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02nd Feb 2024

Man spends £78 on shipping container – then sells to Elon Musk for over £600,000


He had no idea he had just purchased the 007 submarine car

A contractor who purchased a mystery container for less than $100 (£78), ended up securing a piece of film history.

In 1989, an unidentified Long Island resident took a punt on the container and got quite a surprise when he and his brother pulled back the blankets on the “giant lump” inside to reveal a white, wheelless sports car.

“They really didn’t know what it was at first,” Doug Redenius, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, which authenticated the car, told ABC News.

“They had no idea how valuable their discovery was.”

The pair were now the proud owners of the famous James Bond submarine car from ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.

The 1977 film starred Roger Moore and Barbara Bach and saw the famous spy driving the car during a mountaintop chase before plunging into the ocean. Once submerged, the car’s wheels contracted and it became a streamlined submarine.

The car – described on-set as ‘Wet Nellie’ – was thought to have cost more than $100,000 (£78,400) to build in the 1970s.

Redenius said that the vehicle is “one of the most famous James Bond cars ever” and revealed that there were actually eight Lotus Espirits used during filming. At least two were used to shoot the chase scene, three were used to capture underwater shots, and another was deployed for travelling submarine footage, he explained.

In September 2013, 007’s underwater Lotus Esprit headed to the auction block where it was expected to fetch more than $1 million.

Elon Musk was the eventual winner, purchasing the car in London, the Guardian reported. It is thought to have sold for $997,000 (£616,000).

While he initially purchased the Lotus Espirit anonymously, Musk later put out a statement saying: “It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me drive his Lotus Espirit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater.

“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.”

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