YouTuber Rich Benoit has been spending much of 2021 making an absurd goal a reality. Benoit and his friends have turned a flood-damaged car into the world’s first V8-powered Tesla. The masterpiece has finally hit the road. Let’s check out the work that went into building it.
The last time we checked on Benoit and his friends, they had reached the important milestone of simply shoehorning a 6.2-Liter LS3 V8 from a Chevrolet Camaro in and getting it started. ICE-T or Internal Combustion Engine Tesla, fired up into life using a standalone ECU, a Miata fuel pump, a fuel filter for a Corvette and gas fed from a bucket. Since then, Benoit finished the car and took it to SEMA. Now, he’s explaining what all went into making this work.
I know a lot of people are scratching their heads right now. A gas-powered Tesla? Why would anyone do that? Putting a V8 in a Tesla isn’t going to make it faster and it defeats the purpose of going green. But for Benoit, that really wasn’t the point; he put a V8 into a Tesla just because he could.
Benoit started with a Model S trashed by a Texas flood. He originally wanted to restore it but figured he’s already done that before. Tesla wouldn’t sell him a powertrain, anyway. Thus, the ICE-T project was born. The idea wasn’t just to build a gas-powered Tesla, but to have one that looked somewhat stock.
The donor Camaro gave its 426-horspower V8, six-speed manual and differential. Getting the engine in required the car’s strut brace to be cut and the rear subframe had to be modified to fit the differential.
Assisting in the build was a donor Model S obliterated by YouTuber Plainrock124. This car was used for whatever it could give. Amazingly, they even used the screens from that car. The boards behind those screens were damaged, but the team was able to get a gauge cluster and a working MCU from the parts of a bunch of broken screens.
In the final stages a transmission tunnel was fabricated and the car was put back together, including a tangle of wiring harness and the interior.
The end result is impressive. Save for the sequential shifter, the gear indicator, and the Haltech Display Dash for the standalone ECU, the interior looks like that of any other Tesla Model S. The screens even work, save for all of the errors from the car no longer having an EV drivetrain. Benoit wanted the car to look even more stock where the ECU display wouldn’t be needed, but they found working Tesla’s software a bit difficult.
Outside, the only visual cue that this Model S is a bit different is the side-exit exhaust. Benoit and his team went so far as to put the car’s filler neck where the charge port used to be.
The car runs and drives, but there are a few issues that need to be ironed out. It currently has an issue keeping charge and the team would love to replace the belt-driven water pump for an electric one. The car also needs to be tuned before it heads to a dyno.
The build is a bit daft and it’s bound to make some people mad, but it’s no less a feat. It’s not just an engine crammed into the body of a Tesla, but a car that could probably be a daily. A Chevy dealership even did the car’s first oil change. Watch Rich Rebuilds for the full build of this thing!