Steve Jurvetson Donates First-Ever Tesla Model S to Museum

Steve j model s

Venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, known for his early investment in Tesla, has donated the first-ever Tesla Model S, along with other historic Tesla vehicles, to the Petersen Museum.

Jurvetson’s Model S, the first off the assembly line, was part of a unique set that included the second Model S, which went to Tesla CEO Elon Musk. These early models featured distinctive elements not found in later Founder Edition cars.

He described the unique features of his Model S, noting a different badge on the back marked ‘P85’ with ‘Phase Current Amplification’ written below it. The car also boasted a carbon-fiber spoiler and a color-matched parcel tray, unlike future versions where these were standardized in black.

The story of how Jurvetson acquired the first Model S dates back to the car’s production announcement. Musk, overwhelmed by reservation requests, had set a policy of not taking any reservations until the car’s price was determined. During a Tesla board meeting in late 2009 or early 2010, Jurvetson noticed the Model S pricing on a document and quickly wrote a check for the full amount, securing the first Model S. He had a blank check in his wallet and beat Musk to ordering the first Model S.

Jurvetson also attempted to secure the first Model X using a similar strategy but ended up with the second off the line, as Musk showed up with a check first, leveraging the same move. Jurvetson did manage to get the fifth Model 3, only because he was out for dinner when orders started.

He used these cars, including his Founder’s Edition Roadster, as his transportation for a time, driving them to shareholder meetings and Tesla Motors Club events. However, he expressed anxiety about using such historically significant vehicles regularly.

Eventually, Jurvetson decided to find a safer home for these cars, leading to his proactive outreach to the Petersen Museum. “I think highly of its reputation, and it’s the obvious place they should be,” Jurvetson stated. The museum expressed interest in all four cars, making it a perfect match for preserving these pieces of automotive history.