Tesla’s Elon Musk buys 007’s Lotus sub car

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Tesla s Elon Musk wants to make sub car a reality

Elon Musk goes 007!

Friday, 18 Oct 2013 | 2:56 PM ET

Tesla s Elon Musk pays nearly $1 million for a James Bond submarine car. CNBC s Mandy Drury, Brian Balthazar, Pop Goes the Week.com and Robert Frank, discuss.

Movie memorabilia can collect some steep premiums these days, so few were surprised when a mystery buyer shelled out close to $1 million for the Lotus-based submarine from the 1970s-era James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

A James Bond car/submarine, nicknamed Wet Nellie, was discovered at a storage facility in Long Island by a blue collar worker in 1989. The car is expected to bring in over $1 million at auction, reports CNBC s Robert Frank.

With the prerequisite Bond girl alongside, the super spy evades an attacking helicopter by plunging his car off a pier. The wheels retract, fins emerge and with the touch of another button, a rocket launches, blasting the chopper from the sky.

In fact, there were several different Lotus sports cars used in the film, each modified for a specific shot, such as deploying the fins. The actual Esprit submarine was a prop body that was operated by a stunt man wearing scuba gear. It was that version sold by RM Auctions to Musk.

Musk hasn’t said, yet, what his exact plans are—for example, whether it will be able to drive on land and then convert to a true submarine—nor whether he plans to show off the final version by personally driving off a pier.

One thing is clear, despite some eccentricities, Musk backs his plans up with cash—lots of it.


Originally making a fortune from the Internet financial service PayPal, he has since branched into a variety of different fields. In the automotive world, he is probably best known as the founder and CEO of upstart battery-carmaker Tesla Motors, whose Model S sedan has become one of the market’s few battery-electric success stories.

Musk also founded Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, a California-based private rocket service that has a major contract to run supply ships to the International Space Station. SpaceX is currently developing a manned rocket that would take over American astronaut launch duties from the Russians.

Musk is also dabbling in solar power and has even proposed a novel alternative to high-speed rail in which passengers would be launched at nearly the speed of sound in low-pressure tubes connecting major cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

By comparison, it might seem, transforming a movie prop into a working sub car might seem easy.

There are, incidentally, several car-to-boat projects underway, and those with serious wealth now can buy their own submarines. But transforming a car into a sub at the touch of a button would be something worthy of Q Branch if Musk can pull it off.

— By CNBC Contributor Paul A. Eisenstein. Follow him on Twitter @DetroitBureau or at thedetroitbureau.com .

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