Electric rebuilds/restomods – where older cars get fitted with new electric powertrains – are all the rage now, thanks to the availability of off-the-shelf after market EV powertrains these days. Petrol engines in EVs, however, are a lot rarer – but that’s exactly what Rich Benoit from the YouTube channel Rich Rebuilds did, by building the world’s first V8-powered Tesla Model S. And yes, it’s as crazy as it sounds.
This is ‘ICE-T’ (get it?), a Tesla Model S with a loud and “crude” Chevy LS3 V8 engine underneath its bonnet. And if you ever wondered why you don’t see these mods more often, well, the video above shows you exactly why.
The project took Rich Rebuilds more than two years to reach the stage it’s currently in, and it’s still not completed just yet. In order to fit the engine into the “frunk” of the Tesla, the team even had to custom-fabricate an entire exhaust system, plus a transmission tunnel made from sections of another donor Model S’s floor panels, and one-off drive shafts.
And then there’s the endless wirings to go through in order to make the car’s electrical systems play nice with an engine underneath its bonnet. To prep for the vehicle’s debut, the team also gave it a brown copper vinyl wrap (as a play on its name), larger wheels, plus a set of after market suspensions as the stock ones are tuned for a significantly higher weight.
All that hard work paid off when Benoit’s ICE-T became the showstopper at this year’s SEMA Show a couple of weeks back, and exploded several Tesla fanboys’ heads online.
Now that the show is over, the team finally had the opportunity to properly drive it around on city streets to carry out some “errands” – and their work even impressed a local Chevrolet service centre, who will be carrying out the car’s first oil change!
After the show, next up on Rich Benoit’s long list of to-dos is to finally sort out the engine’s tuning, to bring it up to its full potential. That should include a dyno run, too, which will be fun to see how it compares against the original electric car’s figures!