In 1989, a couple from Long Island, New York paid about $100 for an unclaimed storage unit. It was a blind auction, which means neither they nor the seller had any idea what was inside the car.
When the couple opened the unit, they were in for what could possibly be the surprise of their lives: Buried under some old blankets sat a 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car used in the filming of the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me.” In the movie, the sports car famously transforms into a submarine and shoots missiles while underwater.
Years later, Tesla CEO Elon Musk would be the one to buy their find for nearly $1 million.
After the couple “cosmetically restored” the vehicle, they showcased it in occasional exhibits over the next two decades before they would decide to put it up for auction in 2013.
Redenius added in the 2013 interview that he got to know about the car’s existence years after the couple started showcasing it, and he sought them out. He authenticated the vehicle with the original builders and put the couple in touch with RM Sotheby’s, informing the couple before the auction that ”‘if [the car] sells for what we’re hoping, that money will give you an opportunity to live very comfortably for the rest of your life.’”
The Lotus sold at auction at RM Sotheby’s in 2013 to a secret individual. It was later revealed that the new owner was Musk, and he paid $997,000, almost $1 million, for the car.
The Tesla CEO said he’d grown up watching the Bond movie.
“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,” Musk said in 2013.
To originally equip the Lotus for the movie, a marine engineering company had converted it into a functional submarine and it costed them more than $100,000.
Cybertruck design influenced partly by The Spy Who Loved Me https://t.co/HKBzxFNfzm
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2019
This car served as an inspiration for creating Cybertruck.