What cars did Elon Musk drive before Tesla?

Musk’s first car was a 1978 BMW 320i that he bought in 1994 for $1,400. It was a fixer upper according to the now Tesla CEO which he drove for two years. One day, he loaned it to a colleague who phoned a short time later to say one of the wheels had literally fallen off the car, leaving a deep gouge in the pavement. Musk junked the car.

The next car would be a 1967 Series I Jaguar XK-E inspired by a book on exotic cars which he received as a present at 17 years of age. The Jaguar caught his eye and he promised himself that one day he would buy one as soon as he could afford to. He and his brother Kimbal Musk had co-founded their first company called Zip2 at the time. When Musk received his first dividend check for $40,000 from the company, sure enough it went straight to buying a Jaguar. And why not? Enzo Ferrari once proclaimed the XX-E the most beautiful production car ever made.

“That one was like a bad girlfriend. It kept breaking down on me and causing me all sorts of trouble”, Musk once said.

Soon after, Elon would be catapulted to Silicon Valley stardom after cashing out of PayPal. What followed would be the purchase of the ultimate tech entrepreneur status symbol, the McLaren F1. “I had it for several years and I put 11,000 miles on it and I drove it from LA to San Francisco. I had it as a daily driver,” Musk said in a interview with Pando Daily.

Elon Musk bought a McLaren F1 in 2000

He would ultimately total the McLaren one day while driving with serial investor Peter Thiel to go chat up Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist with Sequoia Capital. “Peter said ‘so what can this do’ and like probably number one on the list of famous last words I said ‘watch this.’ So I floored it and did a lane change on Sand Hill,” a road in Menlo Park. In a heartbeat, the car went up an embankment, landed on its roof and tore all four wheels off the car. The F1 was a total loss. To make matters worse, the million dollar F1 wasn’t insured.

McLaren F1 after crash

Image credit: YouTube/Beijing Satellite TV via Business Insider

Following the purchases of a BMW M5 in 2007 and a Porsche 911 in 2012, the Tesla CEO would also buy the famous Lotus Esprit S1 used in the movie The Spy Who Loved Me. This would become the inspiration to Tesla’s James Bond easter egg found in the Model S and Model X.

Musk bought the movie prop in 2013 at an auction in London for $886,000. “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,” he told the Huffington Post.

“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,” he says. This would explain Elon’s tweet after a video surfaced showing a Model S driving through a flooded tunnel.

Elon Musk bought a Lotus Esprit S1

Image credit: AP/ Lefteris Pitarakis

However, the car that most directly influenced an actual Tesla automobile is the Audi Q7 SUV that Musk owns in present day. It was the inspiration for the falcon wing doors on the Model X. Musk says he wanted to make a car with doors that could open in tight spaces. He also wanted to be able to access the third row seats without folding the second row seats forward.

“The Audi Q7 is particularly horrendous,” he told Forbes during an interview in 2012. “Even in the best case scenario, you need to be a dwarf mountain climber to get into the back seat.”

Audi Q7

Image credit: Audi

That makes a total of 7 cars Elon Musk has owned and every one of them has been performance oriented. Maybe that’s where the fascination with Teslas that can scoot to 60 mph in under 3 seconds comes from.

Source: Business Insider

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