Los Angeles billionaire Elon Musk secretly purchased the amphibious sports car that appeared as a movie prop in a 1970s James Bond film with the intention of converting it into the real thing.
Musk, chief executive of electric car company Tesla Motors and rocket maker SpaceX, bought the car anonymously at auction in London on Sept. 9 for $989,000.
In the 1977 film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” starring Roger Moore as Agent 007, Bond drives his white Lotus Esprit off a pier and into the sea. As the car sinks underwater, he yanks on the shifter and the car transforms into a submarine.
"I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform,” Musk said in an email. “What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real."
Musk was unmasked Thursday as the "mystery buyer" by the auto blog Jalopnik. It’s unclear why Musk wanted to be anonymous in the first place.
This sort of proposal would probably be dismissed as the fantasy of an uber-fan boy if it were made by anyone else. But Musk has amassed a fortune and built an empire through success with several startup companies in a wide range of industries.
The 42-year-old South African emigrant made his fortune when he cofounded and sold online payment business PayPal to EBay Inc. for $1.5 billion.
Armed with his personal fortune and a Rolodex full of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, Musk started SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corp., and co-founded Tesla Motors Inc. in Palo Alto.
In August, he unveiled plans for a mass-transit system called the Hyperloop, which would take paying passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.
Having a fully functional submersible car will be a tall order. For the movie, producers had several Lotuses modified to appear as a self-propelled submarine.
In the iconic sequence, Bond plunges the car into the water to evade an evil-doer in a helicopter — black, of course. As it submerges, the car’s wheels draw into the body and, sprouts fins from the side panels. Then Bond launches a missile from the top of the car to blow the chopper to bits.
Musk did not say whether it will have weapons capabilities.
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