrote a small sidebar on Caswell's WRC Mexico entry for the April 19 edition (the one with Jimmy Clausen on the cover) of the network's magazine. In it, they detail the cost of building a $500 Craigslist car into something suitable for a world-class rally. Some of these steps include:

  • Add a four-point racing harness ($100)
  • Install a pair of used racing seats ($200)
  • Pick up a fire extinguisher (found around the house, free)
  • Construct a roll cage (Caswell taught himself and built his own — so free, or a couple hundred dollars' worth of tubing — but if you can't, expect to spend $2000–$5000)
  • Install — or be prepared to fix by the side of the road — fresh stock control arms, brakes, battery, radiator, etc. In other words, everything Caswell didn't do and then later was forced to repair by the side of the road.

Full disclosure: Caswell claims not to have added up his dollar figure for the rally, and we believe him. Hell, we helped him build the car, and if there's more than $4000 worth of parts in that crapcan, we're a monkey's oversteerin' uncle. So, you know, it's easy. What are you waiting for?

Update: For all of you who asked, no, the engine that Caswell used in his car was not free. It was a stock, high-mileage S14 four-cylinder taken from a 1988 BMW M3. Bill got his from a friend for next to nothing, but on the open market, it would probably be worth around $2500.


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Looks like creative accounting isn't limited to wall street. Any time someone touts a project car they built for "next to nothing" or an indie movie they shot "on a shoestring", you can be pretty certain they are not including the value of labor mooched off friends, family, old favors being cashed in... or any of the materials that were picked out of the work parts bin or otherwise sourced at well below market value. With these sorts of ultra-low budget claims, I figure you can safely add on an extra 0 to the end and get much closer to the true cost. Case in point, the $500 rally car with a $2500 free engine and $2000 free rollcage... works right out $500(0) real dollars. And that is still somewhere on the low side of what the true cost was.

For the record, what people like Caswell do under such a tight budget is amazing, but don't deceive yourself into thinking you can do the same without also claiming a lot of freebies.