The notion that there might one day be vehicles for sale that are part BMW and part Toyota is outright ridiculous.
Oh, wait. Yes, that Supra and Z4 thing.
But that’s not really an entirely original idea, it turns out. One great example comes from Alabama, where some high school students took two destroyed cars — a BMW 3 Series and a Toyota pickup — and turned them into one unique creation.
The Career Technical Educational Center in Shelby County, Alabama, trains high school students in a variety of technical disciplines. The students, usually 16 or 17 years old, can learn everything from building construction to robotics. This excellent truck build is the brainchild of CTEC’s Automotive Technology program, and it’s three years in the making.
I reached out to the program’s instructor, Robert Irwin, and the story he told about the build is one of the most heartwarming things I’ve heard in a long while.
The Automotive Technology program teaches its students to work on electrical, engines, steering, suspension and other mechanical components of cars. So how do students learning how to fix engines and suspension get into bodywork? Well, it started with a challenge to turn two destroyed cars into one functional vehicle.
The parking lot for the auto tech program had a red 1987 BMW 325i with a blown engine and a silver 2001 Toyota Tacoma with heavy crash damage. The Tacoma was donated to the program in 2017.
Irwin told me that he pondered over the broken vehicles and wondered what they would look like if combined. I feel like many great builds start off this way. These vehicles would normally be bound for a scrapyard, but the CTEC students remade them into one cool working vehicle.
Weirdly, BMW itself had a similar idea back in 1986, Road & Track reports. BMW Motorsport cut up a convertible 3 Series and fitted a diamond plate bed aft of the front seats.
Combining the face of a BMW with the body of a Toyota is no easy task. Plans were made, and both vehicles were rolled into the shop. The BMW front end was harvested, and the Tacoma had all of its crash damage removed.
From there, the students began welding brackets and fabricating framework on the Tacoma’s front end so it would accept the BMW panels. They even grafted on the BMW’s core support!
Eventually, the class was ready to mount the fenders, bumper, accessories and hood. The students could have stopped there, but their truck was mash-up of colors.
After giving the Tacoma the pretty face of a BMW, the students got to work cleaning up the body and prepping the truck for paint. They sanded the truck from top to bottom and fixed imperfections with metalwork and body filler.
The students also removed the bed from the truck and replaced its fuel pump.
When the students finished with their bodywork, the truck was sent to CTEC’s collision repair technology instructor, Mark McCary, who painted it white.
I love the attention to detail on this build. It’s not just a BMW E30 bolted to a Toyota. The frame was given a fresh coat of paint, as were the wheels.
The Toyota isn’t perfect. Eagle-eyed readers will spot panels that don’t exactly match and panels that don’t line up. The students ran into some needs along the way, like learning how to weld and how to do bodywork as they built the truck. They also encountered the same issues the rest of us do, like forgetting what part goes where.
But remember, this build was completed by 16-year-olds without training in bodywork. It’s pretty amazing! The program named the completed build Germanese L-Camino, which puts a smile on my face. The build took about three years to complete with about 50 students working on it. Only about $600 was spent.
Irwin says that the finished Tacoma runs and drives great. It turns heads everywhere, and the truck has already won a regional award. The Toyota has a lot of shows in its future. CTEC auto tech program’s build was already on display at the Birmingham Zamora Shrine Wheelz Car Show and it’s expected to make an appearance at the Alabama Auto Show, too.
It’ll get a slick wrap before then to make it look even more epic. Irwin also tells me that the truck will be submitted to SkillsUSA to showcase the hard work that the students put into the build.
The Germanese L-Camino looks outstanding. It’s only a lowering kit and some BMW taillights away from absolute perfection. Irwin is proud of the work done, proof that teenagers can do some exceptional things when they’re given the tools and know-how.