Somehow, nobody ever seems to talk about the amazing Teslas that our parents were excited about. Why is that? They had some amazing cars, and you can clearly see the design lineage of their current cars in their past offerings. With the Tesla Model 3 about to debut, I was especially excited to find this press pic of a 1973 Tesla Model 312.
I knew when I saw the eBay listing for this rare old Tesla press pic I had to have it. We don’t know what the Model 3 will look like, but if you look at this old picture of Tesla’s first successful mass-market car, you can get a pretty good idea of some key traits it will likely have.
The grille-less front end, the good-sized frunk right behind it, the four-door fastback/liftback design, the clean lines—all the Tesla design trademarks were there, way back in 1973. They were using their ‘skateboard’ chassis concept back then, and with a rear-mounted motor as well.
It’s also amazing to see the old plug-in standard from that era, too – some of you who had ‘70s Teslas may remember that it was the exact same plug as a 220V washer or dryer! Lots of people saved big bucks just getting those from the hardware store instead of the expensive Tesla-branded ones.
I also like how you can see how long Tesla has been experimenting with novel door designs. The Model X’s Falcon doors are cool, but the old 312 has suicide doors in back, which, at the time, was pretty unusual.
This was a fascinating era for Tesla. Clevon Musk (you know, Elon’s dad) was running the company after the founder, Ed Begley, Sr., founded it in 1968 as a tax dodge. Musk took over in 1970, after Begley’s death (incidentally, it was Clevon Musk who first got Begley’s son, Ed Begley Jr., interested in environmental causes) and ran the company until 1990, when his double-dealing with the Soviet government bit him in the ass following the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The company went bankrupt soon after, only to be revived by Elon Musk in 2003, based on plans and designs his father started. At least, that’s how it was told to me.
I’m just excited I was able to snag a piece of early Tesla press material like this. At $450, I think it was a steal, too. This is the same guy that sells me that hard-to-find radiator flushing fluid for my old ‘73 Beetle. You can’t find that stuff anywhere. I still need to figure out where to put it in.