Skip to main content

Imagine a Tesla Model S with 50% more torque and twice as much horsepower

Now imagine it burns premium unleaded! This unholy marriage would draw the ire of every Tesla fan on Earth. What would you think of such a conversion?

In a recent interview with Detroit News, former GM executive and all-around car-guy, Bob Lutz, made a small comment that is likely to elicit a big response from Tesla owners. The back story is that just before Fisker Automotive turned itself in to Tucker Automotive a company called VL began to offer conversions of the gorgeous Fisker Karma. “Conversion” meaning rip out the unreliable and now discontinued extended range electric drive (batteries from bankrupt A123) and transplant the powertrain from a Corvette. And not just any Corvette, but rather a ZR1's LS9 supercharged V8.

In the interview there was a misunderstanding. Some took the comment made by Lutz to mean that the company is offering Model S conversions, but at this time the only car that VL offers is the Destino (destiny) that is the Karma body with a heart transplant. However, why not explore the Tesla Model S owners’ thoughts on such a conversion of their pride and joy?

The current Model S Performance has an impressive powertrain already. The vehicle is capable of a 0-60 MPH time of just over 4 seconds. However, there are more logical donor Model S cars with a less expensive and less potent powertrain. Those are more sedate base 60 kWh cars which hit 60 in about 5.5 seconds. With “just” 302 horsepower, an upgrade to the ZR1’s 638 horsepower engine would more than double power. Yes, EV owners like to talk more about torque than power. Well, just off idle the Corvette’s LS9 powertrain creates a twisting moment of about 50% more torque than the Tesla, and at peak, which is just a quick tap of the throttle away, the LS9’s torque is about double that of the lesser Tesla Model S. Oh, and would you like a manual transmission with that? No problem.

The Tesla Model S needs more torque like Newcastle needs more coal in our opinion, but very wealthy car nuts are a strange group. Watch the car auctions on TV to see what we mean. They will pay 6 figures for an old “muscle” car from their youth that would be stomped by a V6 Accord in any situation, or pay 7 figures for an old Italian “supercar” that is the same dimensions a current Mazda Miata, but slower and less reliable. There are also those car nuts that take modern fast cars, pour in well over $50K in upgrades and create insane exotics that are not really much faster than the stock versions of the cars they started with.

We think Lutz’ comment was not really that meaningful, and in any case is out of context. This story is mostly in fun. If you are a Model S owner or fan why not comment below and let us know what you think of an “upgraded” Tesla with an ICE drivetrain? Jill S. made a great comment on one forum we are fortunate to participate in. She said “Why on Earth would I want to sully my perfect Model S with that gas-guzzling garbage?” Let’s make one rule; No f’bombs and let’s try to direct the anger toward a target other than the author. That’s too easy. Have at it!

Corvette ZR1
VL Destino

Photo courtesy of the Chevrolet public site.


mw (not verified)    January 18, 2014 - 2:20PM

I beat a corvette while carrying 2 passengers in my S85 and didn't have to smell his smog. No thanks.

Auto Motive (not verified)    January 21, 2014 - 10:29AM

In reply to by mw (not verified)

Agree. I heard a guy that owns a EV Sonic with 450lbs torque took a vette off the line from red lite to red lite. The vette owner couldn't look the guy in the eye after that. I wonder if this was a true story or not?

Achilz (not verified)    January 18, 2014 - 3:24PM

And how would you duplicate the silent, smooth ride, no fluids, no maintenance and extra storage space in the front trunk? A Model S with an internal combustion engine would be of no use to anyone.

Dennis Wittenborn (not verified)    January 18, 2014 - 9:20PM

Own a Tesal Performace 85. Not a chance I'd swap any part of my S. We blew away a 32 coupe with a blown 650 horse Chevy big block last fall at local drag strip. Followed that up with a win Vs. A Dodge Viper. Hard to top that in any other 4 door family sedan!

Andrew (not verified)    January 18, 2014 - 11:36PM

Why don't we just go even further backwards and attach it to a horse? Bob Lutz' behavior seems desperate and misguided. A model S, by definition, could never be better by having an ICE, and I feel pity for those that would want to do that to such a unique attempt to improve our transportation. Shame on him!

Guy Mansterson (not verified)    January 19, 2014 - 4:25AM

It would bother me, if they didn't have to stop at gas stations, and it cost less... and I cared about off the line speed... and I didn't care about maintenance... etc

Tony (not verified)    January 19, 2014 - 11:32AM

Really. It's just a fantasy for those who can't accept the fact that the S is a world class car AND and electric too!

Jouni Valkonen (not verified)    January 24, 2014 - 1:15PM

When AWD Model S Performance enters to market then I think that there is about 100 % more torque and good deal more power. Especially there is more power if Tesla introduces 120 kWh battery that can output significantly more kilowatts.