Engine swap enthusiasts may remember the Rich Rebuilds YouTube team. A few weeks ago, they swapped an LS for a Tesla, igniting the internet. Their next project? A Model 3 driven by the most-often changed diesel powertrain, a 4BT Cummins. It’s not the first time an electric vehicle has been mocked; there’s also a 4BT Prius on the market, but it could be the nicest yet. The Model “D,” as it’s being called, features a frame from a Square Body GM and a powertrain from an old bread truck, complete with a 4BT and manual transmission. The aim appears to be to not keep it stock, with performance changes anticipated.
A standard 4BT Cummins isn’t exactly a powerhouse. The industrial production of the compaction lump is 150 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque. It’s also unclear how many miles this specific model has accumulated or how much energy it has sacrificed over the decades. Rich Rebuilds co-host Steven Sadowsky informed me that the engine will be outfitted with wider cylinders, an additional fuel pump, and a higher-flowing turbo.
Initially, the bodywork of the Model 3 must be carved into such that the frame is flat with the floor in the middle; unfortunately, this impacts the shocks mounting in the front trunk region. There were also a few feet of frame protruding past the back bumper, which fabricator Joshua Dodge promptly removed by sawing it off. The Model 3’s bulkhead is also a touch bumpy, but it will be soldered flush after the gearbox tunnel is carved out to accommodate the diesel generator.
That’s not to say Tesla hasn’t delivered on the excitement, puns, and refundable online orders. It features a number of peculiarities that would almost certainly be frowned upon if they reached it into Tesla’s production car.
“There’s something I need to find out to hold the screws in place so I don’t have to pause in a few hours and retighten bolts all over the body,” Berge explains. In her car, she maintains rechargeable batteries tools and additional screws for much of that kind of repair. “And with all the wood, it does squeak quite a little.”