Elon Musk purchased an abandoned car featured in an old James Bond film, crediting the vehicle as partial inspiration for the Tesla Cybertruck’s design.
A couple from Long Island, New York became the inadvertent new owners of a 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car when they purchased an unclaimed storage unit for roughly $100 in 1989, according to CNBC.
The couple, who has chosen to remain anonymous, made the purchase without knowing what was inside the unit, similar to the reality show “Storage Wars.”
Even after the couple unveiled the contents of their storage unit, they still did not know the value of the long-forgotten vehicle inside. The 1976 Lotus Esprit was used in the 1977 James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” but the couple had never seen a Bond film.
In the movie, the white sports car captivated audiences when it turned into a submarine and was able to fire weapons while underwater.
Cybertruck design influenced partly by The Spy Who Loved Me https://t.co/HKBzxFNfzm
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2019
According to Doug Redenius, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, which authenticated the car, the couple “really didn’t know what it was” when they decided to keep the car.
“They had no idea how valuable their discovery was,” Redenius told CNBC.
The couple decided to make a few cosmetic improvements to the car and loaded it onto a tow truck to bring it to their home. But during the drive, passing truckers took notice of the famous vehicle and contacted the couple over CB radio to marvel at the Bond vehicle they were towing.
— Autoblog (@therealautoblog) December 3, 2019
According to Redenius, the husband quickly “went out and rented the movie on VHS and saw what he had.”
The couple spent roughly two decades showing the car at various exhibits before placing it for auction in 2013.
Redenius, who authenticated the car with the original builders, told the couple that he believed they could have quite a comfortable life if the car sold for what it was worth.
The Lotus sold at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2013 to an anonymous buyer. According to CNBC, it was revealed that the new owner was Elon Musk, who reportedly paid $977,000 for the famous vehicle.
Auto news site Jalopnik confirmed that Musk was the buyer, but disclosed that he paid close to $866,000.
Regardless of the amount, Musk was thrilled to own the car, according to a statement he gave Jalopnik in 2013.
“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,” Musk said.
“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.”
Fast forward to 2019, where a global audience laid eyes on the Tesla Cybertruck for the first time, the design inspired in part by the spy car that Musk loved as a kid.
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