Rich Benoit, founder of the Rich Rebuilds YouTube channel is back with a new project that’s sure to annoy even more internet people. If you recall, the last big project from Rich Rebuilds was an LS-swapped Tesla Model S finished just in time for SEMA 2021, with plans to Tesla-swap a C4 Corvette at the present. Yet that doesn’t seem like enough work to do, as Rich and company have acquired themselves a wrecked Tesla Model 3 and are planning a Cummins diesel swap.
A Cummins 4BT four-cylinder turbodiesel to be exact. Now, if you read four-cylinder and think this project is going to be easy, then you’re crazy. The 3.9L Cummins 4BT actually has a larger footprint than the ultra-compact cam in a block design of the LS3 they jammed into the front of the ICE-T Model S. Compounding things, the Model 3’s front frame rails are much closer together, as is the space between the front seats–which will become a functional home for the transmission.
The Cummins 4BT will kick out 105hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, the engines were commonly found in smaller commercial trucks like bread delivery vans–which appears to be where Rich Rebuilds will source theirs from. Dimensionally the 4BT is 30.6 inches long, 24.6 inches wide, and 37.7 inches high. Based on early measurements there are 28 inches of width to play with, but the engine’s height combined with the Tesla’s sloping nose means the engine will certainly be partially exposed.
The Model 3 was sourced from New Hampshire and appears to have suffered a significant front-end impact with either a tree or a pole or something equally cylindrical. Fortunately, the crush zone of the Model 3’s front tub dissipated most of the energy and left the unibody structurally intact. Aside from airbag dust and broken glass, the interior looks no worse for wear than your average Marketplace find.
We’re quite curious to see how this Rich Rebuilds Tesla Model 3 Cummins diesel swap ends up unfolding. The car was obviously a salvage write-off at the time of acquisition, but it will be interesting to see if others will attempt to ICE swap wrecked or unrepairable EVs.