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As the news of Norman Lear’s passing sinks in, let’s revisit Spinal Tap and the Tesla feature that wouldn’t be without the film.

Famous for its sustain

The front interior of a Tesla Model X is shown
Tesla Model X interior | Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

“This is Spinal Tap,” the 1984 Rob Reiner cult mockumentary, was produced by Norman Lear’s Embassy Films. Lear and his partner spent $25 million to acquire Embassy just two years before Rob Reiner’s band-tour-movie pitch. Everyone in the industry passed on Reiner’s idea except Lear. Fast-forward four decades, and Spinal Tap remains a must-see rock comedy with some of the most recognizable movie quips and isms; one of which lives on in Teslas.

“These go to eleven”

Back in 2015, an amusing narrative of a Tesla shopping trip arose. Jamie Lee Curtis and Christopher Guest visited a Tesla dealership. USA Today shared that the salesman showed off the car’s interior features and highlighted the volume controls. They actually went to eleven. The salesman explained Musk’s intentional design was based on the hilarious scene from Spinal Tap you can watch above. The couple was charmed and ultimately bought one.

Musk confirmed the reference in a 2020 tweet. Of course, the comment threads were noisy with everything other than acknowledgment of the film’s line. Requests for increased safety features, information about winter tire availability, and a link to a site dedicated to Musk’s lack of accountability are all high up. Humor hides all holes, no?

Read more amusing automotive tidbits in our Tips, Tricks, & Trends section.