In The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), James Bond is given a Lotus Espirit S1 that doubles as a submarine.
More than thirty years after that movie’s release, a contractor opened up a random Long Island storage container to find one of the automobile-submarines used in filming. He promptly put it up for auction, and Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk purchased it for a cool $866,000.
But Musk isn’t planning to restore the Bond car and put it in a garage somewhere: he wants to make it run.
“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,” Tesla PR wrote in a statement to Jalopnik. “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.”
Whether that means Musk will install new equipment in the actual prop, or have his engineers build a seaworthy replica, is an open question. What’s more certain is that Musk has the capability (and cash) to make something like that happen, considering how he already manages the construction of next-generation electric cars and reusable rockets for a living.
Musk earned his first fortune from financial-services firm X.com, which eventually merged with Confinity, the company behind PayPal. When eBay bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion, it made him rich enough to found Tesla and SpaceX, both of which have evolved into moneymaking enterprises. So even when he posts borderline-outlandish Tweets such as “We figured out how to design rocket parts just w hand movements through the air (seriously),” people tend to take him seriously.
And with rockets and a fleet of electric and submersible cars at his disposal, it’s only a matter of time before Musk takes the inevitable next step and becomes a James Bond supervillain.