On buying a barn for just $100 back in 1989, a couple from Long Island opened up their new purchase to find a car covered in dirty sheets. Upon removing these sheets, they realised it was an old 1976 Lotus Esprit.
Now, the S1 Esprit is a very nice car which would make you a nice chunk of money these days, especially if you bought it for $100. But the Lotus they found wasn’t any old car. This one was modified for use in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
The car had been modified to resemble a submarine other than a road-going Esprit, with its underbody being welded shut and its wheel wells covered over and made water tight. At the rear it had four propellors which were powered by a battery pack in the cabin, and of course, the iconic front-mounted missile launchers stood proud. Winglets on each side of the car stabilised it underwater and, oh yes, it did actually work. The car was a fully functioning submarine.
These modifications were said to have cost upwards of $100,000 – a thousand times what was paid for the car years later, but unfortunately the new owners had no idea. Thankfully though, a trucker with a CB radio let them know of its cultural significance as they hauled it home on a trailer.
Soon it was up for auction with RM Sotheby’s, where it was sold for $997,000. The buyer later turned out to be Elon Musk.
“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,” he said at the time.
Cybertruck design influenced partly by The Spy Who Loved Me https://t.co/HKBzxFNfzm
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 21, 2019
We can thank this story for the design of the Cybertruck, which he explained on Twitter had some input on the overall design.