Tesla : Preamble in tunnel vision
The rosy fingers of a Saturday dawn are welcomed, late September, 2008, after the six mile drive and 2500 foot climb up the winding road of Rancho Carrillo. Named for Leo Carrillo, the Cisco Kid’s mischievious sidekick, Pancho, the ranch is an idyllic mountaintop respite from the urban torture of Orange County.
The event, a popular cars & coffee excuse for the sybaritic motor culture in southern California, attracts a hundred vehicles of every ilk; none of which are routine, pedestrian, nor inexpensive. The morning feature is a prototype electric sports car, the Tesla, rather sexy looking, attached to a 220 volt charging station that resembles the yacht cable on a marina pier or the type for a monster motorhome. Three members of the Tesla team explain the virtue of electric cars, a century-old concept, now invigorated with advanced technology. Below, antiquated technology.
The infectious enthusiasm of one, Elon Musk, a 37 y/o South African with the clipped accent of Ernie Els, is intoxicating. Apparently now, my 190SL companions tell me, a billionaire from the sale of his popular credit card scheme, PayPal®, an unlikely visionary sipping on dark roasted Starbucks® morning blend. Referencing a possible IPO for the company in a year or two, he is impressive, yet I see only the failed ghosts of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean, Edsel Ford, and Malcolm Bricklin.
By 9:30 AM, a local horse show commences, a gorgeous array from 4 years old to 40 years old, and the horses aren’t bad looking either. We begin the invigorating downhill run, top down, on the legendary “zoom-zoom” road made famous in Mazda Miata commercials. I’m smug, smiling, contemplating how laughable and foolish a stock offering would be for an unproved, limited production, six figure sports car. Even as a dedicated gearhead, I could not, would not, embrace the fantasy.
On June 29, 2010, the stock, symbol TSLA, opened at $19.00/share.
On Friday, August 16, 2013, it closed at $142.00/ share.
The horses weren’t the only ones with blinders on that California hilltop.