Man pays £78 for shipping container before selling it to Elon Musk for £600,000

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Elon Musk bought the car for more than £600,000 (Image: Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)
Elon Musk bought the car for more than £600,000 (Image: Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)

In the ultimate case of one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, it has been revealed that an American who bought a storage container without knowing what was inside for £78 ended up selling its contents to Elon Musk for more than £600,000. Back in 1989, the man and his brother decided to open up the mystery box and were stunned to discover a famous item inside. However, they didn’t realise just how valuable it was for a while as they said they saw nothing but a “giant lump covered in blankets”.

Getting in for a closer look they quickly discovered the white sports car inside, which had a dented roof and no wheels, was actually the famous James Bond amphibious car from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. Starring Roger Moore as MI6 agent 007 and Barbara Bach as his Soviet KGB agent Anya Amasova, the film featured an iconic Lotus Esprit that could transform into a submarine and travel underwater. Nicknamed on-set as ‘Wet Nellie’, it was reportedly thought to have cost more than $100,000 (£78,400) to build in the 1970s.

Man pays £78 for shipping container before selling it to Elon Musk for £600,000 eidexiqreiqtrinvBarbara Bach and Roger Moore on the iconic car (Getty Images)

The car gained huge recognition thanks to the scene where it was driven off a mountaintop falling into the ocean below. However, while the bad guys thought all was lost, the car actually retracted its wheels and streamlined through the sea.

It is believed that in addition to the two road cars that were provided by Lotus, they also gave a further six Esprit bodyshells, one of which was sealed and used for the submarine scenes. After discovering the rare find the brothers set about getting it authenticated by none other than Doug Redenius, the co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation.

According to NBC News, he said of the discovery: “They really didn’t know what it was at first. They had no idea how valuable their discovery was." It took more than 24 years after finding the car for the brothers to put it up for auction.

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In 2013, the Guardian reported that Elon Musk entered the London auction anonymously and outbid all the competition, purchasing the submarine car for a cool $997,000 (£616,000). While he initially wanted to stay out of the limelight, the Space X founder later revealed he had purchased the legendary James Bond vehicle.

In a statement, he said: “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.”

Eve Wagstaff

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