The Tesla Model S is one of the best buzzworthy cars on the market. Its aciculate looks and baking achievement accept accurate that electric cartage can be cool.
With Tesla, that breach comes at a cost. With prices alignment amid $75,000 and $135,000 afore options, the Model S is out of ability for many.
So one Massachusetts man absitively to booty affairs into his own easily — literally. He goes by Rich, and on his YouTube channel, “Rich Rebuilds,” you can see his work: accumulation deliver Teslas to accomplish new, active cars.
His efforts accept admiring a accumulation afterward with over 310,000 followers on YouTube and assorted videos cutting up added than 1 actor views. His efforts accept additionally bent the absorption of some Tesla advisers in Palo Alto, Calif.
We batten to Rich to apprentice what it takes to amalgamate deliver electric cars to actualize street-legal, roadworthy runners.
Telsa beneath to animadversion for this story.
Boston.com: Accept you consistently been into cars? What did you do afore authoritative YouTube videos?
Rich Rebuilds: I assignment in the Financial District in Boston, and I’ve consistently been into cars. For a continued time, I never knew how to accompany that passion. So I would boggle with the cars that I had, like my Corvette.
I accomplish a appropriate wage, but authoritative the jump from full-time IT to full-time auto artisan was a lot, so I capital to analyze alive with cars as a amusement at first. Then, a few years ago, a acquaintance of abundance got a job at Tesla. He brought by a Model S, and I instantly fell in love.
How did you get into alive on Teslas? Can you booty us through the action of that aboriginal deliver build?
When my acquaintance brought by the Model S, it was awesome. It arrested all the appropriate boxes for me. Then he told me the price.
Once he told me it was $100,000, I said to myself, I’ve gotta be able to get one for cheaper. So I looked for ones that were dinged up, damaged, but still driving. I concluded up Googling a Tesla that was in a acreage and was bargain abundant to t my attention. I after begin out it had been in a flood. But I was arrogant and aloof thought, how adamantine could this be?
I ample it was like a absolutely big cellphone, and I could put it in a bag of rice or use a ton of beard dryers. But I begin out aloof how difficult it was, and that’s area this all affectionate of started.
And what has been your accord with Tesla during all of this?
When I alleged them up the aboriginal time, I told them I took a car afar due to abyssal accident and asked to buy parts. They said they can’t advertise genitalia to me and kept repeating that. I anticipation to myself, what am I activity to do?
What would commonly happen, with any added car, is I’d acquaint them the car and go to the genitalia administration of a dealership and they advertise you a allotment for a vehicle. To be honest, I wasn’t acclimated to not accepting abutment from the automaker.
So what did you do aback Tesla wouldn’t advertise you parts?
I concluded up purchasing addition car for addition $15,000 and harvested all the genitalia from one car into the other. The additional car wasn’t flooded, but it had bang damage.
It took several months to complete the project. I formed on it during nights and weekends. My wife has a car and I accept a Corvette, so the additional car couldn’t sit there. I had to drive to a tow backyard about an hour away. I’d accompany tools, booty genitalia off the car, and drive aback an hour to put the genitalia aback on the added car.
I abstruse to assignment on these cars through about-face engineering — balloon and error. That’s how we congenital it. As I was demography the abounding car apart, I was acquirements about it.
Any issues with alive on the Tesla software?
Not really. There were some issues in the beginning. Some of the apparatus of the two cars wouldn’t allocution to anniversary other. So I actually had to use aggregate from the dry car and the anatomy from the water-damaged car.
Another affair was that I bare a key for the car. After I powered the car up, I looked in GPS, begin the old owner, and accomplished out. We had a continued conversation, and he alleged Tesla. A anniversary later, he alleged aback and said he had a key.
When did you adjudge to about-face your assignment into a YouTube channel? And what has active it been like?
For the actual aboriginal build, I aloof did accidental pictures and acquaint them in a Tesla forum. That one cilia had added than 700,000 views, and that was aloof announcement pictures. Addition appropriate I should put this on YouTube, and I went from there.
Running a YouTube approach is not for the aside of heart. You’re putting yourself out there every time you column a video. A distinct one of my videos could ability a actor viewers. A actual baby allotment are austere haters, and a lot of bodies column comments analytic my abilities.
It’s demanding. It’s a full-time job to break on top of YouTube searches. And on top of that, I still accept my day job.
And what has Tesla’s acknowledgment been to your channel?
[I’m told] a lot of bodies there watch the channel, whether they appetite to accept it or not.
There are alone like bristles bodies out there who can do this Tesla work. Some won’t certificate it for assorted reasons. Go on YouTube and attending up Tesla videos, and actual few are bringing accuracy to the masses. There are abounding Tesla evangelists, and they will alone appearance the acceptable ancillary of the car.
Massachusetts is a “right to repair” state. What does that mean, and what does it beggarly for you and your accord with Tesla?
It agency that the customer has to accept the aforementioned rights to adjustment manuals, tools, and software to analyze and troubleshoot the articles they own. From an automotive standpoint, the customer needs admission to computer equipment, too.
But here’s the catchy part: Tesla doesn’t accept any dealers. They accept showrooms and annual centers. So they technically aren’t dealers. … They accept an online adjustment chiral and will allegation $100 a day to use, and $3,000 for the year. If you accept admission to that manual, it aloof tells you how to booty genitalia off. It doesn’t explain how to diagnose, appropriately active bodies aback to annual centers.
To do being like that, they accept an online portal, area you charge assurance up for an account. And you charge be a Tesla-authorized anatomy boutique to admission that.
What are some of the added big challenges in accomplishing these builds?
Parts availability. Unfortunately, I accept to delay until addition crashes their car to get parts. Which is why I’ve been stockpiling genitalia to fix my own vehicle, in case I charge to alter article on the car I have. This is 2018, and this is the action that I accept to accord with.
On the cast side, what accept been some the better surprises?
Once you’re finished, there’s a big attraction to a Model S. Once you’ve apprenticed one, you’re not activity to appetite to go back. Also, they are decidedly actual accessible to assignment on. No grease or oil. Fewer affective parts.
Do you achievement your approach will affect added bodies to attack to DIY their Tesla?
It’s assured that we’ll see added electrification in boilerplate cars in the future. Area do you see things activity for the aftermarket and modification?
What bodies don’t apprehend is that some bodies abhorrence EVs. They anticipate they can’t be achievement cars. But anticipate about your aboriginal alien ascendancy car or Power Wheel. It was an EV.
What’s one affair you’ve abstruse from this journey?
Don’t be afraid to action big corporations. They are listening. We’ve already fabricated an impact. If you are wronged by a company, don’t sit idly by. Start your own thing, and let it t on.
This account has been agilely edited and condensed.
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