Rich Benoit Is Trying to Put a V8 Engine in a Tesla, With Good Reason

Electric conversions are common. EV to gas conversions? Not so much.

Tesla model s red
Why would you ever put a gas engine in an electric Tesla? Ask Rich Benoit.

EV conversions — that is, gas cars that have been rebuilt with electric power — are common. We’ve probably written about more electric vehicle conversions than new electric cars, from modular platforms offered by trustworthy shops like Zero Labs to noteworthy one-offs like the Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce

Gas conversions — electric vehicles that have been rebuilt with internal combustion engines — are not common at all. In fact, we can’t recall ever hearing about someone taking this undertaking seriously, and can’t think of a reason anyone would ever want to take it seriously. Until now.

As we speak, Rich Benoit is attempting to put a V8 LS engine into a Tesla Model S. Benoit is more commonly known as Rich Rebuilds, which is the name of his popular YouTube channel — and that’s where you’ll find a video of the entire process, which is still in the works.

Why would Benoit ever want to take on this project? Is he a masochist? Does he hate electric vehicles so much that he wants to swap in exhaust-spewing engines at any cost, both financial and mental? On the contrary, he’s a self-avowed EV enthusiast and finds joy in all the headaches that come with long-shot automotive projects. 

His reasoning for the EV-to-gas conversion is completely, miracuously sound. In the most fundamental sense, the reason you see so many gas-to-EV conversions is that electric cars on the whole are simpler machines with fewer moving parts and fluids. Thus, going the other way is a monumental challenge. But as Benoit says in the video, the reason he’s taking it on is because Tesla, unlike legacy automakers, doesn’t sell parts for its vehicles. If you have a Model S that’s been submerged in sewage (like Benoit does) and want to rebuild it, Elon Musk’s outfit recommends just buying a brand new one instead. That’s not a very sustainable mindset. So Benoit is trying to prove a point that you don’t need to send a supposedly totaled Tesla to the junkyard — you can just swap in a gas engine, the parts for which are readily available. 

Can he prove that point, though? That remains to be seen, as his first video ends in a cliffhanger. But while we’re waiting for the next video, we suggest taking a gander at Benoit’s latest upload: a look at the Sherp, a Russian off-road monster that we got to test drive almost a year ago.

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