Worth USD 164 billion as per Bloomberg Billionaires Index (as of 14 December 2022), Elon Musk is the world’s, second-richest man. He also held the top spot for a while.
One of the most famous tech billionaires in the world, many consider Musk a modern-day genius. He is the founder, CEO and Chief Engineer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., popularly known as SpaceX. Along with bringing a change in space exploration, the American aerospace company is also revolutionising satellite internet connectivity with its Starlink project.
Musk is also the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, the electric car maker that is credited for changing the landscape of the electric car market in the last decade. Musk is also the founder of the American construction company, The Boring Company, and co-founder of OpenAI and Neuralink.
On 27 October 2022, Musk bought social media giant Twitter — a platform where he has been highly vocal. On 14 December, over a month after the purchase and the subsequent controversy around its operations, Musk slipped to the second place in Bloomberg Billionaires Index of the world’s richest persons.
Yet adding to his already impressive portfolio of companies is his charismatic image, which would make him seem like a real-life Tony Stark. And like Stark, does Musk own helluva costly cars and aircraft? Yes, he doesn’t disappoint.
The billionaire has collected and let go of some of the finest machines ever made; of which Tesla cars, such as Model S and Model X, are obvious inclusions. In 2019, he was seen driving around Los Angeles, US, in a Tesla Cybertruck prototype. His Audi Q7, which he called “particularly horrendous”, inspired him to make the falcon wing doors of the Tesla Model S. Besides cars, he also owns two private jets.
Let’s have a look at some unique and expensive things Elon Musk owns.
In a tweet on 10 June, 2018, Musk recalled how he bought the McLaren F1 after selling his first company, Zip2, to Compaq.
“19 years ago, when my 1st company got bought, I had to decide between buying a house in Palo Alto or a McLaren F1 (best car ever imo). Was no contest. I bought F1 & a small condo that was much cheaper than the car,” Musk tweeted.
19 years ago, when my 1st company got bought, I had to decide between buying a house in Palo Alto or a McLaren F1 (best car ever imo). Was no contest. I bought F1 & a small condo that was much cheaper than the car. New Tesla Roadster will exceed all gas sports cars in every way…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 9, 2018
After he bought the car, the then rising star of Silicon Valley showed it to a CNN TV crew who had come to interview him.
However, the silver-colour machine became history when Musk took PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel for a ride in 2000. Musk crashed the car on Sand Hill Road in California’s Menlo Park, US. Though both passengers were unhurt, the car was seriously damaged.
Later, Musk got the McLaren F1 repaired and sold it off in 2007.
“The McLaren is a great car. It’s a work of art, a really beautiful piece of engineering, but I didn’t want people always writing that I have a high-performance gasoline sports car, so I decided to sell it. I made a profit on it, even though I crashed it,” Musk told Wheels Magazine in 2013.
At the time when Musk bought the car, a McLaren F1 would cost around USD 1 million.
Only 106 cars were ever manufactured. No longer in production today, the car continues to command a hallowed position in the classic car market to this date. In 2020, a McLaren F1 auctioned at Pebble Beach in California went out for USD 20.5 million — more than USD 5 million of its estimated price.
Car lovers and critics universally consider McLaren F1 to be one of the best cars ever made, with some even hailing it as the greatest supercar in history.
To date, it is the fastest naturally aspirated road car ever built with a top speed of just around 386 km/h and acceleration of 0-97 km/h in just 3.2 seconds. The car is fitted with a 6.1-litre, V12 BMW powerplant, which delivers over 620bhp in output. Its engine is lined with gold and the throttle pedal has platinum.
The three-seater has a central driving position and each cabin was customised as per its owner’s preferences.
The Roadster is touted as an iconic car from Tesla stables for two reasons — it was the first car launched by Tesla and it is the first production car launched into space. The Roadster is the first to orbit the sun and currently drifting away from Mars into the vast unknown.
The Roadster was unveiled by Tesla in 2008. It could travel around 394 km on a single charge. Depending on the variant, the Tesla Roadster could go from 0 to 97 km/h between 3.7 seconds and 4.6 seconds. It could reach a top speed of just over 200 km/h.
Musk got his hands on a Roadster which he drove quite frequently.
On 2 December 2017, the eccentric genius announced that he will send his personal Roadster to space.
“Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent,” he tweeted.
Payload will be my midnight cherry Tesla Roadster playing Space Oddity. Destination is Mars orbit. Will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2017
On 6 February, 2018, the Roadster was launched into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. A dummy astronaut, named ‘Starman’, was placed in the driver’s seat. (You can follow Starman and the Roadster’s journey here on this unofficial site.)
Musk’s car is dubbed the first-generation Roadster. Tesla will now launch the second-generation Roadster. According to the company, the all-electric “supercar” can attain a top speed of 402 km/h, an acceleration of 0-97 km/h in 1.9 seconds and a range of 997 km.
Jaguar Series 1 E-type
Elon Musk calls the 1967 Jaguar Series 1 E-type Roadster his “first love”. In fact, he admitted this in a 2017 tweet, mentioning that it was one of the two gasoline (petrol) cars he owned.
I own two gasoline cars. One is a Model T that a friend gave me and the other is a Series 1 ’67 E-type Roadster. My first love.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 12, 2017
Five years ago, in an interview with Hannah Elliott of Forbes, Musk had said that he decided to buy an E-type when he was around 17. He had made up his mind after reading a book on classic convertibles.
“The one I liked the best was the E-Type and I said, ‘Well, if I can ever afford it, that is the car I am going to get.’ And so that’s why I bought it,” he said during the ride in a Tesla Roadster.
When he received USD 40,000 for his company Zip2, Musk spent USD 35,000 on buying an old Jaguar Series 1 1967 E-type Roadster. However, the car turned out to be so unreliable that Musk said that it “broke down on the way back from the dealer.”
Despite its problems, Musk didn’t discard the machine.
The Jaguar E-type was described by the legendary Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made”. Hailed as a timeless product because of its design, it was one of the most popular four-wheelers of the 1960s.
The 1960s car, powered with a 3.8-litre six-cylinder XK engine, delivered 265bhp and a top speed of over 240 km/h. Under its Reborn programme, Jaguar reintroduced the car in limited-edition coupé and roadster types with original specifications merged with modern technology.
Hamann BMW M5
As mentioned earlier, Musk has a car collection that car enthusiasts and lover dream of. The Hamann BMW M5 is one of those that needs a special mention.
The M5 is an upgrade and modified version of the BMW 5-series sedan.
Tuned by German car tuning company Hamann Motorsport, its engine is a twin-turbo V8. Hamann turned the otherwise family car into a powerful machine on four wheels, taking it to 650hp from its standard 560hp.
This helped the car reach upwards of 300 km/h on the odometer to its top speed and can attain 0-97 km/h in around 4.2 seconds.
Musk bought the car in 2007, but it’s unclear if Musk still owns the powerful machine. It is widely believed that the M5 inspired the Ludicrous mode in Tesla S, which gives a boost to the acceleration and speed.
The BMW brand seems to have a special place in Musk’s collection of cars he has had or continues to possess. His first car was a BMW 320i — a second-hand vehicle, which cost him USD 1,400 in 1994; and he fixed it up himself. However, while speaking to Elliott in the same Forbes’ interview, Musk said that one of his interns at Zip2 took it for a spin and reported back saying one of the wheels of the car fell off.
Ford Model T
The other gasoline car that Musk mentioned in his 2017 tweet is a vintage 1920 Ford Model T. The legendary car was gifted to him by a friend. However, he is seldom seen driving it in public, unlike the Roadster he owns.
The Ford Model T sits in the topmost league of the most iconic cars in history. It was one of the first mass-production cars meant for the public. Designed by Henry Ford and launched in 1908, the car was priced at an affordable range between USD 260 and USD 850.
Its tremendous popularity led to a surge in Ford cars in the market and acquired over 50 percent of the registered auto market by the early 1920s. However, the production of Model T came to an end in 1927 after over 15 million of them had been produced and sold.
Over the years, it came to be known by many nicknames — the most famous of which was “Tin Lizzie”.
Lotus Esprit submarine car
One of the most iconic movie cars of all time, the Lotus Esprit submarine car, popularly known as “Wet Nellie”, was featured in the Bond classic The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
However, like many other movie props, it was forgotten and kept in a storage unit in Long Island, US, for years. In 1989, the car came in possession of a New York couple who bought the entire unit for USD 100 at a blind auction.
Musk got his hands on the unique car at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2013 for around USD 1 million.
“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. 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,” Musk told Jalopnik in a statement at the time.
But RM Sotheby’s notes that the car could do the exact opposite — it could perform like a submarine but not like a car.
“Contrary to what movie magic suggests, there is no semblance of a road car interior in this Lotus; instead, inside one will find its underwater motors, batteries, levers, and other control apparatus, with only a platform seat for its driver,” notes RM Sotheby’s.
According to the auction house, the car is believed to have cost over USD 100,000 to build.
The Lotus Esprit, a kind of which was modified into the Bond car, was originally produced by Lotus in 1976. Its design was based on a concept unveiled by Italian automobile design legend Giorgetto Giugiaro at the Turin Motor Show in 1972.
Even though Musk may not have been able to test its speed on the road or check it out underwater, he revealed that it has been instrumental in the designing of one of Tesla’s most recent creations — the Cybertruck.
Musk bought a 2015 model of Gulfstream G650ER, the news of which came to light in 2018. The aircraft is hailed as a masterpiece among luxury jets. It has a maximum range of 13,890 km and can fly at a very high speed of Mach 0.90. It has two Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, and its avionics are among the most advanced in the world.
The interiors of the aircraft boast handcrafted seats that ensure utmost comfort and can be converted into divans.
The cabins can be customised to create 3-4 living areas to seat up to 19 passengers.
Among all business aviation jets, the G650ER holds the record for the farthest and fastest flight — a feat it achieved in 2019.
Musk is known to fly the aircraft to his business meetings and personal vacations. The Washington Post reported that Musk’s jet flew around 241,400 km in 2018. However, it is not clear whether Musk was on board each time the aircraft flew.
Aviation enthusiasts know the jet by its registration code N628TS. There is even a Twitter handle, @ElonJet, with over 70k followers, that tracks the aircraft’s flight information in real-time.
In 2020, Protocol reported that Musk bought a 2008 Gulfstream G550 for around USD 14.3 million.
The Gulfstream G550 has a range of 12,501 km and a maximum speed of Mach 0.88. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 41,277 kg. Fitted with two Rolls-Royce BR710 engines, the aircraft has Gulfstream PlaneView avionics, which has an integrated glass flight deck among other facilities for pilots.
Up to 19 passengers can be seated in four customisable living areas. Like other Gulfstream business jets, the G550, too, ensures that passengers can fly luxuriously in its plush interiors and comfy seats.
The G550 is also used by several militaries around the world, including those of the US and Turkey.
Bel Air homes
Elon Musk owned six Bel Air houses in the posh Los Angeles location at the start of 2020 but sold them off by the end of the year. The decision to sell his homes was announced by Musk on 1 May, 2020.
I am selling almost all physical possessions. Will own no house.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
When asked by a Twitter user if the purpose of the sale was for money, Musk said, “Don’t need the cash. Devoting myself to Mars and Earth. Possession just weighs you down.”
Don’t need the cash. Devoting myself to Mars and Earth. Possession just weigh you down.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
The largest of the houses was sold to Chinese billionaire William Ding in June for USD 29 million.
In October, he sold the second house to an LLC connected to the wife of the nephew of American actor Gene Wilder for USD 7 million. Interestingly, the house once belonged to the Hollywood legend. Musk had bought the property in 2013 for only USD 250,000 less than the amount he got on selling it.
Just one stipulation on sale: I own Gene Wilder’s old house. It cannot be torn down or lose any its soul.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 1, 2020
The remaining four were sold off in a single deal for close to USD 62 million to builder Ardie Tavangarian. All four properties have different architectural styles, ranging from neoclassical Colonial to ultra-contemporary.
All four were acquired by Musk in individual deals between 2015 and 2019.
The sale of the properties left Musk with no home in Los Angeles. However, he still owns the 19-hectare estate in Hillsborough town in California’s Silicon Valley region. The property was bought by him in 2017 for USD 23.4 million.
X.com is the domain name of the financial services company that Musk co-founded in 1999. The bank soon became part of Confinity, a software company co-founded by Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. This merged entity was later renamed PayPal, which became part of eBay in 2002 and remained so till it became independent in 2015.
The domain name, X.com, was held by PayPal. Musk bought it from the company in 2017 and tweeted that “it has great sentimental value.”
Thanks PayPal for allowing me to buy back https://t.co/bOUOejO16Y! No plans right now, but it has great sentimental value to me.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2017
X.com is unique because it is a single alphabet domain name, and it is rarest of rare to own one today. This means that prices of single alphabet domain names are high.
It is not clear, however, how much Musk paid to PayPal to re-acquire the domain. Although reports suggest that it could be in millions, given the rarity of such a domain name.
According to Whois, the website which keeps a record of domain names registrations, X.com was registered on 2 April 1993. The site says that its registration is private.
Hero image: Courtesy McLaren; Featured image: Pedersen/POOL/AFP