In 2013, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk caused quite a stir when he revealed that he had purchased the Lotus Esprit submarine from 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
Fast forward towards the end of 2019, and the entrepreneur revealed that Tesla’s controversial Cybertruck had been partially inspired by the design of the James Bond Esprit.
Following up on this, CNBC did a little bit of digging and found out some interesting information about the British movie prop and its life before Musk.
A Lotus Unlike Any Other: Elon Musk Buys Bond Movie Lotus Esprit Sub with the Intent to Make it Functional!
In 1989, a couple from Long Island, New York attended a blind auction where they paid roughly $100 for an unclaimed storage unit. Neither they nor the seller had any idea of what was in it. You can probably see where this is going: inside the storage unit was the very 1976 Lotus Esprit used in The Spy Who Loved Me. Yes, the couple had just paid $100 for a piece of Hollywood history.
A total of eight Esprits were used during filming and the example purchased by the couple was the only one filmed during underwater scenes. According to co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, Doug Redenius, who authenticated the car, the couple had never seen a Bond film and “didn’t know how valuable their discovery was.”
Intent on fixing up the car, the couple loaded it onto a truck and headed towards home when nearby truckers contacted them over CB radio about the car they were hauling and how special it was.
Armed with this knowledge, the couple cosmetically restored it and displayed it at numerous exhibits before it was auctioned off in 2013. It was later sold to a secret buyer for $997,000 – and that secret buyer turned out to be Elon Musk.
Upon buying the car, Musk said he would fit it with a Tesla powertrain and try to make it transform from a street car to a mini submarine, like it did in the movie. So far, there’s no news on the progress he has made with this plan.