Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO and PayPal co-founder has been revealed as the anonymous bidder who paid $860,000, for the submarine car from the 1977 Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.”
The story of the white Lotus, used for filming all of the underwater sequences in the Bond film already has more twists and turns than the average Ian Fleming novel.
After production wrapped, the car was shipped around the world to help publicize the film then ended up in Long Island, New York where it vanished. In 1989 the car was ‘bought’ for the princely sum of $100 when the storage unit in which it was housed was put up for blind auction due to non-payment of rent. Whoever had put it into storage had paid for 10 years up front and then forgotten all about it. The car was authenticated and hit the museum and Bond event circuit, before being put up for auction in London in September.
And while the sale, by RM Auctions, didn’t break any Bond-related records — the scarcely believable $4,608,500 paid in 2010 for the Aston Martin DB5 from “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” is still the figure to beat — the winning bid did raise eyebrows.
As the co-creator of an internet payment system, a seriously high-tech gadget-laden car company and owner of a firm that builds and send rockets into space, South African-born Elon Musk has all the qualities required of a larger-than-life Bond villain — all that’s missing is a home cunningly concealed inside an active volcano.
And his plans for the Lotus are equally cinematic. In a statement issued to Jalopnik, he said “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. What I’m going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real.”
Although the Lotus that went under the hammer is a fully-fledged submarine, complete with ‘functioning’ weapons, it has no internal combustion engine, drive shaft or gearbox. Nor does it have wheels, fold-in or otherwise and so cannot be driven on roads — unless they’re completely flooded, of course.
This won’t be Musk’s first brush with Lotus, the original Tesla S roadster was based on the Lotus Elise platform and its chassis and panels were built by the eccentric supercar firm in the UK before being shipped to the US for the installation of the Tesla all-electric powertrain and battery packs.