Automotive

James Bond’s submersible Lotus Esprit going under the hammer

James Bond’s submersible Lotus...
Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September
Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September
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The submersible Lotus is regarded as one of the most iconic vehicles of the James Bond series
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The submersible Lotus is regarded as one of the most iconic vehicles of the James Bond series
Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September
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Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September

While the pursuit to develop flying cars and Star Warsian land-speeders rages on, the dilemma around developing a functioning underwater vehicle was solved decades ago … by the British Secret Service's Q Branch. In the film The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond escapes from the obligatory horde of bad guys by driving one very versatile white Lotus Esprit into the ocean. That fully submersible vehicle, is now set to go to auction this September.

Next to Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, the submersible Lotus is regarded as one of the most iconic vehicles of the series. One of six Esprit body shells used in the movie, the vehicle was known as “Wet Nellie” by the movie's crew and is the one and only fully-operational, self-propelled underwater Lotus developed and engineered by Perry Oceanographic of Florida for the film.

In the dive sequences, the wheels are shown to fold up into the wheel wells, giving the impression of a sealed vehicle. The wheels are then replaced by dive planes out the sides while tail rudders and propeller drive units magically appear out the back end. After out-maneuvering Karl Stromburg’s evil minions, the Lotus emerges from the water with no sign of the bulky power units or rudders to be seen.

The submersible Lotus is regarded as one of the most iconic vehicles of the James Bond series
The submersible Lotus is regarded as one of the most iconic vehicles of the James Bond series

While Roger Moore preened about on shore, retired US Navy Seal Don Griffin handled the underwater drive sequences in the Bahamas, using the right-hand drive vehicle's directional propellers and levered steering devices. But unlike the sealed, moisture free cockpit shown in the movie, the submersible Lotus wasn't watertight, requiring Griffin to use oxygen and diving gear for the shoot.

At the time the vehicle cost around US$100,000 to create, which is the equivalent of around half a million dollars in today's money ... dependent on the level of Q-inspired optional extras, such as surface to air missiles, rear mounted oil jets, hair gel dispensers, etc.

RM Auctions will put 007’s submarine-styled Lotus up for auction this September at Battersea Park in the UK.

Source: RM Auctions

5 comments
donwine
How lo can a Lotus go?
Gargamoth
Amphibious vehicles are great, but one that can submerge, that beats them all!
nutcase
Collectors will shell out big bucks for film props. Especially this iconic prop with props. Q-branch must be short of cash.
See Comms
One of these went at the 1999/2000 007 Auction in London for £70,000 I seem to recall (I was at the auction) - but wasn't a fully operational version
Dave B13
Silly movie prop inspired the fully functional Rinspeed sQuba. Gizmag probably has an article on that car among the other Rinspeed marvels. [ Ed. Here you go : http://www.gizmag.com/rinspeeds-spectacular-zero-emission-amphibious-concept-car/9288/ ]