Power Players

This is the James Bond sports car Elon Musk bought for nearly $1 million that inspired Tesla Cybertruck

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveils the Cybertruck at the TeslaDesign Studio in Hawthorne, Calif. The cracked window glass occurred during a demonstration on the strength of the glass.
Robert Hanashiro | USA TODAY | Reuters

The long wait for Elon Musk to unveil Tesla's all-electric pickup truck finally ended on Thursday night — the big reveal definitely caused a stir.

One Wall Street analyst said the electric Cybertruck looks "really weird," while other viewers marveled that at the much-hyped, live-streamed unveiling a Tesla designer smashed two of the truck's windows, which Musk had described as bulletproof. ("We will fix it in post," Musk said.)

And while some reviewers have described the vehicle as being like "nothing we've ever seen," Musk has said the pickup's design was inspired by two films: sci-fi classic "Blade Runner" and the 1977 James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me." 

The Bond film featured a 1976 Lotus Esprit car that doubled as a submarine. The billionaire tweeted a clip of the film on Thursday, noting that the Cybertruck's design was "influenced partly" by the car in the movie.


Musk's Cybertruck has an intensely angular design that echos that of the white Lotus Esprit.


In fact, Musk was so struck by the Lotus that in 2013 he bought one of the actual vehicles used in filming, reportedly for about $997,000 during a RM Sotheby's auction.

Actors Barbara Bach and Roger Moore, stars of the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me," sit on the 1976 Lotus Esprit.
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

"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. 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," Musk said in a statement to Jalopnik after buying the car.

National Motor Museum | Heritage Images | Getty Images

Interestingly, the RM Sotheby's lot description for the car notes that it actually could perform as a submarine, though it could not be driven on land, as the car in question was modified for filming the movie's underwater scenes.

Sotheby's also notes that the car, which is nicknamed "Wet Nellie," features "a bank of four propellers" in the back of the vehicle that allow it to move underwater while being powered by electric motors within a water-tight compartment.

The 1976 Lotus Esprit, known as "Wet Nellie," that was used in the James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me."
Leon Neal | AFP via Getty Images

The car also features "articulated fins" that can be moved with mechanical levers to steer, while diving underwater is made possible by ballast tanks. The underwater scenes in the film were actually performed by a retired U.S. Navy SEAL wearing full scuba gear with an oxygen tank, as the car's interior was filled with water, according to Sotheby's.

After the Lotus Esprit finished filming in "The Spy Who Loved Me," the car was kept in a storage unit in Long Island, New York for more than a decade. In 1989, the storage unit had been unclaimed for several years, so it was auctioned off without being opened at a blind auction, Sotheby's notes.

A building contractor and his wife bought the unit for just $100 and found the famous car underneath a covering of blankets. They "cosmetically restored" the vehicle and displayed it in occasional exhibits until it was auctioned off again six years ago, with Musk supplying the winning bid.

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