Originally published on CleanTechnica
The Tesla pickup truck is set to be revealed to the world in just a few months, but one eager maker just couldn’t help herself and had to go off and make one for herself. Simone Giertz is the self-proclaimed Queen of Shitty Robots and has made a name for herself by building some seriously odd robot creations and documenting the process on her YouTube channel. Why build shitty robots? Let’s get into that first.
Simone likes creating things that don’t exist. It’s a way for her to express her quirky side and also to explore the limits of what’s possible. Most of her creations aren’t earth shattering, but they do have a tendency to get your mind moving and exploring what’s possible. Whether it is a hair-washing robot, a drone that carries babies, or a robot that feeds your popcorn fetish, she’s built some pretty wacky things and made some messes along the way.
Unfortunately, Simone’s story isn’t one of vast successes and innate ability unleashed. “When I first started building things, obviously, I was pretty bad at it,” she told Wired. “You can’t be good at things from the start and I decided just to embrace that and to roll with it and turn it into something funny.” Getting over the need to be perfect was something she latched onto right away. If you get caught up on getting everything perfect, you’re going to be let down a lot, because achieving perfection can be a never-ending pursuit.
On the other hand, if you just start building, having fun, and exploring the creative process, you’ll probably have a lot more fun along the way. Simone latched onto the concept and just ran with it. Over the last 3 years, she has built some hilarious robots that, in reality, she could probably turn into some useful things, but again, that’s not the point. She documents her creative process — bumps, bruises, and all — on her YouTube channel as a way to encourage others to do the same.
If she’s failing on camera, in front of millions of viewers, what does it matter if I fail trying to fix my bike, upgrade my router to the latest home-brewed firmware, build an electric car, or start a company in the comfort of my own home? Failure is inevitable. The only thing we get to choose is what we’re going to do when it happens.
Keying A Tesla
Simone had made a deal with herself early on that she would not drive a gas-powered vehicle, but she wanted a truck. As of 2019, there just aren’t any electric trucks out there for consumers, so she did the logical thing and bought a brand spanking new Tesla Model 3.
You see, Simone likes building things, and people who build things need to move the things around that they’re going to unbuild and rebuild, plus things to build things with in the first place. Got that? One of the better vehicles to do that type of thing with is a truck. As a maker, she figured, what the heck, why not just buy a Tesla Model 3 and start cutting? What could go wrong?
Simone did just that. She invited a team of fellow makers, including Rich Rebuilds, to a new shop leased for the occasion, bought a brand new, cherry red Tesla Model 3, and started making plans. To get over the initial fear of cutting into the brand new, factory fresh Tesla Model 3, Simone keyed the car with the name she had given to her new creation: TRUCKLA. It’s a truck made from a Tesla. Watching her key that into the back deck of a brand new Model 3 is cringeworthy TV if I’ve ever seen it, but that’s her style. Get over the messing up part. Make things messy. Scuff it up a bit so you won’t worry so much about banging it up on accident later.
The team had the shop for 10 days and they quickly started work drafting out plans for the truck. The initial design session quickly led to a plan to pull out the rear seats, cut away the upper frame, and reuse as much of the lower steel frame and body work from the Model 3 as possible. That came with its own limitations, but kept the process contained to something they could achieve with their combined maker/welder/automotive/creative skillsets in right around two weeks.
The first step in getting the car ready was to pull all the stock stuff out of the rear of the car, pull out all the seats, interior, wiring, and the like until all that was left was metal. That took a few days, but was fairly straight forward for their team. After all, if Rich Rebuilds can’t figure out how to tear up an undocumented Tesla in a matter of hours, it’s probably not possible in the first place.
After the car was stripped, they prepped it for surgery. Blankets were laid down, tape was set out, lines were drawn, and tools were laid out. And then they started cutting. There’s something about watching a cutoff tool spending some quality time with a fresh coat of factory paint that is at the same time extremely satisfying and chilling. Off came the structural rails that run the length of the car. Off came the rear glass.
Sparks flew, adhesive was cut, and I’m sure more than a few plastic clips were snapped, but at the end of the process, the rear of the car was chopped up into an unrecognizable mass. As with home remodels, demo is always the fastest part of the process, and when the demo ends, the real work starts. The crack team mapped out the layout of the truck bed and started bending pipe and welding it back in to restore the structural integrity of their creation.
Rebuilding A Dream
Functionally, the truck was to have a rather short bed, so they decided to add a roof rack for larger items that would normally fit into the back of a normal pickup truck. The rack would also tie into the frame of the car to restore some of the lost rigidity of the frame. For the bed of the truck, they found a donor truck that had recently passed away and harvested the bed from that. A Chevy Colorado gave its rear window to the project, which after some muscling, fit in so nicely that it looks stock.
Her pal Marcos Ramirez did much of the rebuilding of the truck off camera while Simone prepared for the next chapter in the story. The plan was to shoot a short commercial for the car that resulted in a fun little mockumentary with some great footage of the truck blasting around a farm.
The project is exciting, not because this is the next big thing for Tesla, but because it shows how Tesla as a vehicle is inspiring others to pursue their dreams — how Tesla is driving real, meaningful change in not just the automotive industry, but in the world at large. Tesla is a bold statement that we can envision the future we want and just get started building it. Be the change.
Simone’s Truckla is a one of a kind and it’s beautiful. Check out her full documentary of the process below that shows all her quirkiness, creativity, and ultimately, her new fully electric truck. If you like it, you can buy a shirt to support more of her zany adventures and show off some cleantech swag while you’re at it.
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