Electric cars can be fun. There, I said so. As much as some enthusiasts like to joke about all-electric vehicles being as racy as the Toyota Prius, there’s just something about that instant mismatched torque and that’s just*Chef’s Kiss. *But not having the sound of your visceral engine and gearbox can make a battery-powered car less fun to drive after a few months, at least for some drivers. That’s what happened to Justin, the Chinese car enthusiast who drives a Tesla Model 3.
Justin says that while the Tesla is “fun and fast,” driving quickly became boring. He remembers watching Rich Rebuilds build the world’s first V8-engined swap Tesla, which inspired him to come up with his own swap idea. But unlike Rich, who used the combustion setting, Justin wanted to combine the instant torque of an electric car with the fun of turbocharged gas. This means a hybrid build.
Here’s how the descent is planned. The Tesla Model 3 will keep a single 300-horsepower electric motor in the rear of the vehicle and a factory battery. The second engine and gearbox — which is manual, by the way — are powered to fit the space where the luggage compartment was previously. The gasoline engine will power the front wheels exclusively, which means that the car will have an all-wheel drive design with an estimated 70-30 separate forces.
Despite the comment section in his TikTok video calling on the builder to use Honda’s K-series engine, Justin chose to go with something different, citing the ease of parts and cost-effectiveness for performance gains. Under the trunk sits a Volkswagen EA888 2.0-liter four-cylinder that was picked up from a Volkswagen Golf.
With plenty of aftermarket support thanks to the Golf R and GTI, building the engine into a 750-horsepower beast seemed totally achievable. Justin and his team built the engine with forged interior parts and hit up a Garrett G30-770 turbocharger to get the job done. To make sure this goal is met with over 700 horsepower, a little bit of nitrous is used to provide extra power when the turbo is running out of breath.
Justin and his team also set up a custom subframe and suspension system to accommodate the new engine at the front of the car. They also moved all the factory Tesla components that were in the trunk of the car. It took about three months for the initial engine setup and manufacturing to be completed, but by the end of all that hard work, Justin could hear the sound of a Volkswagen engine coming to life as it was fitted inside the trunk.
Tesla’s high-voltage battery could have been put back in its original location, which means that almost everything behind the VW driveline is untouched. One important question is how well the combustion engine will perform with Tesla’s stock software and its electric motor unit. Regardless, Justin’s series on the car will soon reveal some of its secrets.
Justin’s project is still in the works, but it has already undergone a great deal of work and looks like it will be a success. He says he expects the car to be drivable by mid-June.
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