Cars & Stars

Elon Musk. A piston for a heart

Photo credit: Tesla, McLaren, Wheelsage, RM Sotheby’s

Who could imagine that the world’s greatest champion of the electric car hides in his heart’s garage a secret passion for gasoline? We are talking about Elon Musk, the genius from South Africa born in 1971 who has pursued his dream of progress by correctly guessing the importance of the internet and digital. Consider that he created his first software program, game called Blastar, at just 12 years old and then Zip2, the online city guide development company later sold to Compaq for more than $300 million. Then his trump card: he created PayPal, the online payment system sold to eBay for US$1.5 billion in 2002 and following that, just to raise the bar out of the stratosphere, he set up SpaceX, the space program designed for transport and space tourism. But his consecration came with Tesla and the abolition of the internal combustion engine. 

But what cars does Elon Musk hide in his heart that he has driven over the course of his life? Let’s take a look… 

BMW 320i

His first car, a 1978 BMW 320i, was purchased by Musk in 1994 when he was 23 years old, for $1,400. The price should be an indicator of the overall condition of this Bavarian sedan that he fixed up himself as shown by our cover image which shows him replacing the passenger door glass. 

Jaguar E-Type

Musk’s passion for the car that Enzo Ferrari described as the “most beautiful ever made” came about when he was 17 years old and received a book about convertible cars. The Jaguar E-Type is his favourite and he promised himself that if he could ever afford one, he would buy one. And that’s exactly what happened with his first $40,000 bonus from Zip2 which he used to buy a 1967 example.

Ford Model T

According to an interview Elon Musk gave with CNBC, a friend gave him a Ford Model T car, the first series-built automobile, which was also elected Car of the Century in 1999. The message was implicit: will a Tesla be elected this century? And everyone knows you can’t plan for the future if you don’t know the past…

McLaren F1

In 1999, after selling PayPal to eBay, the new millionaire Elon Musk decided to buy one of the most iconic sports cars of all time: the McLaren F1. After driving 11,000 miles in just over a year, and that says volumes about just how much he liked it, while driving on Sand Hill Road in Palo Alto, he had a pretty serious accident that seriously damaged it. In 2007, after repairing it out of his own pocket – the F1 wasn’t eligible for fully comprehensive insurance – he sold it. Surely with regret, but how could the world’s leading promoter of zero-emission mobility possibly live with one of those? Smart move, no doubt about it.

Tesla Roadster

The Roadster was Tesla’s first car in 2007. Clearly inspired by small British convertibles, it was made with the clear intention of making driving exciting even if it was electric powered. In February 2018, Elon Musk’s personal example (at least that’s what we’re told) was launched into space in the direction of Mars, taking advantage of the test launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket for a joint marketing operation. It is now orbiting the Red Planet. Who says that ambition has limits? 

Audi Q7

What was Elon Musk doing in 2012 driving an Audi Q7? He was probably intent on studying a more comfortable access system to the rear seats. In an interview for Forbes, he declared that his experience with the SUV from Ingolstadt inspired the gull-wing door opening mechanism on the Tesla Model X. But is the Audi so uncomfortable?

Lotus Esprit

Believe it or not, the owner of the “amphibian” Lotus Esprit used by James Bond in the movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” is Elon Musk. Bought at the RM auction in London in 2013 for roughly $920,000 it turned out to be a disappointment as it cannot actually transform into a submarine. The South African entrepreneur’s intent is to replace the engine with a Tesla electric unit and actually make it capable of going underwater. After Mars that is… 

Tesla Cyber Truck

In December 2019, just a few days after its official presentation, Elon Musk was seen driving Tesla’s brand-new Cyber Truck. Easy to believe: it was a test to see if the new vehicle with revolutionary lines was more of a sensation than the car he still holds dear in his heart: the McLaren F1.