Top 10 Tesla-Powered EV Conversions
Eye-candy alert. Tesla powertrains are lurking behind these unlikely EVs.
More than 350,000 Tesla vehicles have been sold in the US since 2010. So countless of the company’s high-powered EV motors are available in the aftermarket world. They’re just waiting for ingenious vehicle builders to make some EV magic.
It’s a three-step process: remove the motor from a wrecked Tesla, pair it up with a suitable battery pack, and drop it into an automotive classic. Or maybe a dune buggy or power boat.
Click through the images for a countdown of the top 10 Tesla EV conversions.
Imagine 4,000 pound-feet of torque. That’s the grunt promised by car builder Dylan Coleman of StreetFighterLA in his converted electric Porsche. It debuted at last year’s 2018 SEMA aftermarket car show.
Coleman was already working with EV West, a leading EV-conversion company, when a neighbor expressed interest in selling the 1977 911 Coupe. StreetFigherLA, EV West, and famed RWB tuner Akira Nakai teamed up to convert it to electric power. The iconic engine note from a Porsche flat-six is gone. But in its place is the glorious hum of a 420-kW Tesla Performance drive unit. Juice is provided by a 32-kWh LG Chem liquid-cooled battery pack.
1949 Mercury EV Derelict
ICON, a highly skilled LA-based auto-restoration company, also showed up at last year’s SEMA aftermarket event. Gearheads admired the lovely rust-accented 1949 Mercury coupe, but jaws dropped when they saw its 85 kilowatt-hour Tesla battery pack.
The batteries are dispersed throughout the vehicle to maintain an optimal weight balance. The controller is secured in a custom aluminum enclosure under the hood. Open the Merc’s original gas flap, and you’ll find a Tesla Supercharger inlet.
2006 Honda ModelS2000
The Honda S2000 is a coveted entry-level track and tuner car. But the cute roadster was turned into a rear-wheel-drive, compact beast when the André family get their hands on it. The family owns and runs Quebec-based Véhicules Électriques, an EV dealership and service center. In-house technicians collaborated on the project with Jason Hughes of 057 Technology, a North Carolina firm specializing in aftermarket Tesla components.
The entire rear axle of the S2000 was replaced with a Tesla Model S axle, including its drive unit and brakes. Power is supplied by a P100D motor with energy stored in two Chevy Volt battery packs. The builders said they put in extra welding time to ensure that massive electric torque didn’t tear the S2000’s body apart. The 650-horsepower Honda reaches 60 mph in less than 2.5 seconds.
2017 Tesla-Kia Cobra
A team of racing enthusiasts, dubbed EPower Racing, designed a chassis and roll cage to make room for a custom electric powertrain in a Cobra 427. The Vancouver-based group used a Tesla Model S85 motor for propulsion. It’s rated at 310 kW (415 horsepower), but during race events the team runs it around 200 kilowatts.
EPower used a custom limited slip differential for low-speed traction. For energy storage, the team chose a 30 kilowatt-hour, 400-pound Kia Soul battery pack. “It has the highest energy density of any EV battery pack,” said EPower Racing.
2010 Audi-Tesla S5
Samuel Polyak, a New Jersey-based mechanic and EV-converter, turned a 2010 Audi S5 into a gorgeous all-wheel-drive German electric sedan. Polyak separated the Tesla drive unit and inverter to make it fit in the Audi’s front engine bay. To retain the Quattro setup, Polyak created a custom gear-reduction.
The sleek S5 is now packed with an estimated 500-hp powertrain. The range is more than 200 miles. If you like what you see, Polyak will do a conversion for you. Details at polykup.com.
2016 Tesla-Powered Speed Boat
Texas-based boater and EV fan Scott Masterson combined his two loves to create a Tesla-powered speedboat. He bought a 2016 Bayliner 175 Bowrider and immediately pulled out its 3-liter Mercruiser engine – swapping in an HPEVS three-phase, sealed marine electric motor.
What did he use for energy storage? Tesla modules, of course. They were pulled from a Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Masterson said the boat pack contains 330 cells, arranged in eight modules, configured for 24 kilowatt-hours of capacity. “These work particularly well in 48-volt marine and cart applications,” he wrote on his EValbum page.
1981 Teslonda Accord
What happens when you take the body of 1981 Honda Accord and stuff it with the powertrain of a Tesla Model S P85? Jim Belosic, the owner of a software company and self-proclaimed hot-rodder, found out.
The horsepower multiplies by 10 to about 535 ponies. The motor, inverter, and subframe came from the Model S. He used a Chevy Volt battery pack to supply power. The inspiration was Belosic’s high-school hoopty, a lightweight early 1980s Honda sedan now able to zip from zero to 60 miles per hour in about 2.7 seconds.
1979 Tesla-Porsche 911 Roadster
In 2017, UK-based Electric Classic Cars completed a ground-up restoration of a 1979 Porsche 911 E. The classic was transformed to run on electricity – thanks to a 54-kWh battery pack transplanted from a Tesla Roadster.
The Porsche EV can reaches 60 mph from a standstill in about 5.5 seconds – a level of acceleration matched by the Model 3. Except for the exceptionally quiet ride and empty engine bay, the 911 E is a dead ringer for a classic 911.
2018 Tesla Sand Truck Racer
Builder Don Swadley worked with Stealth EV, an electric-vehicle tech company in Oceanside, Calif., to amp up his dune racer. It’s now equipped with an electric motor from a wrecked 2015 Tesla Model S.
The truck is a svelte 2,600 pounds. The Tesla Performance RWD setup was refurbished for sand duties by 057 Technology. The Ludicrous-mode-capable motor from a 2015 Tesla combines with an Enerdel lithium-ion 22 kilowatt-hour battery pack for about 30 miles’ worth of antics in the sand.
TesFalia (2013 to Present)
Otmar Ebenhoech, a Westfalia nut and EV enthusiast, has been working on Tesla-powered Vanagons at least since 2013. Based on the most recent posts to his website and YouTube channel, Ebenhoech continues to juggle multiple EV-conversion projects including the TesFalia and the creative reuse of a wrecked 2011 Nissan LEAF.
The most outrageous of his efforts was the Teslification of two VW buses that had been welded into a single stretched camping limo. Work on the Stretchla, as Ebenhoech called it, has been set aside. For now.