My evening with Elon MuskI confess: I completely missed the Tesla Roadster parked outside when I walked into Joey & Eddie's, the San Francisco watering hole where Valleywag used to hold weekly meetups with readers. But there was no mistaking the guy parked at the bar: It was Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors. He had driven up to surprise me at the behest of Adeo Ressi, the founder of VC-ratings site TheFunded.com, who was Musk's housemate in college. Matt Marshall, the editor of VentureBeat, also dropped by. Musk pressed a set of keys on me and offered a Tesla test drive; I turned them down. Honestly, I figured I'd crash the thing, and I didn't want to put a further dent in Tesla's already parlous cash balance. But I finally agreed to go for a ride with Marshall. How was it, you ask?Kind of boring. If you like amusement-park rides, you'll love the Tesla Roadster. If, like me, you sit there calculating the infinetesimal odds that the operator's insurers will allow a rollercoaster to actually pose any real danger to you, you'll hate it. I spent the ride up to Coit Tower and back thinking about how much coal was burned to generate the electricity now being thrummed away by the Roadster's motors. Back at the bar, Musk was affable enough, considering I've hinted he's taking out his midlife crisis on his employees and may be scheming to take over Tesla Motors completely by running it into bankruptcy. He laughed at the last idea, and then thanked me for the suggestion, saying he hadn't thought of that particular financial maneuver. Musk still blames cofounder Martin Eberhard for Tesla's current straits. When Tesla raised its fourth round of funding in 2007, Musk says, Eberhard, then CEO, told investors that the Roadster's cost was $65,000, giving it a $25,000 gross margin. "It's right there on the slide, with Martin's name on it!" Musk told me. The company, he adds, was already in the middle of a search for a CEO to replace Eberhard. A private-equity firm which had invested in Tesla sent some consultants to help Tesla sort out supply-chain issues, and they found that the Roadster's parts actually cost the company $140,000. "We might as well have sent customers $50,000 and saved the bother of making the car," said Musk. Former Flextronics CEO Michael Marks, a Tesla investor, confirmed their findings — and that's when Musk decided to fire Eberhard and replace him temporarily with Marks. Just as now, the company's cash position was running low, and Tesla tapped existing investors for new funding, despite having just raised a round. He revealed none of this at the time, he says, because it would have jeopardized the company's ongoing CEO search. (Not that that worked out particularly well; Musk installed Ze'ev Drori, then replaced him last month.) That's Musk's version, anyway. I'm skeptical, if only from experience with Musk; when he was running PayPal, I remember him making statements that company insiders told me didn't match the facts. But as he was leaving to drive back to the Valley, Musk mentioned that his divorce from his sci-fi novelist wife Justine was a mutual matter; he got the paperwork in first, but she was getting ready to file papers, too. That, at least, checks out. I'm still not sure if I should trust Musk's account of what led Tesla to these perilous straits. But I do believe now that he's brave enough to drive a Roadster up to San Francisco and deliver it in person.