Facts

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Paid $1 Million to Own James Bond’s Lotus Esprit Submarine

From Bond Cars to the Cybertruck

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, is known for his innovative projects and bold ambitions. One fascinating aspect of Musk’s endeavors is his deep fascination with submarines, which has spanned years. From acquiring the iconic Lotus Esprit submarine featured in a James Bond film to his aspirations of transforming it into a functional underwater vehicle, Musk’s journey into the realm of submersibles has captivated the imagination of enthusiasts around the world. In this article, we delve into the intriguing story behind Musk’s passion for submarines and explore the connections between the Lotus Esprit, the Cybertruck, and his ongoing projects.

Key Takeaways

  1. Elon Musk’s interest in submarines was sparked by his acquisition of the modified Lotus Esprit submarine used in the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.
  2. The Lotus Esprit underwent extensive modifications, including the addition of wheel arches, winglets, and front-mounted missile launchers, to transform it into a functional underwater vehicle for the movie.
  3. Despite his ambitious plans, there is limited evidence to suggest that Musk has successfully transformed the Lotus Esprit into a fully operational submarine capable of real underwater navigation.
  4. The design of the Lotus Esprit, particularly its distinctive lines penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, influenced the creation of Tesla’s Cybertruck, showcasing the interplay between cinematic inspiration and automotive design.
  5. Musk’s fascination with submarines exemplifies his relentless pursuit of innovation and his desire to push boundaries, even in unconventional areas such as underwater exploration.

The Bond Car Discovery

The tale begins in 1989, when an adventurous couple from Long Island stumbled upon a hidden treasure that would put any barn-find hunter to shame. They purchased a locked storage unit for a mere $100 and eagerly cracked it open, unveiling a 1976 Lotus Esprit S1 buried beneath a pile of blankets. Little did they know, this Esprit had a remarkable past—it was modified to star in the iconic 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

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From Car to Submarine

Ignoring the “light is right” motto of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, the film’s producers transformed the Lotus Esprit into a fully functional submarine. Through the magic of movie-making, the wheel arches and underbody were welded to enable underwater navigation, and winglets were added to enhance stability. The coupe even gained front-mounted missile launchers, adding to its impressive arsenal. These modifications reportedly cost a staggering $100,000 at the time.

Unassuming Owners Unveil Hollywood History

The couple, unaware of the car’s cinematic significance, initially thought it was a mad scientist’s kit car or a science fair project gone wrong. With the purchase price equivalent to around $207 in 2019 dollars, they could have easily sold it as a parts car and made a small profit, leaving them with a free storage unit. However, their discovery took an unexpected turn when truckers identified the unique vehicle over CB radio as they transported it home.

Transitioning Ownership

Recognizing the Esprit’s historic value, the couple, who were not collectors themselves, decided to commission a cosmetic restoration and entrusted auction house RM Sotheby’s to handle its sale in 2013. A mysterious buyer, later revealed to be Elon Musk himself, stepped forward and acquired the non-running movie prop for a remarkable sum of $997,000.

Musk’s Ambitious Plans

Elon Musk, known for his ambitious projects, revealed his intentions for the Bond-inspired Lotus Esprit. Disappointed to learn that it couldn’t actually transform into a submarine, he announced plans to upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and attempt to make it a functional underwater vehicle. The vision of a real-life transforming car excited many, and Musk’s announcement generated significant buzz.

A Project Car with Delays

As with any project, even those owned by billionaires, unexpected delays can arise. While there is little evidence to suggest that the Esprit has been transformed into a swimming marvel or morphed into a submarine at the push of a button, it hasn’t stopped Musk’s imagination from running wild.

Influence on the Cybertruck

During a Twitter exchange, Elon Musk candidly admitted that the design of the Lotus Esprit, with its distinctive lines penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, had influenced the creation of Tesla’s Cybertruck. This revelation piqued the curiosity of enthusiasts and left many wondering about Lotus’ perspective on this unexpected connection between two iconic vehicles.

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https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/01/couple-paid-100-for-car-elon-musk-bought-it-from-them-for-6-figures.html?&qsearchterm=LOTUS%20CAR

FAQ

1. How did Elon Musk come to own the Lotus Esprit submarine?

Elon Musk acquired the Lotus Esprit submarine through a purchase at an auction held by RM Sotheby’s in 2013. The car, which was featured in the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” caught Musk’s attention due to its unique history and the opportunity it presented for his ambitious projects. Musk, always on the lookout for innovative ideas and iconic artifacts, saw potential in the Esprit and decided to make it his own.

2. What were the modifications made to the Lotus Esprit for it to function as a submarine?

To transform the Lotus Esprit into a functional submarine for its appearance in the James Bond film, extensive modifications were made. The wheel arches and underbody were welded to enable underwater navigation, and winglets were added to improve stability. Additionally, the car was equipped with front-mounted missile launchers. These modifications, which reportedly cost $100,000 at the time, allowed the Lotus Esprit to fulfill its role as a cinematic underwater vehicle.

3. Did Elon Musk succeed in transforming the Lotus Esprit into a real submarine?

While Elon Musk expressed his intention to upgrade the Lotus Esprit with a Tesla electric powertrain and make it a functional submarine, there is limited evidence to suggest that he has achieved this transformation. Despite Musk’s ambitious plans, it is unclear whether the Esprit has become a fully operational submarine capable of navigating underwater at the push of a button. Nevertheless, Musk’s vision and dedication to innovation continue to inspire and captivate audiences around the world.

4. What is the significance of the Lotus Esprit in Hollywood history?

The Lotus Esprit holds significant importance in Hollywood history due to its appearance in the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” As one of Bond’s iconic vehicles, the Esprit became synonymous with the secret agent’s daring adventures, particularly its ability to transform into a submarine. Its unique design and portrayal in the film have made it a sought-after collectible among movie enthusiasts and automobile aficionados alike.

5. How did the couple from Long Island come across the hidden treasure of the Lotus Esprit?

The couple from Long Island stumbled upon the hidden treasure of the Lotus Esprit by purchasing a locked storage unit for just $100. Little did they know that within this storage unit, they would discover the iconic car featured in the James Bond film. The serendipitous find not only surprised the couple but also presented them with a valuable piece of cinematic history that would eventually capture the attention of Elon Musk.

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6. What is the connection between the Lotus Esprit and the Cybertruck?

Elon Musk revealed on Twitter that the design of the Lotus Esprit, particularly its distinctive lines penned by Giorgetto Giugiaro, partly influenced the creation of Tesla’s Cybertruck. The angular and futuristic aesthetic of the Esprit resonated with Musk, who sought to infuse similar boldness into the design of the Cybertruck. This unexpected connection between two iconic vehicles showcases the interplay between inspiration, creativity, and the evolution of automotive design.

7. How much did Elon Musk pay for the Lotus Esprit submarine?

Elon Musk acquired the Lotus Esprit submarine at an auction for a staggering sum of $997,000. The significant price tag reflects not only the car’s intrinsic value as a unique movie prop but also the allure of owning a piece of James Bond history. Musk’s willingness to invest such a substantial amount highlights his passion for innovation and his desire to be part of remarkable endeavors that capture the imagination of people worldwide.

8. Has Elon Musk made any progress in making the Lotus Esprit a functional submarine?

While Elon Musk expressed his plans to upgrade the Lotus Esprit with a Tesla electric powertrain and attempt to make it a functional submarine, the progress made in realizing this vision remains unclear. The ambitious nature of the project and the technical challenges involved may have contributed to potential delays or modifications to the original plan. However, Musk’s reputation for pushing boundaries and his track record of groundbreaking achievements keep enthusiasts eagerly awaiting updates on the Esprit’s transformation.

9. What is the current condition of the Lotus Esprit submarine?

The current condition of the Lotus Esprit submarine is relatively unknown to the public. While it is likely that Elon Musk has taken steps to preserve and potentially modify the car, there is little concrete information regarding its current state. Musk’s various commitments and projects, including those related to SpaceX and Tesla, might have diverted his attention from the Esprit, leaving its status as a functional submarine uncertain.

10. How did the Lotus Esprit submarine incident lead Elon Musk to court?

Elon Musk found himself in court after insulting a diver who criticized his plan to rescue a Thai soccer team using a purpose-built mini submarine. Musk’s reaction to the criticism resulted in a legal dispute that highlighted the complexities of public perception, accountability, and the responsibilities of individuals in positions of influence. The incident served as a reminder of the challenges and controversies that can arise in the midst of high-profile projects and public scrutiny.

Conclusion

Elon Musk’s journey into the world of submarines, ignited by his ownership of the Lotus Esprit, highlights his visionary mindset and determination to bring transformative ideas to life. While the realization of a fully functional submarine remains a work in progress, Musk’s passion for pushing boundaries continues to inspire and captivate. The connections between the Lotus Esprit, the Cybertruck, and his ongoing projects illustrate the interplay of inspiration and innovation in shaping the future of transportation. As we await further developments, Musk’s ventures remind us that imagination and audacity are essential drivers of progress in the ever-evolving world of technology and exploration.

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