The custom shop didn’t mess with Tesla’s AC induction motor, but it did add its own locking differential and upgraded the drivetrain with an 11.39:1 final gear ratio. This means the rear tires can spin a bit more freely, so smoking the tires is easier. The change doesn’t add any power or boost acceleration (and Saleen hasn’t given an official zero-to-60 time), but it’s easier to drive the car slightly more irresponsibly. Especially since the Saleen car, like the most powerful version of the Model S, delivers 416 horsepower (thus the name).
“Saleen has become synonymous with the passion for American performance,” the shop says. The Tesla is the most innovative and impressive car to come out of the United States in a long time, so it’s only fitting that it got the custom treatment. And now that Saleen has toyed with an EV, others may follow. “I think it’s cool, I wouldn’t mind doing an electric hot rod,” says Bodie Stroud, a veteran customizer who’s worked with the likes of Johnny Depp and Tim Allen. “We’ve been approached, but no one’s been able to pull the trigger.” Why not? Most of his customers are older, and they’re looking for a car that will evoke the past, which means an internal combustion engine, noise, fumes, and all. Besides that, “Most people depend on a car to go more than 100 miles when they come to me,” Stroud says. Although the most expensive Model S can cover 265 miles on charge, current EV technology doesn’t line up with the freedom and nostalgia provided by a traditional hot rod.
The decision for owners who want something special to drive ends up being emotional. In Stroud’s experience, the appeal of a high-performance custom car comes from qualities that just can’t be replicated with electricity. “When you’ve got this thing running bitchin’,” he says, “that’s all part of the experience. The noise, the exhaust.”
Certainly, the 1951 Mercs and 1965 Mustangs that Stroud builds are for a different crowd than customers looking at the FourSixteen, but hot rods are meant to be slightly uncivilized, different from what you find on the dealer lot. Electric cars are, in this sense, so sensible that even with instant torque, it can be hard to make them thrilling. Now, at least, we know the right folks are trying.
source: wired.com By Alexander George