Here's how Elon Musk bought James Bond's Lotus Esprit

The story of how Tesla CEO Elon Musk ended up with a functioning submarine car used in "The Spy Who Loved Me"

2y ago

There have been many famous movie cars, however, very few have the same notoriety as Bond's Lotus Esprit submarine from the film "The Spy Who Loved Me". Back in 1977 we saw a gorgeous Mk.1 Lotus Esprit with bond at the wheel sail off a pier into the water. Moments later the wheels retracted, and fins popped out, this Lotus was a Submarine!

Since then the car has forever been burned into the imaginations of kids and adults around the globe. And one of these kids happened to be Elon Musk. In an interview Musk said that, “It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater."

Years Later Elon Musk is all grown up, and now runs three companies. However, his boyish tendencies have never truly gotten away from him. Because, in late 2013 Musk payed nearly $1 million for one of eight screen used Lotus Esprits from the Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me".

Where did the car come from?

To understand this we must go back to the year 1989, when a couple from Long Island, New York paid just over $100 for an abandoned storage unit. However, it was a blind auction, so neither the couple nor the seller had any idea what was inside.

After they had paid their $100 the couple opened the storage unit to find a white 1976 Lotus Esprit sitting under some covers. Neither one of them had ever seen a Bond movie, and as a result had no idea what the car actually was.

Decades later in 2013 Doug Redenius, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, authenticated the car as the one used to shoot all of the underwater sequences in "The Spy Who Loved Me". The couple soon rented the film, and where astounded to see their car sailing into the water, with Roger Moore at the wheel.

Enter Elon Musk

Years later in 2013 the husband decided to cosmetically restore the car, fixing a few minor dents on the roof of the iconic vehicle. The car was then put on display for the next few years, visiting several museums along the way.

RM Sotheby's

RM Sotheby's

Soon after that the famed Lotus sold at an auction with RM Sotheby’s in 2013 to an anonymous buyer. It was later revealed that the new owner was non other than Elon Musk, who reportedly paid $997,000 for the car.

Musk later said that, “I was disappointed to learn that it can’t actually transform. What I’m going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real,”. This angered many movie purists who believed that the car should remain unmolested.

This particular car was used for all of underwater scenes,as a result it had no wheels, only underwater fins which could pivot via electric motors. It also couldn’t drive on land, but it did genuinely work as a submarine, with ballast tanks to make smooth diving possible. The car was also equipped with a set of 4 electric propellers to drive it underwater.

During filing the car was operated by a retired navy SEAL who was wearing a full scuba suit, as the car wasn't even remotely water-tight.



Furthermore, Elon Musk recently revealed that the famed Lotus had played a role in inspiring the Design of Tesla's controversial new "Cybertruck".


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Comments (28)

  • Really? The cybertruck is just horrendous in comparison with the Lotus.

    Like seriously, the truck is a wedge, but the lotus is balanced in those.

      2 years ago
    • Also, at least the Lotus had a flat roof with sharply sloped front windscreen and rear glass. The Cybertruck design would be less jarring IMO with a flat topped roof, not the "pyramid" look it currently has.

        2 years ago
  • He thought the lotus would work underwater ??? Yikes has he ever experienced any british car ever ?. They barely work on land. Please somebody confiscate this car from him 🙏🏻

      2 years ago
    • It does work underwater, just not on land

        2 years ago
    • Musk was disappointing the car he purchased didn't transform, not that it didn't work. And like Daniel said, it did work underwater.

        2 years ago
  • Bloody Bond villain buying Bonds car... world has gone mad!

      2 years ago
  • Musk is a child. He better not moleste that classic movie prop.

      2 years ago
  • I loved this one too.

      2 years ago