Rich Benoit, more widely known by his youtube username RichRebuilds, has been working hard over the past six months or so to create the world’s first Tesla Model S powered by a General Motors LS V8. It’s been a long journey, with the flood-damaged Tesla requiring a ton of cutting and welding in order to accommodate the V8 engine, transmission, driveshaft and other components that it was never designed for.
Benoit reached a major milestone with this ambitious project this week, successfully installing the engine in the front of the battery-electric luxury car and starting the engine for the first time. Rich opted for a 6.2L LS3 V8 for this project, which was pulled out of a wrecked fifth-generation Chevy Camaro SS, along with a Tremec six-speed manual. This should give his converted Tesla plenty of power, with the LS3 producing a healthy 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque in the 2009-2015 Chevy Camaro.
With this milestone behind him, Rich estimates his V8-swapped Tesla Model S is about 50 percent complete. He still has to finish some fairly major aspects of it, including welding the driveshaft tunnel and finding a way to properly route the exhaust from the engine bay to the rear of the vehicle. This might sound fairly easy, but remember, a Tesla was never meant to have a traditional driveshaft or exhausts, so Rich and his team of determined car enthusiasts still have lots of work ahead of them.
Something tells us Rich’s custom build will attract some haters from the Tesla community once it’s complete, but hey, you can’t please everyone. Personally, we love seeing new and original LS swaps, and Rich’s Tesla Model S is nothing if not unique. Check out the video embedded below to hear it startup for the first time and stay tuned as we continue to follow this build through to its completion.