Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 4 months ago 1
Tuning

Here's The First-Ever V8-Swapped Tesla Firing Up

Rich Rebuilds' immensely labour-intensive V8-transplanted Model S has been started up for the first time, but there's still a long way to go

Remind me later

Don’t be fooled by that image doing the rounds on the Internet a few years ago - as far as we know, no one has ever V8-swapped a Tesla Model S. The picture in question was a gag made with some Tesla-themed office furniture, rather than the real deal. The reason it’s never been done? It’s ridiculously difficult.

Serial Tesla tinkerer Rich Rebuilds has been working on the world’s first V8-powered Tesla for months, using a pair of wrecked examples. One was badly damaged by floodwater, the other vandalised by another YouTuber for… reasons.

Last time we wrote about the project, the General Motors LS3 V8 had been dry-fitted after the car’s standard strut tower bar was hacked away to make room. Complicating things further, the steel transmission tunnel from the Camaro donor car was no good on the flood-damaged Tesla’s aluminium floor. The solution? Fabricating one using chunks of the vandalised Model S donor’s floor.

Fast forward to May, and the engine is now plumbed in (well, mostly, the fuel tank is a plastic canister with a Mazda MX-5 pump poking through the top), and running on its own electrical system. And yes, it’s ready to fire up.

The magic moment comes at around the 24-minute mark, although we’d recommend watching the whole shebang, since it’s such a fascinating project. The engine’s still using a very basic map and was deliberately run rich, which made for a few flames.

Next up, Rich and the team need to think about exhaust manifolds and fitting the beefy custom propshaft, which we’re shown later in the video. Custom axles are also being made.

Once finished, this thing’s going to be awesome.