While still a student at Bergen Community College in New Jersey in 2013, Sam Polyak converted his $200 junkyard 1992 Mazda MX-3 to electric drive. That worked so well he took on bigger game: building a 2010 all-wheel-drive Audi S5 with Tesla power.
Out came the tired V8 and in went a motor and inverter from a P85D Model S, producing a car that could reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Also using the Tesla’s full 16-module battery pack yielded 250 miles of range but required sacrificing the back seat. And there were plenty of challenges to get all the systems to play nice in the car—and for the Audi’s many modern conveniences to actually function.
“It’s a whole lot easier to convert a pre-1996 car,” said Polyak, who now runs PolyKup, a shop in West Haverstraw, New York, that converts cars and