I’m sipping on a double shot cappuccino at the Coffee Bean in Studio City waiting for a buddy to arrive for a Sunday morning canyon ride. It’s early and there’s no one around. Suddenly I spot a metallic light blue Lotus Elise pulling in. Wait a minute, that’s not an Elise, that’s a freaking Tesla! You know, the $100k plus Lotus based electric sportster that’s “gonna change the auto biz” and has been “coming soon” for quite some time now. It’s the first one I’ve seen on the street and I’m actually pretty excited so decide to snap a couple of pics thinking it could make a nice quick Autofiends piece. There are a couple of guys in the car, both playing incognito, Hollywood style, in baseball caps and aviators.
The passenger jumps out to grab some coffee and I walk over and start talking to the driver. I ask if I can take some photos and he tells me to go ahead. I’m chatting away asking questions about the car, trying to figure out why he’s driving it and whether he’s press or maybe a disgruntled investor being thrown a bone—test cars haven’t exactly been offered up that easily, and actual production cars…well! I take a few shots and we keep talking. This guy’s raving about the car, telling me it’s a prototype, how unbelievably quick it is, super friendly and open. Still, I’m thinking to myself who is this guy? Then it drops about three or four minutes in—that’s Matt Damon! Cool! So what does he think?
As well as being super cool and easy going, Matt Damon is a bit of a car guy and a lot of an electric car guy. We agree, “Electric is where it has to go!” He’s super psyched on the Tesla. He explains that this is a prototype with the two speed tranny but it’s only working in the high gear—we’d just covered this issue—I’m impressed. Matt says this prototype isn’t launching so well of the line but tells me, “The 30-60 acceleration is like nothing else.” Like I said he’s digging the car. To be honest it looks pretty sweet–like a softer, friendlier Elise. The cream leather seats and carbon fiber roll bar are nice touches and should take the edge off of spending $50k over the price of a bare aluminum bones Lotus Elise. I also notice there’s a billet toggle switch where you’d normally get the stick shifter.
We keep talking electric, his daily drivers are standard Hollywood Hills Hybrid driveway fillers in Prius and Lexus (SUV) flavors. I tell him he needs to check out the Lexus LS600hL we just tested, which he’s real interested in–asking about its mileage. It’s good (electric) car guy chat.
“So are you gonna get one?” I ask. Matt gives me that sheepish look that we all get when we’re explaining to a significant other why we just can’t live without that red convertible/new sportbike/track car…”Yeah. I think so.”
More on the Tesla here