Guy Buys Flood-Damaged Tesla, Fixes it For $6,500, is Now a YouTube Sensation

Tesla is by no means a brand you would associate with cheap, salvage cars, yet that hasn’t stopped one intrepid enthusiast from buying not one, but two damaged Teslas and creating a single running, full-functioning example. One of the cars was a flood-damaged Model S and another was an accident-damaged Model S.
Rich Rebuilds 6 photos
Photo: Rich Rebuilds/YouTube
Rich RebuildsRich RebuildsRich RebuildsRich RebuildsRich Rebuilds
His name is Rich Benoit and he started a YouTube channel, called Rich Rebuilds, along with the project to document it. His videos will put most DIY home mechanics to shame because he really goes in-depth with the repairs he does on his project cars. He even cracked open the battery pack of the flood-damaged Model S and actually succeeded in fixing it, a situation when pretty much all other mechanics would have called it quits.

In the end, the project car he dubbed Dolores ended up costing him about $6,500 all in after he sold what was left of the second Model S he bought, as well as all the leftover parts. Compare this to the $30,000 to $40,000 an example in good condition can fetch on the used cars market and you can see just what an achievement this is.

Rich Rebuilds
Photo: RichRebuilds/YouTube
Many find the prospect of doing a home repair on a Tesla daunting because the manufacturer severely disagrees with the practice. Tesla really doesn’t want anybody that isn’t officially affiliated to work on their cars, not even the people who rightfully and legally own said cars. Rich had to go over several hurdles in rebuilding Dolores, hurdles which would not have been present if he had been repairing any other car from any other brand.

But even so, he succeeded and he eventually quit his full-time job to dedicate all of his time to the YouTube channel. Right now he’s close to 600,000 subscribers and he’s gained a lot of notoriety after being featured on national news in the States. His latest project is a crazy all-electric rat rod which he created by... welding an electric motorcycle to a car. It may sound crazy, but if you check out his videos, you’ll understand what we’re on about.

Rich Rebuilds
Photo: RichRebuilds/YouTube
His rat rod project at least works, because when he tried to put EV mechanicals into a Disney prop car, that deal really went sour very quickly and in quite an explosive manner. Another series of videos was dedicated to his purchase of a used Model X, which he bought from Tesla. That deal also turned out to be very unpleasant for him, as he not only waited far longer than is acceptable, but he also uncovered the strange inner workings of how Tesla sells its approved used cars.

Rich gained a lot of fans (as well as credibility) very quickly and sometime after quitting his day job do more electric vehicle repair videos, he also opened a Tesla (and EV) repair shop earlier this year - it’s called Electrified Garage. This, again, got him featured on national TV and boosted his notoriety on the scene - not that he needed it at this point, because his channel was already very well known, not only among EV aficionados, but also people curious about electric vehicles and those unsure whether or not it was worth purchasing one.

Rich Rebuilds
Photo: RichRebuilds/YouTube
We don’t have any data on this, but it’s quite likely that many of the people who follow Rich’s exploits would like an electric car of their own, but their budget can’t be stretched to purchase a new example or even a good used example. These people have probably seen ads for damaged Teslas online and have wondered what it must take get them to run again (safely) - it’s also these people, who reached out to Rich personally, that determined him to open an EV shop.

This is now bigger than Rich, though. Before he started uploading his videos, there wasn’t anybody with any kind of notoriety doing self-repairs on Teslas, and now more people have gained the confidence to follow in his footsteps. Tesla is by no means keen on this since it wants its cars to be serviced by officially affiliated garages, but this will definitely change as more people learn the inner workings of their vehicles and how to sort out problems without relying on Tesla’s (sometimes unreliable) official servicing.

We’re really expecting to see more YouTube channels/Tesla repair shops to pop up in the near future, now that a precedent has been set. If Rich was able to do it, with really minimal financial resources, but a lot of gusto and pluckiness, then this should open the door for others to do the same and, maybe, get Tesla to become less strict with where and how people service its cars.

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