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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Tesla's towering electric oak tree grew from this little-known acorn | Hagerty Media

In his wildest fantasies, did Elon Musk ever envision that Tesla-in under two decades-would grow from a wobbly startup into the world's most valuable car company? Or that his role as the auto industry's grand disrupter would make him, as of this writing, the second-wealthiest individual on earth?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/teslas-towering-electric-oak-tree-grew-from-this-li...
31 REPLIES 31
Bill
Detailer

Guys who have this kind of drive and ambition are amazing, another name, Roger Penske.
Flashman
Instructor

"...complemented the effort"?
TristramBuckley
Pit Crew

Did the author of this piece not realize what was being said by Piontek? Musk was not the creator nor the driving force behind the original Tesla car company! He muscles the true creators out of the company! I met the original creators years ago when they initially displayed the Roadster. Musk takes credit for creating Tesla. HE DID NOT! Give me a billion dollars or so from Paypal and I took can invest in companies that will obviously take off. That's why Piontek stated he did not want a Tesla but if Musk gave him one for free it would be a nice THANK YOU! Because Musk and Tesla are where they are today thanks to Piontek and his original partners. "Asked if he’d be interested in purchasing a new Tesla Roadster, Piontek replied, “Probably not. Its range and carrying capacity don’t fit my current Michigan-to-Florida migratory lifestyle. But if Elon Musk offered me a Model S as a thank-you gesture, I’d happily accept that.”
Solosolo
Intermediate Driver

And without Musk' money there would still be only 6 Sportechs produced as against the hundreds of thousands of Teslas being manufactured.
TG
Instructor

It seems what you usually need is the energetic pioneer to start the fire and the person with the cash and business sense to fan the flames. There is no muscle car without Delorean and GM. Take one out of the formula - disaster.
TristramBuckley
Pit Crew

Not true.  The original guys behind Tesla were smart and they would have secured financing/investment from other sources.  Just look at how much Rimach has obtained with the explosion of investor interest in electrification.

limoguy
Intermediate Driver

That overstates the case, I think.
uweschmidt
Detailer

Just like the Wright Brothers took their just Place in history by documenting their first flight( there is some vague evidence to the contrary ) s Elon Musk will take his deserved Place in History simply because he did what he had to Do!!!! and I dont even Lke Cars that dont make Neat Noises
jello67
Pit Crew

And here I just thought Elon Musk took the Lotus Elise, elongated it, fit it with electric motors and a battery, and sold that....Oh, he did, and they talk about that. The Piontek Sportek looks like it has a 1991 lotus Elan windshield too - although I can't be certain of that. I have a 1991 Lotus Elan, and its windshield looks similar. Obviously I'm a Lotus fan. I don't think they make the best or the fastest cars, but they have been an influence in automotive design since the 1950's. And now for a mere 1 or 2 million US dollars you can order an all electric Evija - crazy.
Sportech
New Driver

The windshield is original and optically correct (no waves)!
eighthtry
Intermediate Driver

I would not own an electric car. I will just enjoy the last of the dinosaur busters. My Z07 is the latest.

That being said, one cannot criticize a man with the vision to build a car company like Tesla. The electric car was invented around the turn of the 20th century. The vision, energy, smarts, and cahones to put it all together and make it work is amazing. The US, indeed the world, is littered with defunct companies that could not make the automobile work. To be able to do it in today's highly complex electronic environment that the automotive industry contends is astounding to me. He pushed, and finally drug it over the finish line. From a technical perspective was he the one that did the work? Of course not. But was he he guy that put together the 100+ year old idea into an unbelievalbly complex business that made it work on a large scale? Yep.

For what it is worth, I have lost hundreds of millions of dollars by not investing in Tesla. I could not believe that he could put together something without a dealer network. I could not believe that he could ever manufacture a car from a raw piece of land with no automotive experience. I could not believe that he could understand and make work the complex electronics in the car world today. I just could not believe. But I believe now. I just can't get over the hefty valuation of the stock to entice me to buy some.

The man, with his many ventures that work, ones that he did not invent, has proven me wrong.

You can't blame him for not doing the "work". Does he have an ego? Yep. But think about it. Without Al Gore we would not have the internet. It takes a man of vision and energy, mixed with a little carnival barker.

The automotive world today is scrambling. Their collective brains are fried. They will not only catch up, but will far surpass what Mr Musk put together. But he did it first. I think that is a fitting legacy and worthy of respect.
Tinkerah
Technician

Musk would deserve our respect and encouragement if the ONLY thing he did was sell new cars without a dealer network.
NightRanger
Intermediate Driver

Not sure why people still think there is no Tesla dealerships?? There's one here in Calgary on Fairmount Drive.
TristramBuckley
Pit Crew

Yes, at the end of the day, the Tesla Roadster was absolutely nothing new component wise as it used an AC motor, batteries that could be bought over the counter at e.g., Texas instruments, a chassis from Lotus and a body from another European vendor.  REALTY?  Electric cars were all but certain in the near future.  Do we really believe Bentley, Porsche, and every manufacturer is going electric because of Tesla?  No!  They are doing so due to laws with ever tightening emissions standards.  Tesla is the most over valued company on the planet and when all the other manufacturers start offering electric cars I would not be surprised to see Tesla go under.  Porsche states by 2025...less than four years, half of all its cars will have electrification.  The UK bans the sale of petroleum powered cars by 2030 and Bentley, Jaguar, etc., have stated they will be fully electric by then.   Dump your stock while you can!  Tesla was not a "disruptor" but merely a precusor to that which was made inevitable by a planet with an exploding car driving population and concerns over climate change.  Give Musk credit for being a showman who made a Sxxt load of money selling a product that was simply inevitable. 

Tinkerah
Technician

I won't dispute your points but Musk is the face of, and played a significant role at the company that demonstrated mass produced EVs can be practical AND exciting. That combination was a breakthrough at the time.
DAY
Intermediate Driver

The power grid will never handle charging electric cars. They all but outlawed incandescent light bulbs because ''they use too much electricity and overload the power grid''! BUT NOW THINK THEY CAN CHARGE ELECTRIC CARS ON THAT SAME GRID? Unless they come up with some new battery, we don't even have enough lithium and other materials to make enough batteries for all the cars and all the storage they want to do for use at night after they destroy the carbon based power industry. AND, CHARGING YOUR ELECTRIC CAR WILL BE DONE AT NIGHT, FROM WHAT? NO MORE SOLAR OR WIND AT NIGHT! How long will people keep falling for this scam? They will have to depopulate the planet to make a green solar and wind powered system work. Wake up people!
Billthecat707
Detailer

Really, I didn't know they turned off the wind at sundown.
Tinkerah
Technician

The system wouldn't let me "like" your post so I'll just say "ditto".

Geok86
Advanced Driver

Tesla is nothing but a Ponzi scheme...and its days are numbered...don’t wait too much longer to cash in your stocks...lest ye be stuck holding the bag.
Chachi
New Driver

I love the USA! So many great stories like these. Freedom rocks!
NightRanger
Intermediate Driver

Why do you think that only the USA has "freedom" ??
MattK
Detailer

Read carefully now. "I love the USA! So many great stories like these. Freedom rocks!" Where does he (Chachi) say that only the USA has freedom.??
mwmyers91
Detailer

Electricity must do stange things to relationships. This story should begin with Edison swipeing Tesla's ideas at the turn of the century and now the Tesla electric car using others work. Good thing they say imitation is the most sin-sere form of flattery.
jaysalserVW
Detailer

All that I can think of when I think "Tesla" is dependence upon foreign sources which are massively polluting the Environment while we tax the US Citizens not to Pollute. When will it end? When foreign sources hold us hostage for all of that "strange ore" which Elon so desperately needs--and cheap labor and BIG Subsidies. How can I thank Mr. Musk enough for forced taxation to fund "his vision"!
Greg-Miller
New Driver

Thank you for posting this! I am the Car Designer that created the exterior with Dave Piontek. I thought this car was long forgotten. Quite a surprise to see it has a connection to Elan Musk and Tesla. I am still designing cars at Ford and recently got featured in a B&O/ Mach-E video. We are very excited about the new Mach-E and hope it will steal away Tesla customers.
ELDee
Pit Crew

Very impressive Greg-Miller ! Hope to see many more of your designs at Ford in the future!! LD71 😄
carguyjim
Detailer

My neighbor's son always has a hot ride... I loved the sound of his MBZ 12 cylinder biturbo..
Then he shows up with a Tesla . He takes off like a flash and all you hear is the tires breaking traction. I realized a great analegy at that moment : That NO MATTER how fast, an electric car is like sex WITHOUT sounds.... The lack of that sensory fulfillment is intolerable and unsatisfying...
sethcarguy
New Driver

I saw one of the TZeros at an Autocross in Northern California, many years ago. All-electrics were rare. When asked about taking any trips, the driver (owner?) said they had a small trailer that hooked up behind with a gas-powered generator. It plugged into the car as a range extender for trips. Cool idea, why carry all that around town? I'm sure none of it met any safety standards, but it was a cool car.
farna
Detailer

Everyone builds off someone else most of the time. As someone stated, take one person out of the chain of ideas and the end product doesn't exist. Piontek sold rights to his design to ACP. ACP had no desire to mass produce electric cars. The founders of Tesla wanted to and had expertise, but not the money. You have to have the chain! I don't know if Tesla pushed anyone out of the company, but it's obvious he's become the face and leader of the company now, and I assume holds the largest amount of shares. GM is a great example -- Durant built it, got pushed out later. Nash motors came into being because Charles Nash, who Durant had a lot of faith in and continually promoted, didn't want to work for Durant managed to come back to GM -- he left as president of Buick and formed Nash Motors in 1916 or 17. There's a long line of building off others, sometimes taking credit from them. Edison is a notorious example -- most of what "he" invented was from his workshop, but he had little to do with other than providing a place and pay for bright people to work. The press has a lot to do with giving Musk most of the credit, I think. He's the big figure in the company due to his wealth, and attracts attention.
Lotus49
Pit Crew

Anyone else here notice that the original Sportech looks a LOT like a miniature version of the Corvette Indy concept from the late '80s? The fellow who posted below as co-designer of the exterior might be able to confirm the inspiration?
ChevyDave
Intermediate Driver

I still have the Road and Track and Kit Car magazine articles from the early ‘90’s about the Sportech (it started my fascination with cycle-powered cars) as well as its transition to tZero guise. The tZero’s range-extending trailer had a unique dual-point hitch designed to minimize the trailer’s effect on handling and I want to say the “generator” was actually a small Kawasaki motorcycle engine.
Regarding Musk’s role at Tesla, there’s no doubt he’s done great things, just as there’s no doubt he forced-out true Co-founder Eberhard (Tesla agreed to an out of court settlement after Eberhard sued in 2009).
None of that changes what Tesla has become or who Elon Musk is as a person apparently.