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.
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
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