Tesla Motors Unveils Jaw-Dropping Menlo Park Showroom

Tesla Motors, the automobile startup with backers that include Sergey Brin and Larry Page, held a party tonight to mark the launch of its Menlo Park storefront. The store, which is the company’s second, will be open to the general public beginning this Tuesday.

Despite Tesla Motors’ well deserved reputation as a high-end car manufacturer, it is still very much a startup – the company’s $150 million in funding pales in comparison to coffers held by large automobile companies like Ferrari. As a result, Tesla has strived to create a atmosphere of style and sophistication at its showrooms without breaking the bank.

The new dealership is situated in Menlo Park, about 5 minutes away from downtown Palo Alto and Stanford University. The interior of the building is designed to be “industrial chic” – a strange mix of luxurious furniture (white leather sofas, marble tables) and the trimmings of a basic garage (concrete walls, exposed wooden ceilings). It works surprisingly well, keeping the store’s high-end customers at home without distracting from the showroom’s main attraction: the cars.

Ah, the cars. Tesla has half a dozen of their Tesla Roadster electric car on display, and they don’t disappoint. It’s hard to put into words how ridiculously sexy the Tesla Roadster is in person, so we’ve grabbed a lot of pictures. Suffice to say, as soon as you walk in the store, you’re going to want one.

Unfortunately, actually buying a Tesla Roadster is an involved and lengthy process. To reserve a car, first you’ll need to make a $5,000 deposit, which is mostly just to show you’re serious. To actually get a place on the 1,100 person long waiting list, you’ll need to pony up another $55,000 – making a grand total of $60,000. Of the 1100 people on the waitlist, 600 are for the 2008 model, which had a base cost of $98,000. The remainder of the list is for the 2009 model, which has been upped to a $109,000 base value, mostly to account for the weakened dollar.

Tesla is currently telling customers that the waitlist is one year long, but production is only just ramping up so that time frame may slip a bit. By weeks end there will be around 12 cars on the road, most of which are owned by company boardmembers and investors. For the time being, cars are being assembled at a rate of about 4 a week, with expectations that the company will be able to finish 40 a week early next year.

Unsurprisingly, you won’t be able to just waltz in and test drive a Roadster. To get the keys to one of these beauties, you’ll need to prove that you’re serious (namely, pay the initial $5000), or otherwise convince the dealership that you mean business. At least you have these pictures.