Well, today I’m departing from my usual doom and gloom, Sturm and Drang writing about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket to forward on the story of a guy who figured out how to rebuild a Tesla on his own — and then created a successful YouTube channel demonstrating his work.
This article showed up in my hometown newspaper, and these are the kind of things that keep us going. Somebody with extraordinary initiative, a little bit of luck, and demonstrating the (still, I believe) American quality of ingenuity. The guy in question is 36-year old Rich Benoit, who “works in IT” in Boston. As reported by the Globe:
The Tesla that started it all, a Model S that Benoit refers to as Delores, was purchased from a salvage yard after it had been caught in a flood in New Jersey. Benoit had a friend who owned a Model S, and the moment he pulled it into Benoit’s driveway to take him for a ride, Benoit was obsessed. The way it was whisper quiet. The impossible acceleration from zero to I-feel-like-I’m-on-a-roller-coaster-and-about-to-throw-up in an instant. The way he could feel all of the work that went into creating the vehicle, a history of progress that combined to create this feeling of the future.
Benoit stripped the car, tore out all of the ruined electronics, and pried out the seats, which had rusted in place, thanks to the saltwater. Then he contacted Tesla to order the parts he needed for the rebuild, and it was here that Benoit hit another obstacle, one that would define the arc of his story: Tesla does not want anyone working on its cars besides Tesla, and refused to sell Benoit the parts he wanted.
Benoit found another Model S that had been totaled in a collision but whose electronics and batteries were still good, bought it for a little more than he’d paid for Delores, and began the long process of turning two broken vehicles into one good one, figuring everything out as he went along and posting videos on a YouTube channel he’d created, Rich Rebuilds, to log his progress. The videos would sometimes get a few hundred views.
After more than a year of tinkering and of challenge after challenge, Benoit had proudly restored Delores nearly back to showroom quality, and in video #61, she passed state inspection.
Six days later, he posted video #62, in which he told the long story that answered the question everyone wanted to know: How much did this thing end up costing? The answer was $6,500 (after selling off a bunch of duplicate parts, including the entire shell of the second car).
“I gave the video the title ‘World’s Cheapest Tesla,’ and in the snap of a finger it had a million views,” he says.
Now that, my friends, is a story that we should all be able to get behind. It’s the kind of thing I have no talent for whatsoever, and for that reason alone, I totally respect what this guy is doing.