Electric cars have opened up a new world of modding, but I’m not sure anyone expected “V8" and “Tesla” to end up paired together. Yet, Rich Rebuilds is here to do just that, and his 6.2-Liter LS3 V8-powered Tesla just had its first start!
The last time we checked on Rich Benoit of the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel, he was in the beginning stages of building what appears to be the first-ever V8-powered Tesla. He gutted a couple of donor Tesla Model S vehicles and test fit the LS3 V8 lifted from a Chevrolet Camaro SS. He’s made a lot of progress since then from installing the donor Camaro’s manual transmission to working through a labyrinth of wiring just to get the car’s computers to fire up. But now the time has come to breathe new life into this dead Tesla.
Now, a common question about this build is: why? Why would Benoit make a Tesla slower and powered by gas? The answer is pretty much because he can. I respect that.
To get the car — named ICE-T (and yes, it means Internal Combustion Engine Tesla) — running, Benoit and his friends hooked up a standalone ECU system from Haltech. That was coupled to a fuel pump scavenged from a Miata with a fuel filter from a Corvette, which fed fuel from a bucket. The setup was as hilariously janky as it was epic.
Benoit explained that there will be two integrations keeping the vehicle running. The first is the standalone Haltech Elite 2500 ECU, which starts, runs and monitors the engine. A screen will allow monitoring of the engine’s vitals. The other integration allows the Tesla to still be usable as a real car. The sunroof will work, as will the body control module, speedometer, doors and more. Basically, this V8-powered Tesla will still work like a Tesla, only it’ll be powered by internal combustion.
Things got even more sketchy as the guys used residential light switches to control fuel, ignition and starting. But not only did it start, it sounds awesome. That engine is good for 426 horsepower, so the completed project will be able to run burnouts for days.
Benoit and his buddies still have a lot of work to do. ICE-T is going to get a side exit exhaust pipe and the shifter for the manual transmission will sprout out where the car’s cupholders would normally be.
This is going to be a working Tesla with a V8 and a manual transmission, which is easily one of the coolest projects on YouTube at the moment. Watch more Rich Rebuilds to see this thing come to life!