How’s this for an incongruous sight? Here we have a Tesla Model S steaming past while making some rumbly V8 noises. This is ‘Ice-T’ (geddit?), the world’s first V8-swapped Tesla. The subject of around two years of development and building, Rich Rebuilds’ project is not some slapdash effort – it’s the real deal and suitable for all kinds of driving. Such as…the school run and the McDonald’s drive-through.
The car made its public debut at the SEMA show a few weeks back, but since the completion of the build came down to the wire, we haven’t had a chance to see the car in action until now. And yes, amidst the errand running we do get to see a few full bore passes.
The source of the sound is a General Motors LS3 borrowed from a Chevrolet Camaro. The Model S it lives in was destined for the scrap heap thanks to severe flood damage, and as a sort of comment on the difficulty of getting replacement Tesla batteries and motors, Rich and the team decided to dump in the V8 instead of trying to restore the car to its original condition.
Another wrecked Model S lent a lot of its electrical gubbins, mixing with a huge number of custom fabricated parts. The exhaust system is bespoke, the transmission tunnel had to be made from sections of a Model S donor’s floor (the Camaro’s steel tunnel was no good for the Tesla’s aluminium structure) and the prop/driveshafts are all one-off parts.
The original plan was to keep Ice-T looking stock, but flying under the radar isn’t exactly what you do at SEMA. So, it received a wrap, aftermarket wheels and air suspension, the latter sorting out the lofty ride height – the standard suspension is set up for a lot more weight.
The car is about there, and as we can see in an overview after Ice T is done impressing the staff of a local Chevrolet dealership, the fit and finish is superb. Next up it’ll need a more comprehensive tune, which will include a dyno run.