Tesla Reincarnated

Fun Fact: Tesla Motors began the new year 2020 as the most valuable car company — ever — in the United States. Its market capitalization of $80+ billion is more than Ford Motor Company’s 1999 peak; almost as much as Ford and GM combined. Tesla’s stock price has been on a wild up-and-down ride along with loose-cannon founder and CEO Elon Musk’s much-publicized missteps. The latest stock surge follows vehicle deliveries in the fourth quarter 2019 greater than even Musk had predicted

There are enough Teslas on the road now that some are inevitably finding their way into collision-repair shops and scrapyards. Tesla batteries, motors and even drive trains are being rebirthed in vintage Volkswagens, Porsches, Mustangs and other favorites of car buffs. Their fathers and grandfathers increased horsepower of internal-combustion engines and tuned exhaust for just the right sound; today auto enthusiasts are building more powerful, but silent custom cars.

For entrepreneurs, mostly in California, electric vehicle (EV) conversions are a growing business. One shop offers training classes teaching do-it-yourselfers to do conversions. A rusted ’49 Mercury, dubbed the “Derelict,” fitted with electric motor, Tesla batteries, power steering, air conditioning and Bluetooth, has won awards at car shows.

When an unlikely-looking car blows by you — silently — it could be powered by Tesla.