The availability of electric vehicles is providing fun new ways to build hot rods. Take the guts of a Tesla or a Zero motorcycle and stick the parts into basically anything for instant fun. But you don’t often see electric cars sporting gasoline engines.
Rich Benoit of the Rich Rebuilds YouTube Channel is here to help change that.
Rich is famous for fixing broken Teslas and for his advocacy on right-to-repair issues. Lately, he has been diversifying the content of his YouTube channel to include internal combustion shenanigans, too. Doing that has angered some Tesla fans, but the results have been amazing.
Rich and his friends are now doing what I think is their craziest project yet: creating the first running, driving V8-swapped Tesla Model S.
The idea to create a gas-powered Tesla isn’t new. In 2015, East Bay Muscle Cars got some attention just for mocking it up, even if the engine was never hooked up to anything. Rich Rebuilds is going all the way, and it’s a wild project.
In true Rich Rebuilds fashion, they’re starting with a couple of dead Teslas and a pile of parts. The V8 is a 6.2-liter LS3 engine lifted from a Chevrolet Camaro SS. It’s good for 426 horspower, a good amount of fun. They’ll also make use of the Camaro’s transmission and differential.
The team got to work by tearing apart a destroyed white Model S to collect parts. There was not much left of the car when they started, as another YouTuber, Plainrock124, had previously obliterated it.
As you would expect with a build like this, there were a number of roadblocks. They wanted to use the donor Camaro’s transmission tunnel to provide some support for the Tesla’s unibody. But they ran into a snag because the Camaro tunnel is steel, which could not be welded to the Tesla’s aluminum structure. They decided to use the aluminum floorpan from one of the Tesla donor cars to create a new transmission tunnel.
They also had to modify the rear subframe to accommodate the differential, and the strut brace had to be cut out to fit the engine. But golly, they actually did it!
Rich and his friends have a long way to go, but when they’re finished they’ll have one of the craziest builds around. Watch the video, it’s some good fun!