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Elon Musk: Eclectic automobiles and other things the real-life Tony Stark owns

Worth US$189.9 billion (RM791 billion) as per Forbes (as of 21 September 2021), 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.

Adding to his impressive portfolio 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.

McLaren F1

Elon Musk McLaren F1

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.

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 US$1 million (RM4.18 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 US$20.5 million (RM85.9 million) — more than US$5 million (RM21 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.

Tesla Roadster

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.

 

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.)

Elon Musk Tesla Roadster
The Tesla Roadster of Elon Musk with “Starman” mannequin in the driving seat moving away from Earth. (Image credit: SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Demo Mission/Wikimedia Commons)

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

Jaguar Series 1 E-type
A Jaguar Series 1 E-type limited-edition coupé of the Reborn programme. (Image credit: Jaguar)

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.


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 US$ 40,000 for his company Zip2, Musk spent US$35,000 (RM146,597) 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

Hamann BMW M5
A white BMW M5 with Hamann modifications. (Image credit: Hamann Motorsport)

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 US$1,400 (RM5,863) 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

Ford Model T
A vintage Ford Model T at the Lethbridge Vintage Show in 2005. (Image credit: dave_7/Wikimedia Commons)

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 US$260 (RM1,089) and US$ 850 (RM3,560).

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

Lotus Esprit Wet Nellie
The Lotus Esprit from the movie at an exhibition in 1998. (Image credit: Jörg Behrens/Wikimedia Commons)

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 US$ 100 at a blind auction.

Musk got his hands on the unique car at an RM Sotheby’s auction in 2013 for around US$1 million (RM4.18 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 US$100,000 (RM418,000) 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.

Gulfstream G650ER

Gulfstream G650ER
A Gulfstream G650ER in flight. (Image credit: Gulfstream)

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.

Gulfstream G550

Gulfstream G550 Elon Musk

In 2020, Protocol reported that Musk bought a 2008 Gulfstream G550 for around US$14.3 million (RM60 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.

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.”

The largest of the houses was sold to Chinese billionaire William Ding in June for US$ 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 US$7 million (RM29 million). Interestingly, the house once belonged to the Hollywood legend. Musk had bought the property in 2013 for only US$250,000 (RM1.05 million) less than the amount he got on selling it.

The remaining four were sold off in a single deal for close to US$62 million (RM260 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 US$23.4 million (RM98 million).

X.com

PayPal Elon Musk
The logo of online payment company PayPal is pictured during LeWeb 2013 event in Saint-Denis near Paris on 10 December 2013.(Image credit: Eric Piermont/AFP)

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.”

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