Elon Musk was born in South Africa but his name is now known the world over. He is the driving force that has brought companies like Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX that are transforming not just their industries or Silicon Valley but the entire shape of the world. One of the world's most vocal futurists, Musk clearly believes that technology offers the solution to most of the way that humanity is slowly but surely destroying the Earth.
But in his work to change the future of humanity, Elon Musk is famously one to put his money where his mouth is; and with a net worth estimated at over $22 billion, he's got a lot of money to back up his every and any idea. Those zany concepts include revolutionizing renewable energy through solar power and individual home energy storage solutions, disrupting the automotive industry by producing some of the world's best electric vehicles, and space travel, including populating Mars.
Musk is officially the co-founder of Tesla but he is the automotive brand's face and creative impulse. When the first Tesla Roadster hit the streets in 2008, much of the automotive industry was pleasantly surprised that an EV could perform so well—and yet, no one could have foreseen the company's surging future. No one other than Elon Musk, anyway.
Now the purveyor of Models S, 3, X, Y, and forthcoming projects like both a semi and pickup truck, Tesla doesn't just offer some of the most efficient yet powerful cars on the market, they do it with style. But as with any product, once consumers get their hands on Teslas, a fair amount of them end up getting the urge to customize their cars. Keep scrolling for 20 modded Teslas that Elon Musk definitely would not approve of.
20 Tony Stark's Tesla
Elon Musk actually made an Easter egg cameo in Iron Man 2 and it turns out that Robert Downey Jr thought Musk was the closest thing to a real-life Tony Stark as there is in this world. And in fact, the comparison isn't too far off (other than Stark's more fictional elements); both are unpredictable inventors who have, without a doubt, changed the worlds in which they live because of their eye for futuristic technology. Still, this incredibly basic Iron Man paint job doesn't exactly serve to highlight this Model X's lines. Sometimes, less is more but in this case, more actual Iron Man details would have been better.
No, this Model S isn't a Pikachu reference; it's actually a more obscure (at least, here in the United States) cartoon character that is popular in Japan, Shimajiro. The striped yellow tiger is a cute way to transform an electric car into something all the kids will want to play with. But this Shimajiro wasn't built to inspire children to learn their computer programming and study hard in science class so they can become the next Elon Musk, it was created as a way of promoting the Shimajiro brand. Overall, it's a great build, though the wheels would have been cooler if they were paws rather than yellow moon hubcaps.
One feature that Fisker added to their Karma that many people would love to see on Tesla cars was a solar power-collecting panel in the roof. It makes sense for any electric or hybrid vehicle to constantly collect free power from the sun whenever it's parked outside. But apparently, Elon Musk—the man behind SolarCity—doesn't think the cost-benefit ratio is strong enough to include this feature in his cars. He's more about enormous panorama sunroofs, perhaps. But either way, it seems unlikely he'd approve of this Tesla's iridescent paint job and its over-the-top wheels.
There are many aspects of Tesla's automotive design and engineering that allow every one of their models to instantly be among the world's fastest cars. First off is the instantaneous torque delivery of an electric motor, which is even better than the supercharged or turbocharged engines in the world's most expensive supercars. Add in all-wheel drive on highly optioned Teslas and all that power gets routed to the ground with less tire spin. Another beneficial aspect is Tesla's low center of gravity thanks to the skateboard-style battery layout. But this owner went a little overboard when they wrapped their whole car in a pattern that looks like the underside of an actual skateboard.
16 At It Again
Will.i.am already transformed his Tesla Model S into a strange stormtrooper custom creation—and it looks like he's unwilling to sit by and let Elon Musk dictate how his Roadster is going to look. This time, the customization was performed by Darren McKeage, who developed the design from sketches that Will.i.am gave him. The body will go on an original Tesla Roadster, not the new version expected out for the 2020 model year, though it's another futuristic build that clearly expands on its designer's insistence that everything stand out from the crowd—whether for good reasons or bad. In this case, the result looks a lot like the forthcoming model. Why not wait?
15 Janis Wants A Tesla
The Tesla Roadster was produced in limited quantities (around 2,450 worldwide) and most of them probably went to wealth tech-hippies in the Berkeley, California, hills who loved the idea of the world's first fun electric car. Coming from the likes of Silicon Valley royalty like Elon Musk didn't hurt the Roadster's street cred, either. Still, it takes a special kind of mind to paint a Tesla Roadster in this kind of psychedelic pattern, which is most reminiscent of Janis Joplin's Porsche 356 that she hand-painted herself back in the 1960s. Thankfully, Elon Musk may have been a tech rock star but he made it past the age of 27.
14 Sorry Sergey
This might just be the most peculiar Tesla that has ever managed to silently cruise the streets of Palo Alto—and that's saying something. The theory behind this wild, pink Batman Tesla and its mono-bar wheels is that a poor guy had a mean prank pulled on him by his employees. Luckily, the car's owner is actually Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google (the employees of which pulled this prank), the 13th-richest person on the planet Earth, and a major investor in Tesla. Given Elon Musk's own sense of humor, there's a good chance he wouldn't even allow Brin to get his car returned to stock by Tesla technicians.
13 Bieber's Tesla
Justin Bieber has owned some of the world's best cars. He's got a fleet of Ferraris, owned a Fisker Karma, and a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG (not to mention the highlight of his collection, the Smart Fortwo). He's notorious for getting pulled over for hitting triple digits in residential Calabasas—and for getting his cars wrapped in all kinds of different metallic shades. This Tesla Model S would fit into his collection perfectly, having been wrapped in bright gold foil and shod in black wheels. Whether Elon and Justin ever hang out in the hills of LA is a real question—whether Elon would like his car to look like a space ship's insulation is not.
12 So Vented
The current automotive market has changed in many ways when compared even to the products coming out a decade ago. Where once Toyota and Honda were all about simple commuter cars with epic reliability and a complete lack of style, now the Corolla and Civic come with ridiculous air intakes, spoilers, and body kits (and not quite the dependability). Air intakes are important for sports cars, helping to keep components cool and feed forced-induction setups for serious performance. But a Tesla doesn't need forced induction and its engine doesn't get too hot—the fronts of Teslas basically don't have any air inlets. This modded one, though, has faux slits on the sides that aren't even as ridiculous as its brake calipers.
11 Stanced For Efficiency
Race cars sit low to the ground to improve aerodynamic efficiency and increase downforce at speed. Even Tesla's X and Y SUV models don't sit particularly high (compared to most pickups, for example) and that's because they're little changed from the sedans with which they shared many of their parts. But the sedans don't sit particularly low, either, because being too low means an increased risk of rupturing the skateboard battery's hide. This Tesla owner couldn't resist getting his car kitted up and stanced—hopefully, it doesn't void the car's warranty when it bottoms out over a speed bump and pops a hole in the lithium-ion battery.
10 Model W
Elon Musk has brought Tesla a long way since the original Roadster starting cruising around silently in 2008. The brand now has the S for a flagship sedan, the X as a full-size SUV, the 3 for the economical segment, and now the Y, a mid-sized crossover of sorts. But nowhere in Musk's hyper-ambitious planning—which, for the record, includes actual space ships and interstellar travel—has there ever been a Model W (for wagon). But station wagons are big sellers abroad thanks to their utility, so a firm in the UK decided to transform a Model S into wagon form. The result looks professional but was it ever really necessary?
9 Bentley Interior
Every luxury car manufacturer offers an almost endless list of options and extras to pack into their cars—of course, those additional features pad the price tag, as well. Tesla has their Model S and X for higher-end clientele, complete with a long list of option boxes to check so buyers can configure their perfect electric supercar. From all-wheel drive to an air filtration system that can stop biohazards from entering the cabin, it would seem Tesla has everything covered. But one person decided the interior of their Model X just wasn't deluxe enough, so they swapped in a complete setup from a Bentley to up their comfort to the next level.
8 Not As Bad As His Bug
Will.i.am is famous for his car modification projects, many of which have taken place in the workshop of the dubiously famous West Coast Customs. He's transformed a VW Beetle into an unrecognizable art deco coupe, a DeLorean into an uglier DeLorean, and now, his Tesla Model S looks like a skinny storm trooper's helmet from Star Wars. The angular sides resemble a skull's cheek and jawbones, while the flat black wheels just add to the futuristic vibe. Will cars actually look like this in the future? Elon Musk might be the greatest living futurist and it seems unlikely the smooth designs he approves will ever get this radical.
7 Purple Chalkboard
Matte wraps on cars have an unfortunate effect on many people: they send chills up spines because their texture so closely resembles a chalkboard. And not many adults can look at a chalkboard these days without remembering the days back in elementary school, slapping together erasers and hoping the teacher wouldn't get the students' attention by dragging long acrylics down the length of the chalkboard. This Model S also sports some upgraded rims—the combo makes it seem completely strange that there aren't a pair of enormous exhaust pipes hanging off the back, too. But of course, Teslas don't create exhaust fumes, so that mod goes by the wayside for owners.
6 Top Down Silent Cruising
Some people love convertibles and some people hate them. Hard-top convertibles have tried to bridge the gap between flapping cloth and the awkward design aesthetics that often come about because of the differences in profile of a car with and without a roof. Four-door convertibles are a definite rarity, though, and it's a safe bet this custom convertible Model S is one of a kind. Every Tesla is all about efficiency, though, and convertibles simply don't offer the same aerodynamic smoothness that hardtops bring to the table. Still, someone just had to chop the top off their Tesla so they can enjoy silent cruising on a summer's day.
5 Wider Is Better
Compared to the original Tesla Roadster, which was styled to resemble a Lotus (and it actually shares around 6% of its parts with the Lotus Elise), the current crop of Tesla cars—including the forthcoming Roadster—are much sleeker and smoother. They're still premier performance automobiles, though, and higher-trim versions of the S, X, and 3 can all crack a 3.5-second sprint to 60 miles per hour thanks to the instantaneously available torque of their electric motors. Some owners need to show their potential power, rather than enjoying the neck-snapping rush, and so this Model X has received a widebody kit that includes fender flares and both side and front venting.
4 Aerospace Technology
One of the most expensive details about owning a private plane that most people who don't own private planes don't realize is how extensive the mandated maintenance requirements can get. Essentially, to remain flightworthy, every plane has to be taken down to nuts and bolts every year and rebuilt. After all, if a car's engine fails, it slows down; if a plane's engine fails, it falls from the sky. Tesla may not have the world's best reliability stats at the moment but owners of private planes don't have to worry about maintenance costs—even if they bolt on body kits that look likely to fall off at any moment.
3 Pin Striping
One of the more subtle car modifications that can actually have some of the best performance results is a rear diffuser. Most tuners and modders love their enormous rear wings but a diffuser mounted below the rear bumper can actually create more downforce with less drag than a spoiler can. This Tesla has a petite spoiler on its hatchback and its diffuser would be barely noticeable if they hadn't also pinstriped every edge of the body kit they clearly bought on the internet. If the owner asked Elon Musk how he felt about these design details, the silence would be quiet enough to hear a pin drop.
2 Don't Go Too Far Off-Road
One of the main reasons that Tesla sits at the top of the electric vehicle market is because their cars offer some of the best range stats on a single charge. The Model X, in 100D trim, can achieve an EPA rated 289 miles of battery-only travel. Compare that to Jaguar's I-Pace and its 234-mile range and it's clear who's winning in a long-distance race. But still, neither electric SUV can make it from Los Angeles to San Francisco without stopping for a significant charging break—and a lifted Model X on all-terrain tires only has more resistance to overcome, meaning it shouldn't go too far down that dirt track before turning back.
1 Shooting Brake
In Europe, cars that are longer, lower, and sleeker than vans or station wagons but still not hatchbacks, sedans, or coupes are known as shooting brakes. Much like the Tesla Model S that was converted into a station wagon, this Model S has received a very professional-level build that has transformed it into a shooting brake. The details are actually more in line with Tesla's design aesthetic but there's still every reason to doubt that Elon Musk would approve of this build. After all, the Model S is already a hatchback sedan of sorts, with plenty of room in the rear seats thanks to the lack of a motor in front of the passenger compartment.
Sources: Kodomo Benesse, Wikipedia, and Car and Driver.