back to article Billionaire vows to turn 007's Lotus Esprit into actual submarine car

The anonymous buyer of the Lotus Esprit submarine car from the James Bond flick The Spy Who Loved Me has turned out to be none other than billionaire inventor Elon Musk. The white car made famous in Roger Moore's Bond film was sold at auction in the UK last month for £550,000. As is typical of most auctions, the identity of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why didn't he just buy a normal Esprit...

    ..oh because he CAN by the "proper" one. Darn

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Why didn't he just buy a normal Esprit...

      I suspect many of the parts will be swapped out if he plans to make it viable...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why didn't he just buy a normal Esprit...

      because a 'normal' Esprit will forever a be a replica, and Top Gear kinda did that already.

      Buy the original and make it into the version seen on screen, it'll forever be a genuine one of a kind.

      1. Opto-mech

        Re: Why didn't he just buy a normal Esprit...

        They made a number of these cars for the film. Here is a link to one that was restored in Finland.

  2. Ralph B

    In 5 years time ...

    In 5 years' time we'll be hearing how Elon Musk was tragically killed in a combined electrocution, drowning and lithium/water explosion incident.

    (Unless he is very, very careful about removing every single Lucas component.)

    1. joanbee

      Re: In 5 years time ...

      Edison invented the phonograph and the lightbulb. Lucas invented the short and the intermittent open.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: In 5 years time ...

        Swan invited the lightbulb

      2. Nick Pettefar

        Re: In 5 years time ...

        I believe that history and the truth shows that he invented neither. He did want us all to use DC though and murdered an elephant...

    2. Montreal Sean

      Re: In 5 years time ...

      I wouldn't worry, Lucas electrics work as well underwater as they do above.

  3. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Part of me wants to diss Elon for all the wacky stuff he is trying to do.

    The slightly larger part of me wishes all billionaires were so awesome and did wacky stuff like Elon.

    Keep it up dude!

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Hmmm...

      Given that he appears to have made a success out of both electric sportscars and cheap rockets, I'd be very cautious about using the word wacky about any of this guy's projects. I'm sure he's bound to screw something up, as if you keep trying hard things that's pretty much inevitable.

      But he appears to have taken two established industries (rockets and cars), walked in and said, "what's so difficult about this then?" Then urinated upon the incumbent big players from a very large height, in a very short time. It's all rather impressive.

      Admittedly he's also put a cheese into orbit, so I guess wacky does apply somewhat...

      I'm really disappointed that he didn't put some port into orbit to go with it - major logistical screw-up there. But I hope he invited some friends round for dinner, and then proceeded to produce the world's most amazing cheeseboard. There's one-in-the-eye for your fellow billionaires!

      1. Adam 1

        Re: Hmmm...

        > I'm really disappointed that he didn't put some port into orbit to go with it

        Particularly considering there is the biggest known source of cheese already in space.

  4. Alister

    So, he wants to take car powered by a humungous battery of cells which object violently to being short circuited, and sink it in water...

    More power to his elbow, I say.

    1. SirDigalot

      salt water no less, the somewhat more conductive stuff

      but hey it is still awesome.. yolo

      1. Professor Clifton Shallot



        This is Bond, after all.

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      While batteries obviously need to be kept safe from water I don't see that having a battery is in itself a dumb idea. After all, virtually all submarines except the nuclear kind use batteries when they are submerged to propel themselves forwards.

    3. David Kelly 2

      Its the Electric Boat Division which makes submarines. Even nuclear submarines.

      So an electric underwater car is *conventional* and not the exemption. Other than for being a car.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        "So an electric underwater car is *conventional* and not the exemption. Other than for being a car." It might be easier to put wheels on a submarine. I hope he is also thinking on putting wings on the thing. And I also think it*s fine with somebody who wants to build stuff.

        1. Steve the Cynic

          "It might be easier to put wheels on a submarine."

          It has been done in the past. The US submarine NR-1 had "bottoming wheels".

      2. Steve the Cynic

        "Its the Electric Boat Division which makes submarines"

        Originally, of course, Electric Boat made, well, electric boats. Surface boats, that is, not submarines. Later on, their expertise in marine electrics got them into submarines.

  5. Don Jefe

    Reckon he didn't know that it didn't actually transform when he bought it, and now he's pissed but you can't return auction purchases and now he's going to make it happen to save face.

    I'm picturing Musk and his buddies standing around, half drunk, and ramping the car into a lake, only to be disappointed and when it sinks and being laughed at. Don't laugh at the man who builds his own rockets he thinks...

    1. GettinSadda

      Actually it's the other way around. The "car" can't drive on land, but is a working submarine!

  6. Annihilator Silver badge


    Can he not just do it with a normal car instead of butchering a piece of film history?

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Really?

      Exactly what I thought. This is like someone wishing the Mona Lisa was 3D so modifying the original to jump out at you with 3D glasses on.

      1. Adam 1

        Re: Really?

        Don't give him any ideas

    2. Geoff Campbell

      Re: Really?

      History is bunk. Why hoard such things?


      1. Geoff Campbell

        Re: Really?

        Your down-votes fall upon me like a gentle summer shower...

        Bear in mind that this piece of priceless movie memorabilia was so treasured and sought-after that the container it had been chucked into after filming was completed was sold in 1989 with no-body knowing what was stored inside.

        Should we put all movie props in a museum? It'll have to be a big one. How about we just treasure the films, and let the near-autistic male collector gene wither and die like the disease it is?


    3. Yag

      Re: Really?

      If he manage to perform the conversion and retain the external aspect of the car, then it will be more of an awesome hommage than a butcher job.

  7. Faye B

    Whatever next

    I guess this is to go with his Iron Man suit and Batmobile he has hidden away in his hi-tech lair, where Thunderbird 5 takes off. Don't we all wish we could live out our childhood dreams.

    1. Faye B

      Re: Whatever next

      Oops, that should have been Thunderbird 3 of course.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Whatever next

      I see you've decided he's a Bruce Wayne / Tony Stark good billionaire.

      This is of course a possibility. However given his interest in rockets and monorails (well vacuum tube railways is close enough...) - I beg to suggest that we need to consider the alternative here. I'm afraid it's nominative determinism all over again. If you give someone a supervillain's name, such as Elon Musk, then you really can't be surprised when he goes off the rails and tries to destroy the world.

      When the super-mutated-killer bacteria from his 'flying cheese into space' experiment start wiping out humanity, don't say I didn't warn you!

      What's that? 5 black Tesla Roadsters have just pulled up outside? OHHHH SHHHHIIIIII......





    3. Stuart Castle Silver badge

      Re: Whatever next

      He might be planning Thunderbird 5 as well.. He is spending an awful lot developing usable rockets, and I am fairly certain they'd come in handy for assembling Thunderbird 5.

  8. Tom_

    Next up...

    Doc Brown's DeLorean.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: Next up...

      I'd settle for a hoverboard.

  9. Hairy Spod

    Why so many comments about batteries and water. Its a submarine and most submarines run on batteries.

    Its no crazier than having a car that has petrol in it, petrol that can burn in air.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      All of ours are nuclear

      I think that we have the only 100% nuclear fleet there is.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: All of ours are nuclear

        Bragging, are we. Remember Romney revealed that you have fewer canoes than 60 years ago.

    2. Vic

      > Its a submarine

      It's a Lotus.

      As a former Esprit owner, I can assure you that it comes nowhere near the watertight requirement for a submarine...


      1. Ian Yates

        Only needs to be partially watertight and then pressurised; a motorised diving bell/bathysphere.

        Part of me thinks Top Gear might already have done that...?

        1. Vic

          > Only needs to be partially watertight

          Have you ever ownedf an Esprit?

          Fantastic car, it truly is. But the two adjectives you wouldn' apply are "reliable" and "watertight"...


      2. MJI Silver badge


        I think Elon knows about Lotuses - look at the Tesla - Lotus chassis design

        1. Vic

          Re: Lotus

          > look at the Tesla - Lotus chassis design

          The Tesla is based on the Elise. That's about as different as could possibly be from an Esprit.


    3. Peter2 Silver badge

      They don't run on lithium batteries, the MSDS of which states that your not supposed to put them in airtight containers as they need to be able to vent hydrogen when both charging and discharging iirc. If the hydrogen can't escape and builds up enough pressure it hits the point where it combusts, at which point you've constructed a delayed action time bomb.

  10. arober11

    Top Gear have been there and done that....

    1. MrXavia

      Re: Top Gear have been there and done that....

      After watching that I REALLY want to make one myself!

  11. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Somewhere to start...

    Here's the Gadget Show playing with the Quadski, a Quadbike which transforms into a pretty decent jetski.

  12. phil dude

    i wonder....

    would a battery covered in the super hydrophobic stuff, not short out...?



    1. Adam Foxton

      Re: i wonder....

      Unfortunately yes it would short out at any significant voltage- the electric would just arc through it to the water. Might work with low-voltage PCBs, but then there are already waterproofing agents for those.

      When electronics are to be put under water, though, they're typically either put in a 'dry' housing or in an oil-filled container of some sort. A 'dry' housing means they can be kept in any environment you want (typically sea-level pressures with regular air) but is expensive. Oil-filled boxes are cheap but mean the electronics see the full pressure of the water (so you either have a pretty limited depth before things break (up to 50m is generally possible with regular 'home' electronics that don't include electrolytic caps) or have to modify the electronics to remove 'crushable' components like crystals).

      An 'oil-filled and compensated' 3-phase motor could hit the bottom of the Challenger Deep and still work fine as it's just a block of metal with another block of metal inside it, with the void filled with oil and so is more or less incompressible.

      The body of the Lotus, however, would have to be foot-thick Titanium to keep the driver safe from the pressure (at that depth, about 32,000psi!)!

  13. Evil Auditor


    Ask Rinspeed, they did it, with a Lotus. Not as sexy as the Esprit though.

  14. WaveSynthBeep

    Auction not as described

    Time to claim on the PayPal buyer protection?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Billionaire Musk. The new fragrance from [insert name of pretentious tosser]

    1. ratfox


      Today I learned there is such a thing as Angry Bird perfume, so…

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        So.. it will help you to avoid angry birds.

  16. Myvekk

    A submarine that can fly? You are thinking of the Sky 1, then...

    Thank you Gerry & Sylvia Anderson.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      I used to like the flying sub

      in Voyage to the bottom of the sea

  17. Rustident Spaceniak

    That's it, one project too many.

    The guy is getting as hyperbolic as Mr Stromberg himself. Sure he can pull off many things, or have them pulled off for him; but there's a limit to what even the most wacky genius can handle. Watch him peaking.

  18. phil 27

    The esprit is just a fibreglass cover over a X form frame, pretty adaptable for projects like this.

    Making the body watertight and strengthening it to cope with the pressures is do-able for a man of his resources, and sealing up the drivetrain also.

    The layout of the esprit lends itself to this too, its rear/mid engine means adapting a different transaxle that can be sealed is easier, and plenty of battery root around the engine bay to replace the exploding super leaky petrol tanks. As for damaging a icon, pass me the hacksaw, I'll make the first cuts for you :)

    I owned a fire damaged esprit for 3 days after a cheeky £25 ebay bid won it, I bought it for the adaptable running gear (which I still have, underneath my nova kitcar bodyshell with a rover v8 and renault un1 transaxle), and we were amazed at how easy it was to detach the shell complete, which I'd sold on to a lotus dealer covering all of my costs to purchase the car with.

    All power to mr musk, I wish I had the resources to play with interesting stuff like he does.

  19. Idocrase

    Okay, someone persuade this guy to buy a DeLorean already. I call dibs on the first hoverboard he brings back with him.

  20. punk4evr

    Buy STEAM/Valve Please.

    I think he should buy up Steam/Valve and Finally get the bastards to release half life 3!!!.

    While he's at it, he can work on manufacturing some holographic satellites that can project the 3d images anywhere. Oh, this would also be awesome for mmorpg's! And exclusive access to steampowered to run the holo 3d games?

    Ok I outed my idea. Need to make that work, I have ideas on that also.

    But yea, well, theres always the idea of buying up the game platform and perhaps a oh, 3d video card company, and creating a market to buy into.

    But hay, i'm just going on now.

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