- Hammer and ball
- Exploded Model Y
- 2009 Model S prototype
- Lotus Elise Mule 1
- Crashed Model Y
- Model X Astronaut Shuttle
- Starman in a reasonably fast car
- 2021 Tesla Bot prototype
NEW Tesla exhibition LA
The original Lotus Elise based Roadster (remember that?) entered production in 2008, and 14 years later a Californian start up called Tesla has changed the world. You may not agree with all Mr Musk’s ways and means, but his company put electric cars on the map. Time to celebrate Tesla’s indelible impact and rocket-boosted ascendency, said the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, with a spectacular new exhibition dedicated to the story so far. We managed to blag our way in a day before the doors opened to the public – here’s what there is to see.
The original 2019 prototype, you can’t miss it. It’s massive, shiny and could slice your hand off if you lean on it in the wrong place. Stainless steel ‘exoskeleton’ panels add rigidity to the frame, look suitably cyberpunk but are a complete pain to make as they can only be press bent in one direction – a possible explanation of why it’s so delayed. Elon claims it’ll be in production by late 2023, we wish him all the best with that.
Will this make the Cybertruck options list? We hope so. Cyberquad was revealed at the same time as the Cybertruck, mimics its industrial kitchen aesthetic and if you drop the Cybertruck’s self-levelling suspension and tailgate at the rear, it can be driven directly into the bed and charged up off the truck’s battery.
Hammer and ball
At the Cybertruck’s unveil in Nov 2019, you may remember the joyous moment when design lead Franz von Holzhausen threw a metal ball at the ‘armoured glass’ windows… which smashed. Cue red faces and a scrambling Musk claiming that when the glass was hit with a sledgehammer earlier it must have weakened the glass. Yeah, sledgehammers tend to do that.
Exploded Model Y
Insert joke about the Model Y SUV exploding onto the scene here… or perhaps a quip about those panel gaps being better than your average Tesla. Either way, mesmerising to behold.
2009 Model S prototype
The Model S was announced in 2008, this prototype was shown in March 2009 and it eventually made its debut in June 2012. The differences are stark: on the inside the shrouded screen and tighter rear passenger space, and on the exterior the significantly sexier bodywork – definitely more Maserati than the Model S we know now.
Lotus Elise Mule 1
Tesla’s first functional prototype combined a powertrain from AC propulsion with a custom battery designed by JB Staubel and his small team. Was key for showcasing the tech to investors throughout its development.
Tesla Roadster #1
The first production Roadster of 2,500 that were built. It belonged to Musk and was used as his daily driver for a number of years. This carbon-fibre bodied sports car, produced between 2008 and 2012, was the first road car to use lithium-ion batteries and proved that EVs could be shockingly fast, and good fun, paving the way for the Model S…
Crashed Model Y
Poor Model Y, first exploded now squished beyond all recognition. No, not the handy work of an angry museum patron, a demo of how when you don’t have an engine under the bonnet you benefit from larger and more efficient crumple zones. Double-glazed glass roof also stiffer than a traditional sheet metal roof, apparently, and can take five times the car’s weight before deforming – handy if you land belly side up.
2017 Tesla Roadster
Will the Roadster ever make production? Who knows, but here’s the 2017 prototype to remind us all it still exists. A quick recap on the production claims for this thing: removeable glass roof and 2+2 seating, over 250bhp, a tri-motor powertrain like Model S Plaid, a 200kWh battery and 600 miles range and a SpaceX pack that throws in cold-air rocket thrusters for a 0-62mph time of 1.1 seconds. Tesla will happily relieve you of a £38k deposit for one today, but can’t tell you when it’ll arrive.
How do you raise a quick $10m for your fledgling tunnelling enterprise, The Boring Company? If you’re Elon Musk you build 20,000 flame-throwers (well technically not a flame thrower as it uses propane to create the flame, rather than liquid fuel) and sell them for $500 a pop. Perfect for lightning the BBQ.
Model X Astronaut Shuttle
The shuttle used to transport Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken nine miles from the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout building to the launch pad, when SpaceX became the first private company to send NASA astronauts into orbit. Cool, but not as cool as the original Astrovan used by Nasa between 1983 and 2011.
“Celebrate summer with Tesla Short Shorts. Run like the wind or entertain like Liberace with our red satin and gold trim design. Relax poolside or lounge indoors year-round with our limited-edition Tesla Short Shorts, featuring our signature Tesla logo in front with “S3XY” across the back. Enjoy exceptional comfort from the closing bell,” read the description on Tesla’s website in summer 2020, moments before it crashed due to volume of traffic. Not just something comfortable to slip into then, a well-aimed dig at traders trying to short Tesla stock.
Starman in a reasonably fast car
A replica of Musk’s own 2010 Roadster that he launched into space aboard a Falcon Heavy rocket test flight in 2018. Starman mannequin was joined by a copy of The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy in the glovebox, and David Bowie’s Space Oddity playing on loop through the sounds system. Astronomers suggest it could remain in orbit around the sun for millions of years.
2021 Tesla Bot prototype
A humanoid robot designed to perform basic tasks that are “repetitive, boring and dangerous for humans”. Interpret that as you will. As well as being mildly terrifying the Tesla Bot is five foot eight inches tall, weighs 72kg and can travel at a maximum of 5mph “making it easy to outrun or overpower”, said Elon in his presentation at Tesla’s AI day in August 2021. That’s it, we’re all screwed.
Keyword: Think you know Tesla? Join us for a tour of an incredible new exhibition in LA