Staff from Bonhams auctioneers pose with the Lotus Esprit
from 'The Spy Who Loved Me' in this file photo. Getty
Los Angeles billionaire Elon Musk secretly purchased the
amphibious sports car that appeared as a movie prop in a 1970s
James Bond film with the intention of converting it into the
Musk, chief executive of electric car company Tesla Motors
and rocket maker SpaceX, bought the car anonymously at
auction in London on September 9 for almost $1 million.
In the 1977 film "The Spy Who Loved Me," starring Roger Moore
as Agent 007, Bond drives his white Lotus Esprit off a pier
and into the sea. As the car sinks underwater, he yanks on
the shifter and the car transforms into a submarine.
"I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually
transform," Musk said in an email. "What I'm going to do is
upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make
it transform for real."
Elon Musk. Photo Reuters
Musk was unmasked last week as the "mystery buyer" by the
auto blog Jalopnik. It's unclear why Musk wanted to be
His proposal would probably be dismissed as a fantasy if it
were made by anyone else. But Musk has amassed a fortune and
built an empire through success with several startup
companies in a range of industries.
The 42-year-old South African immigrant made his fortune when
he co-founded and sold online payment business PayPal to eBay
Inc. for $1.5 billion.
Armed with his personal fortune and a Rolodex full of Silicon
Valley venture capitalists, Musk started SpaceX, or Space
Exploration Technologies Corp., and co-founded electric car
giant Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif.
In August, he unveiled plans for a mass-transit system called
the Hyperloop, which would take paying passengers from Los
Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.
Having a fully functional submersible car would be a tall
order. For the movie, producers had several Lotuses modified
to appear as a self-propelled submarine.
In the famous sequence, Bond plunges the car into the water
to evade an evildoer in a helicopter - black, of course. As
the car submerges, the wheels draw into the body and it
sprouts fins from the side panels. Then Bond launches a
missile from the top of the car to blow the chopper to bits.
Musk did not say whether it would have weapons capabilities.