How A James Bond Car Came To Inspire The Tesla Cybertruck Design

08 December 2019
Gear, Cars, Tesla, James Bond, Elon Musk, Tesla Cybertruck Design, Dubai Police, The Spy Who Loved Me
Image: United Artists

And, how it ended up in the possession of Elon Musk for a cool $1.45 million

If ever there was a symbol of just what a cataclysmic disaster 2019 has been, it’s undoubtedly the epic fail that was the launch of the Cybertruck. As with most fails, it can roughly be summarised as an unprecedented amount of hype surrounding the launch of a new vehicle, which ultimately didn’t live up to its expectations.

Only in this instance, such shortcomings were live-streamed during a launch event that had attracted hundreds, and they weren’t exactly shortcomings so much as they were design flaws.

Having announced that the Cybertruck would boast shatterproof windows that are impervious to damage, Musk invited the company’s design chief Franz von Holzhausen to hurl a metal ball at the windows.

See also: Have Dubai Police Ordered a Tesla CyberTruck?

The crowd waited with anticipation, eager to applaud the incredible feat of engineering. But the window shattered. There were gasps, then silence. Then expletives from Musk. A second attempt was aimed at another window. The same thing happened.

But regardless of this glaring fault, the Cybertruck still proved successful as Musk announced there had been 187,000 orders for the vehicle, just 40 hours after Tesla first allowed customers to reserve the new vehicle. It’s good news for Tesla, but as for those of us all wondering how Musk got the idea for the Cybertruck, CNBC have finally revealed the origin thanks to some impressive investigative journalism.

Musk actually bought a car in 2013 which came to inspire the futuristic vehicle Tesla would launch this year. But the story isn’t that straightforward. It also involves James Bond, a couple, and a very reasonable profit.

But to begin, let’s examine the car. It might look somewhat familiar for those who consider themselves James Bond movie buffs, as it was in fact the same vehicle featured in the movie, The Spy Who Loved Me.

Back in 1989, a couple from Long Island reportedly bought an unclaimed storage unit for $146, but had no idea what was inside. And to the surprise (as is always the case with these kinds of stories), the unit contained a 1976 Lotus Esprit sports car, the very same from the Bond movie.

The film saw the car given the nickname “Wet Nillie”, as it famously turned into a submarine and fired missiles beneath water.

It was only when the husband “went out and rented the movie on VHS and saw what he had” that they realised how valuable the vehicle was, as the NBC reports. After restoring the vehicle, the couple occasionally displayed it in exhibits but eventually put it up for auction in 2013. So in 2013 at RM Sotheby’s, the car went up for auction and was snapped up by Musk for what is reported to be a cool $1.45 million.

As auto blog Jalopnik suggests, Musk had grown up watching the Bond flicks and consequently had an affinity for the vehicle. He told the publication in an statement in 2013: “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.”

He added, “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.”

So, there you go. While everyone has been gazing at the Cybertruck with incredulity and fashioning memes out of its design, it actually does have an origin story – James Bond. Which, naturally, is where most style evolutions occur.


Via GQ Australia