Elon Musk was the buyer of the Lotus submarine car prop auctioned off earlier this year, and intends to fit a Tesla electric powertrain and make it truly perform on the road and underwater. Musk spent $866,000 on the iconic Lotus, having fallen for the car after seeing it in The Spy Who Loved Me as a child growing up, Tesla confirmed to Jalopnik, but “was disappointed to learn that it can’t actually transform.”
The electric car advocate and SpaceX founder hopes to change all that, however, using the Tesla powertrain to achieve it.
“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” Musk said via a Tesla spokesperson. “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.”
It won’t be the first time Tesla’s engine technology has turned up in a non-Tesla vehicle. Toyota’s RAV4 EV, for instance, uses the same underlying hardware as the Model S, for an SUV that looks mainstream on the outside but which can quickly shred tires when the traction control is switched off.
Although the scene in the James Bond movie where the Lotus drives off a pier and into the water, converting into a submarine as it sinks, is one of the 007-series’ most memorable, in actual fact no transforming car was ever made. Instead, the film crew used different versions of the prop cars to suit driving and underwater work: the full-sized submarine version was made by specialists Perry Submarines, and wasn’t designed to be water-tight.
Instead, it was piloted by divers in full scuba gear. Smaller, remote-controlled versions were also used for filming purposes, and then another prop was pulled up out of the water and onto the beach, mounted on rails.
Nonetheless while Bond may not have had a true hybrid road/sub car, if anybody could do it today, it’s probably Elon Musk. Sadly it’s unlikely to spawn a production version in Tesla’s range, and Musk is probably too busy with the electric car company and the Hyperloop project to start up mainstream production.