Don’t get me wrong, I’ve rebuilt more than the average number of wrecked exotics — the most recent being the Dodge Viper that took a dip in my neighborhood ditch and my Lotus Evora that got hit during a cross-country road trip. But, when my wrecked original Tesla Roadster was dropped off after sitting in a junkyard in upstate New York through the winter, I was in for a little less than a treat. Sourcing parts for a rare car can be time-consuming and expensive, and if you’re into DIY repairs and rebuilds, the electronic units of the Tesla Roadster can be shocking — literally. Even compared to the wrecked hybrid supercar, the BMW i8, the original Tesla Roadster is on my list of the worst supercars to attempt a rebuild of.
Low production cars mean it’s hard to find parts
Buying wrecked exotics and supercars can mean getting the car of your dreams for a reasonable price, but it can also mean digging yourself into a hole of financial ruin — like this YouTuber unfortunately discovered while attempting to rebuild the cheapest twin-turbo Audi R8. When it comes to rebuilding any wrecked vehicle, you never know what to expect, and when it comes to an electric vehicle with a lot of proprietary equipment like the Tesla Roadster, things can go from bad to worse for your bank account — especially if you are having a professional shop do all of the repairs. With not a lot of people owning these cars, it can be even more difficult to find information on them, so information can be as scarce as parts in some instances. Really, it’s not a bad time all around.
The original Tesla Roadster doesn’t share a ton of parts with more common cars
While the original Tesla Roadster was based on the somewhat more common Lotus Elise, it doesn’t share all that many parts with it. The parts that it does share with the Elise, however, are also — as you could imagine — are pretty hard to come by, as the sporty track-focused cars are also relatively rare and not very popular in the US — through the Lotus Emira has the potential to make the brand more popular here. Tesla didn’t design its newer cars with the original Tesla Roadster in mind, so you can’t just swap out mechanical or electrical components of a new Tesla model, either. Some supercars, like the Dodge Viper, share plenty of parts with more common vehicles, making it easier to rebuild them, but sadly, that isn’t the case for these collector items.
Original Tesla Roadster owners love to hoard parts
Part of what makes it so difficult to find parts for sale is, well, only do in part to the fact that there aren’t a ton of spare parts out there. Parts are so rare the original Tesla Roadster owners tend to hoard all of the parts that they can find. It isn’t really all that selfish, either, as the chances of needing to replace parts as they break and degrade are high, and finding parts when you need them is almost impossible. So, in a very roundabout way, Tesla Roadster owners hoard parts they don’t need, on the chance that they may eventually need them, instead of sharing parts with owners who currently need them. At the end of the day, the lack of parts problem means it’s hard to rebuild these cars because finding parts is so difficult that it’s borderline impossible.
Regardless of the hurdles, rebuilding an original Tesla Roadster isn’t impossible, and with the right connections, a lot of time, and some ingenuity, it can mean reviving a piece of automotive history back to its rightful state and on the road — but, that isn’t the happy ending we are getting from our Roadster, which, I will skip ahead to the end of we decided it was best to part out what was left of the car in the end.