James Bond's Lotus Esprit Series 1 Submarine Car Going Up for Auction

Of all the cars featured in the 23 James Bond films, two stand out the most, beginning with the original Aston Martin DB5 used by Sean Connery in the now classic 1964 Goldfinger and 1965 Thunderball movies, which was sold for a paltry £2.9 million (US$4.4 million / €3.4 million at the current exchange rates) during its 2010 London sale. The other one is the Lotus Esprit Series 1 ‘Submarine’ Car used more than a decade later in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, starring Roger Moore, and now, it could be yours – well, theoretically, that is. The original Lotus from the movie, which was known as ‘Wet Nellie’ on the set, is heading for the auction block at RM Auction’s London event on September 8-9, in Battersea Park. RM Auctions explains: “As the only car to be built into a fully operational, self-propelled ‘submarine’, by Perry Oceanographic, based in Riviera Beach, Florida, it is the vehicle which claimed the most screen time in the film. The driver of the car was Don Griffin, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL and test pilot for Perry, who operated the vehicle utilising its motorised propellers while manoeuvring with levered steering mechanisms. At the time, the car was said to have cost over $100,000 to create (equivalent to nearly a half million dollars today).” The auction house tells us that after filming the underwater scenes in the Bahamas, the Lotus Esprit was kept in a 10-year rental storage unit in Long Island, New York. Amazingly, when the rent was up in 1989, no one appeared to renew the contract and the car was put up ‘blind’ for public auction, with the winner acquiring it for what RM Auctions says, was “a modest winning bid from an area couple”. The coupe was offered the surprise of their life when they lifted the blankets revealing the James Bond car. Up until now, and aside from the occasional museum and event showings, the Esprit was mostly kept under wraps.