World’s Weirdest, and Coolest, Vehicle Conversion?


So you think you know someone. You can be married to a woman and share life’s most intimate moments, and then, one random Sunday morning, she can say this:

“You should look up my friend Otmar and his zip-together Volkswagen bus.”

Ummm…. what?

I replied, “Who is this friend you speak of and why have I never heard about said zip-together bus?”

She said he’s a long-time family friend and that she has physically laid eyes on this bus. I promptly asked Google for more information and found what I believe to be the weirdest, and possibly coolest, conversion project I’ve ever heard of: The Stretchla.

Otmar Ebenhoech loves camping, electric cars, and Volkswagen busses. Those three passions have collided with the creation of what he calls the “Stretchla,” a fused 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia and 1986 VW Synchro which he uses for camping. Until recently the vehicle was powered by a custom biodiesel engine.

According to Ebenhoech,

It was last spring when the Stretchla project started to take shape. It all started when the young TDI engine in the Stretch threw a connecting rod through the block while returning home from California on I5, ironically it happened not long after I passed a car carrier full of new Teslas heading north for delivery. The thought of buying another internal combustion engine and spending a greasy week installing it was depressing to me. I parked the Stretch in the yard. Later I was camping in my electric 914 when my friend Jon suggested converting the Stretch to electric power.

So Ebenhoech did what anybody would do and purchased a 2013 Tesla Model S with a salvage title that he could use as a platform by which to power the VW bus. The plan was taking shape and Ebenhoech felt confident that he could buy the needed Tesla parts finish the project and comfortably take his homemade camper to his favorite camping spot using Tesla’s Supercharger charging network. (He’d theoretically be allowed to use it, since he technically owns a Model S.)

Then trouble set in. Ebenhoech received an e-mail from the Tesla parts department that said,

Due to the salvage status of your Model S , I have been instructed to cease providing you with parts.  Tesla is very concerned about vehicles with salvaged titles being improperly repaired.  Going forward, all salvaged vehicles must be inspected by us or our approved body shop, Precision Auto Body. If declared a candidate for proper repair, reconstruction must be completed by a Tesla-Certified Body Shop.

And thus the dream of a Tesla-powered Volkswagen stretch electric camping bus died. Currently, the Stretchla sits on Ebenhoech’s property in Oregon waiting for the day when Tesla changes its mind and makes parts available again.

Should Otmar Ebenhoech be allowed to buy the parts he needs to finish his “Stretchla” project?


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1 Comment

  1. He could obtain the parts he needs from other wrecked Tesla’s one by one. A lot of trouble to go to but maybe the only route possible.

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