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.
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.
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.
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