James Bond’s Lotus Submarine Car up for Auction

lotus-esprit-submarine-spy-who-loved-me (Image: Morio, cc-sa-3.0)

James Bond‘s Lotus Esprit submarine car from “The Spy Who Loved Me” is set to go on sale for the first time in September. Described as a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, the iconic white vehicle will feature in RM Auctions‘ London sale on September 8-9.

Known on set as “Wet Nellie”, the Lotus Esprit Series 1, rarely seen over the past 35 years, was driven off a jetty and underwater in one of the 1977 film’s most famous scenes. It later emerged from the sea with Sir Roger Moore at the wheel.

lotus-esprit-submarine-spy-who-loved-me-2 (Image: Jörg Behrenscc-sa-3.0)

Six Esprit body-shells were used during filming. But only one was transformed into a fully functional submarine car. The conversion, carried out by Florida-based Perry Oceanographic, cost more than $100,000 (about $500,000 today).

Retired Navy Seal Don Griffin stood in as Bond during the underwater scenes. The Lotus was operated using its motorised propellers and a lever steering system.

lotus-esprit-submarine-spy-who-loved-me-3 (Image: Morio, cc-sa-3.0)

When filming wrapped, the Esprit was shipped from the Bahamas to Long Island, NY, where it was placed in a storage container on a 10-year pre-paid rental. Later sold in a blind auction for what was described as a “modest” price, the couple who won the bid had the Lotus authenticated after discovering what they’d bought.

lotus-esprit-submarine-spy-who-loved-me-4 (Image: Jörg Behrenscc-sa-3.0)

The last Bond car to be auctioned, the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, fetched £2.9 million in 2010. Max Girardo, managing director of RM Auctions Europe, said: “We have a great track record in selling incredible and iconic movie cars, and this particular Lotus is certainly up there amongst the most famous cars of all time.”

More Bond film props – check out this full scale Vulcan bomber mock-up from Thunderball

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