Ordinary Couple Turns $100 Storage Unit Bet into $1 Million

The only thing that Americans like more than hoarding or watching TV shows about other people who hoard is shows about looking for treasure in abandoned storage units.

We hoard mountains of stuff. The storage unit industry is worth $38 billion. There are over 50,000 self-storage unit facilities in the United States alone.

In comparison, there are only 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants in the United States and 36,000 globally.

About one out of every four Americans pays an average $90 for a monthly storage unit. More than 2.3 billion square feet of storage space is available for rent and the industry enjoys a 90% occupancy rate.

While storage units are big business for the industry, hoarding things in units and forgetting about them is also part of that business, Letting unit ownership lapse and the contents sold at auction is common.

Once, a couple from Long Island bought a storage unit via blind auction in for $100. Neither the couple nor the auction seller knew what was in the unit.

Included in that $100 auctioned storage unit was a car that was featured in a famous James Bond movie. Within 15 years, the couple sold the car for $1 million to none other than Tesla Motors founder and billionaire Elon Musk.

Bond, James Bond

When the couple opened their storage unit in 1989, they found an old 1976 Lotus Esprit. The sports car was used in the 1977 James Bond film, “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

In that film, the car converted into a mini submarine in several scenes. After filming, the car was left in a storage unit and forgotten by the original owner.

The couple had absolutely no idea what a find they had on their hands. They had never seen the film.

As the couple had the car towed home, local truckers on the road got their attention and alerted them that they owned a James Bond cinematic vehicle.

The couple, who’ve maintained their anonymity, restored the vehicle and in 2013 sold it via Sotheby’s auctioneers to Elon Musk.

Musk says that the car served as partial inspiration for his new electric Cybertruck.