Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk has bought the Lotus submarine car prop from a 1970s James Bond movie and plans to convert it into a real car that transforms into a sub -- with the benefit of a Tesla electric powerplant.
Musk, the eclectic billionaire who is chief executive of both the electric car company and rocket maker SpaceX, confirms he bought the car at an auction last month.
"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," says Musk in an email response to a query from USA TODAY. "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."
The movie prop -- a car body that could be driven by a stunt man with scuba gear -- sold at RM Auctions evebn in London Sept. 9 for $989,000.
Car site Jalopnik identified Musk as the "mystery buyer." Musk not only confirmed to USA TODAY that he is the buyer, but disclosed his plans to make the sub real.
In the movie, Roger Moore, who starred as 007 in several Bond movies, is seen driving an Lotus Esprit sports car along a road when it is attacked by woman in a helicopter. Despite concerns of his brunette beauty in the passenger seat, Moore drives the car off a pier.
The car's wheels then retract, fins extend and the car becomes a submarine. Moore then sails along, dispatching the helicopter with a missile.
The Lotus was one of several modified for the movie. One, for instance, had the job only of showing the wheels retracting, RM Auctions says. Another was used only to show the launching of the surface-to-air missile.
Beyond his brief comment, it's unclear how far Musk intends to take his conversion. Will he make it dry inside like a true submarine, like the Lotus in the movie, or make it so it continues to be driven only by those with scuba breathing gear.