Not So Green: TESLA Model S Gets An LS Swap

A couple of weeks ago, General Motors changed its logo to represent the future of going green with electric vehicles (EV). Then last week, the company announced that by 2035 they would discontinue gas and diesel vehicles’ sales. As you can imagine, some of the performance industry was not too keen on this news. You can check out our Facebook feed if you don’t believe us. So what should one do in a time of crisis where car manufacturers and the government are pushing for green energy and electric vehicles? LS swap one, of course! 

At first, there was not much room for combustible engine fun in the front of the TESLA Model S. However, with the strut support cut out and the massive electric rack and pinion out of the way, the 6.2 fits like a glove.

We are pretty much convinced that you can put an LS into just about 90-percent of the vehicles out there. With that said, when the guys at Rich Rebuilds started on an LS swapping a Tesla, it was evident that this one should not be on the list of the easiest LS swaps. Because the cars are electric, they are missing just about everything needed to make for a simple engine swap. There’s no cooling system, no fuel system, no motor mounts, no transmission tunnel, and no drivetrain. To make matters worse, you need to be an electrical engineer to figure out what wires you need and which ones you don’t, and somehow solve the dilemma of an aftermarket ECU that will communicate with the factory gauges. While we like the idea of this swap, we are certainly glad we are not the ones making it happen. 

The team is going to have their hands full with extensive fabrication work to get the body boxed back in over the 6-speed transmission.

The first problem with the LS Tesla was engine fitment. The guys bought a 6.2-liter engine out of a 2010 Camaro SS mated to a 6-speed gearbox, which ultimately made the swap even more difficult since the Tesla was never offered as a manual for obvious reasons. Now the first video doesn’t show what mods were needed to stuff the LS in between the fenders of the Tesla but it did fit with some modifications. The guys removed the strut brace and changed it to a manual steering rack in place of the electric one for additional clearance. 

In the second video, we get a glimpse of what needs to be removed to slap a manual transmission in a Tesla Model S, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Because there’s no transmission tunnel, to begin with, the guys need to fabricate one. And the amount of material removed from the interior of the car would make most non-fabricators squeamish. However, like most cars, it’s made of metal and can be welded back up as needed. 

The LS fits surprisingly well after a few modifications to the engine compartment.

Rich and the guys have a long road ahead of them on this build and have only figured out a few pieces of the puzzle so far. It will be interesting to see how they handle the cooling system and drivetrain in future videos. You can follow along on their YouTube channel here as the build progresses. 

 

 

 

About the author

Brian Havins

A gearhead for life, Brian is obsessed with all things fast. Banging gears, turning wrenches, and praying while spraying are just a few of his favorite things.
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