We’re not sure if Elon Musk likes the idea of one of his Tesla Model S EVs being converted to a V8, but Rich Benoit from Rich Rebuilds certainly thinks there’s a charm to it, while also believing it’s a lot more practical.
What started out as a Tesla submerged in a Texas flood, is now a rip-snorting V8 muscle car that cannot be mistaken for being a Tesla when it charges past someone loud and clear.
Rich has been building various Teslas over the years, soon after which, Tesla fanboys began to reach out to him. When Tesla stopped the public from ordering parts for their cars, it drove him to do a project like this.
Building A Tesla With A V8 Was A Practical Idea
On the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rich Benoit revealed that Tesla’s monopoly on parts led him to build his V8 Tesla. It all started with Rogan asking Benoit what the motivation was behind V8 Tesla build.
It’s the unavailability of parts for the Teslas he was working on, that got him thinking. So to source parts that were easily available, he decided to go all out and plunk in….wait for it, the Chevrolet LS V8. Not practical for the environment, but practical to run and maintain – at least that’s what Benoit thinks of it.
In that way, he’s allowed to get parts off the shelf, because if a Tesla breaks down, there’s no regular accessories store you could reach out to for EV car parts. A V8 Tesla, on the other hand, can be fixed at the side of a road, provided you’ve got the skills to do it.
Pistons, rods, lifters, valves – it’s all available for the V8 anywhere, says Rich Benoit. The big question is, how did he fit a V8 into a Tesla? Every car has an accessory mode, says Rich.
When the engine isn’t on, but some features inside are functioning, the Tesla thinks it’s in accessory mode – and that’s when the lights work, the turn signals work and almost everything else, except the drive rails – and this is where the V8 engine takes over.
According to Rich, V8s are the dumbest engines in existence. All they need is gas and a battery, and you’ve got yourself a running car, and there’s a separate control system for the engine itself.
A Thumping Chevy V8 For The Tesla
The V8 in the Tesla uses a Haltech system that communicates with it. The car has two separate control systems, and if one of the control systems gives up its ghost, the V8 will still function. The Haltech system also controls the gas engine. There are two independent systems that work separately. The dashboard used on his V8 Tesla is the exact same one seen on the original, so everything on the dashboard works.
Sitting inside the V8 Tesla would not be any different from sitting in a regular Model S. The only thing that tells you this thing is special, is the 6-speed sequential stick shift. The engage-and-reverse lever sits on the left of it.
In order to form the transmission tunnel, Rich and his team had to literally cut the car in half, because Teslas being specifically designed as EVs only, you get a completely flat floor – and that meant building a transmission tunnel over the driveshaft from the front to the rear. Everything had to be manufactured, and it took Rich Rebuilds close to two years to show up at SEMA this year with the final product.
Although the budget made Rich a bit hesitant initially, he decided to commit himself to the project, and get it over with, with the help of his friend Joshua, who contributed significantly in terms of fabrication, and Joshua had experience with NASCARs. So Rich trusted Joshua with the whole thing by dropping off the Tesla at his place, while Rich would often go and shoot pictures and videos of the car undergoing a major transformation.
ICE-T V8 Is Lighter Than A Tesla Model S
To ensure the best rigidity, there are structural reinforcements and bracing all over the car – and surprisingly, the ICE-T, as Rich calls it, is 1,200 lbs lighter than the original Model S – and if you think about it, it does make sense, because with the weight of the motors up-front and at the rear, plus the battery that weighs close to 1,000 lbs, the EV is a heavy car.
After having replaced everything, and put in that V8 and a transmission, which is said to be one of the lightest, the Tesla’s weight went from 4,975 lbs to 3,300 lbs – and that’s quite light for a sedan like the Model S.
They also replaced the Tesla’s yoke with conventional steering. Rich also states the car handles well, after having taken it on a track. The car, he says, is light and lots of fun, which had them do a lot of donuts and burnouts.
It may not be as fast as an original Tesla, and it doesn’t have the autopilot mode anymore, but what matters most is just how special it is, considering the ridiculous offers Rich has been getting for the car. The car currently makes about 470hp, and Rich is adding a supercharger to it as well.
Source: PowerfulJRE Via YouTube, Rich Rebuilds Via Instagram and YouTube