Savage. This is probably the word that best describes a custom-built Tesla that’s en route to setting multiple precedents, such as the world’s first diesel-swapped Tesla. However, the crew behind the project, which is aptly nicknamed the Model D, has now disclosed another first, with the contraption set to become the first six-wheeled Tesla out there.
The Tesla Model D started taking shape two months ago, when Rich Rebuilds, the YouTube channel behind it, released a clip showcasing the Model Y that was used as the starting point.
Unlike a previous project of the label, the ICE-T LS-swapped Model S, the ongoing build did have a functional battery pack when the crew got a hold of it, but repairing the crashed vehicle wasn’t worth it.
So, instead of the floor being occupied by the said battery, this is now empty and resting on a chassis from a 1980s Chevy truck—nicknamed Squared Body, this iteration of the GM workhorse has seen its custom car popularity heading towards the sky in the past few years—one of the wackiest projects of the sort is the… Tesla-swapped C10 built by Salvage to Salvage, which debuted last November at SEMA, but we digress.
Can’t wait to see the Tesla Model D towing
The frame is a key element here, since, as one of the previous Model D videos has shown, this will be turned into some sort of pickup truck that will be used for towing.
Speaking of which, the latest episode of the build saga, which just hit social media and awaits you below, sees the machine borrowing the Chevy truck’s front and rear axles.
And the key here is the rear hardware, which brings a dually setup to the game—this is the path the team chose instead of the three-axle lunacy some enthusiasts prefer when the said number of wheels is mentioned. Then again, any complaints on the matter would clearly be overshadowed by the voices of EV advocates.
The crew also brings the previously-purchased Cummins 4BT oil burner next to the Model D. Lifted off a bread truck, this four-cylinder turbodiesel is famous for its reliability, which tuners fully exploit to leave the unimpressive factory specs behind and deliver meaty output numbers.
The engine, together with the manual transmission whose shifter will probably protrude through the center console—the idea is to keep as many exterior and interior Tesla parts as possible—weigh around 1,100 lbs, as the crew explains in the video.
Now, simply placing the body of the Model Y on top of the 35-year-old Chevy chassis would result in a sort of monster truck-like appearance, which is not what this project is about.
Instead, the guys will have to cut into the body for a more thorough integration, so there’s still plenty of work to be done—by the way, when you see Home Depot mentioned in the video, remember how this guy built a Datsun 280ZX using bits and pieces from this source.
And while much of the project relies on cutting (e.g., the firewall) and fabrication, the Model D also needs new parts to replace those damaged in the accident it suffered before landing in the hands of Rich Rebuilds.
However, with the team working to beat other builders coming up with aftermarket Tesla firsts, and Tesla’s own Cybertruck, we could meet the finished Model D at the 2022 SEMA show.
There’s more to this build than simply welding stuff together and making it look smooth
Rich Benoit, who co-founded the channel—currently at 1.3M subscribers—with Carl Hewitt, started rebuilding Teslas a couple of years ago.
And it didn’t take long for the enthusiast’s independent EV repair shop to make a statement against Tesla’s caste-like policy.
The Palo Alto company not only limits customers’ ability to have the car fixed independently but also keeps firm control over spare parts and can impact the vehicle’s performance and features using over-the-air updates. The vast Supercharger network? One can be banned from it.
However, as things progressed, Benoit moved from simply rebuilding Teslas to make ownership more affordable and decentralized to turning them, as well as other cars, into wacky haulers like the in-the-making Model D. And it looks like things can only get more ludicrous (pun intended) from here.