Johnny Cash’s Rolls-Royce, a deep TESLA resto-mod

Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce with TESLA Systems - on country road

1 Min Video by Digital Trends


6 Min Video by Digital Trends


22 Min Video by Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield (Transport Evolved)

At 130k miles, it ran, rolled, and stopped. Two independent Rolls-Royce mechanics diagnosed the car with problems like three bad cylinders, frozen/dragging brakes, and other issues requiring a significant overhaul. On these cars that cost is significant and resources willing to do it are few. That led to exploring other options for a resto-mod. SHIFT EV was engaged to perform a deep Model S swap, not just the drive system. If that wasn't challenging enough, an obvious priority was to respect Johnny's car by preserving it's exterior and interior.

If interested in original parts from this car (engine, transmission, wheels, hubs, brakes, fuel & exhaust systems... please contact us to check availability.

A new Tesla Model S was purchased specifically for this project. Test drives of the converted Rolls-Royce began in the Fall of 2019. The powerful and shiftless drive enhances the already ultra-smooth Rolls-Royce ride. It has a respectable range of over 200 miles, but this accomplishment is on a whole new level. The car is also equipped with Tesla luxuries like ABS, TPMS, traction control, stability control, and all-electric power steering, brakes, heat, air conditioning, and more. It is arguably the most high-tech 1970 Rolls-Royce on the road, Johnny’s car is now quicker, more reliable, and stops faster. We think he would approve of the updates, assembled "one piece at a time".

Until it was finished, it was one of the best-kept secrets in this age of social media. The project was only known to staff, a few locals and some of Johnny's family.

Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce with TESLA - rear viewTaken from ground level, the Tesla Large Drive Unit (LDU) is visible. This assembly replaced the stock Independent Rear Suspension, differential housing, and cross member.
This is a bottom view of the Rolls-Royce rear suspension in 3D CAD. It shows the Tesla components mounted. The Tesla wheel bearings were important to use. They send individual wheel speeds to the Tesla computer to provide ABS braking, traction control, and stability control. The Tesla wheel bearings bolt onto the yellow adapters, which bolt onto the stock Rolls Royce suspension. The Rolls-Royce is about 10 inches narrower than the Tesla Model S, so we used custom narrowed half-shaft axles. The green parts are Tesla's electric parking brakes.

Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce with Tesla battery pack - view from underneathThe complete Tesla Model S battery pack (grey) fits surprisingly well in the bottom-center of the car. All Model S and Model X battery packs have a pillow shaped lump on top. We purchased a Tesla with the 75kWh battery pack, knowing the lump was not populated with batteries, making it an easy modification to remove for clearance. Also visible, is the Tesla electric power steering rack.

Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce with Tesla systems - trunk with covers in placeWith protective covers over the screens and charger, this trunk is ready for suitcases and travel bags. The bag shown contains a portable Tesla charge cord (EVSE).
Johnny Cash Rolls-Royce with Tesla systems - trunk with protective covers offThe protective covers are easily removed to display the Tesla charger (left), display for data and messages (middle), and the Center Instrument Display or CID (right). The CID has all of its original functionality, allowing the user to adjust charge rates and other settings.
In time we will publish more, drawing from the thousands of build pictures, some video, and the endless challenges that had to be overcome. This was a big project that could not have been completed without help from our dedicated staff and network of resources. Here are just a few of the people that contributed.