Elon Musk Paid $1 Million to Own James Bond’s Lotus Esprit Submarine Car From ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

Of all the wealthy celebrities in the news, Elon Musk seems always to be a topic of conversation. With his recent Twitter acquisition and latest SpaceX launch, Musk is not shy about investing his wealth. His name is synonymous with expensive, upscale, and pricey everything, including cars. Even his car company Tesla represents costly tastes, with the likes of the Tesla Model X costing over $100,000 to buy.

However, there’s one car he owns that’s significantly more expensive. He spent $1 million on a movie prop car. The car was from a James Bond movie called The Spy Who Loved Me.

The ‘Wet Nellie’ made for the movies

James Bond's Lotus Esprit Submarine on display, now owned by Elon Musk.
James Bond’s Lotus Esprit Submarine Car | Getty Images

Even if you’re not a James Bond aficionado, you’ll likely remember the Lotus Esprit S1 used during the 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me. During filming, the car earned its nickname and permanent moniker, the Wet Nellie. If the car’s still not ringing any bells, you might recall that it was a one-part sophisticated road machine and a one-part submarine.

HotCars says this iconic Bond mobile is like the holy grail of all bond vehicles. The “car-submarine” design won the hearts of fans globally. The very idea of being able to drive a car into the ocean was revolutionary for its time. And the Wet Nellie affectionately was a hybrid name developed from an autogiro called Little Nellie that made an appearance in another Bond movie; You Only Live Twice.

A couple acquired the submarine car for just $100

Like so many Hollywood props, the Lotus Esprit S1 that had been morphed into a submarine for the James Bond movie seemed to disappear. Then, in 1989 a Long Island couple purchased a locked storage unit for a measly $100. Much to their surprise, buried under a pile of blankets, as AutoBlog explains, was the Wet Nellie.

The couple, unfamiliar with James Bond movies, only thought they had come across some bizarre, “mad scientist’s” car. It wasn’t until they had it strapped to a trailer on the drive home that a trucker over the CB radioed them and informed them of what they had on their hands.

The couple weren’t car collectors and certainly not movie buffs, so they prepped the Wet Nellie for auction. A buyer scooped it up from RM Sotheby’s in 2013 for a cool $997,000, which was pretty lofty considering the car didn’t run and had only served as a movie prop. As CNBC reported, Elon Musk later revealed that he had been the action buyer and was the proud new owner.

Elon Musk says the submarine car inspired the Tesla Cybertruck

Celebrity car collections are impressive to even non-auto enthusiasts. But spending the near $1 million for the one-of-a-kind Lotus Esprit S1, as Avtotachki lists, puts Elon Musk in a whole new category. To him, this was a car to top all cars and, according to Boss Hunting, one he’d been familiar with since childhood.

Musk said he was disappointed to learn the car couldn’t transform, as it once had on-screen and with the push of a button. He had plans to upgrade it with a “Tesla electric powertrain” to make it transform in real life. He’s also since shared that the Wet Nellie was an inspiration for Tesla’s infamous Cybertruck design, including having the capability to handle shallow water with quasi-floating properties.

Elon Musk can pretty much afford to buy whatever he wants. And adding a true gem to his car collection, dropping nearly $1 million for a James Bond prop car is no exception.

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