Tesla's Elon Musk Revealed as James Bond Submarine Car Buyer

James Bond Submarine Car Auction - H 2013
RM Auctions

The Tesla CEO paid $968,000 for the submersible Lotus Esprit used in "The Spy Who Loved Me" and is reportedly planning to turn it into a real submersible car.

The winning bidder for the Lotus Esprit featured in the underwater sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me that sold at auction in London last month has been identified as Elon Musk, the futurist and Tesla Motors CEO. 

According to Jalopnik, Musk and another buyer engaged in a heated bidding war before Musk landed the submersible Esprit for $968,000. A longtime car enthusiast, Musk is said to have based the design of the first Tesla on the Lotus Elise. Tesla PR also told the car blog that Musk plans to add a Tesla drive train to the car and will attempt to make it transform into a working submarine.

"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. I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform," Musk said. "What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."

The James Bond car was discovered covered in blankets in 1989 by a Long Island building contractor in a storage container purchased for $100. 

The Ian Fleming Foundation later authenticated the car as the vehicle used in the movie. It had been placed in storage after the film was released and remained there for 10 years until the storage fee was forfeited. The contractor who purchased the container at first had no idea that the car was the same one used in the Bond movie.

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In The Spy Who Loved MeRoger Moore, as 007, under pursuit from a helicopter, drives the car off the end of a pier into the sea. The Lotus retracts its wheels, sprouts stabilizers and rudders, and skims just below the water's surface.

"I believe it's time we've said goodbye to an uninvited guest," Moore tells the nonplussed Barbara Bach, riding shotgun. When Moore presses a button on the dashboard, a missile streaks from the car, destroying the helicopter.

This was the first time the Esprit had been offered for sale since its discovery. The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball sold for $4.6 million in 2010.