RAC Cars News


The Spy Who Loved The Lotus Esprit

By raccars Published

The Aston Martin DB5 may be the most iconic of James Bond's cars, but the sleek, submarining Lotus Esprit of The Spy Who Loved Me ran it a close second – and now the actual vehicle used in the making of the film is for sale.

Bond fanboys are likely to be salivating over the opportunity to acquire this functioning submarine posing as a Lotus, due to be sold by auction at RM Auctions' London event on the weekend of 8-9 September. Nicknamed 'Wet Nellie' and built in 1976, the vehicle takes the form of a 1977 Esprit Series 1, which was converted to a submarine at a cost of $100,000.

After leaving the set of the Bond film, the Lotus Esprit went to a Long Island storage unit. After its prepaid ten year storage period expired, it seems the unit's inventory and ownership details had gone astray, so its contents were offered as a blind auction. A local couple, having won the bid, must have been extremely surprised to then find themselves the owners of a serious piece of automotive and filmic history. Since then, the Esprit has largely remained under wraps, apart from a stint in LA's Petersen Automotive Museum.

In the film, Bond and his beautiful sidekick, Russian agent Anya Amasova, escape a pursuing helicopter by driving the white Lotus off the end of a pier. Bond engages submersible mode, dispatches his enemy by firing a rocket out of the back window skywards and enjoys a pretty underwater tour as Agent Amasova looks on in admiration. Our hero then surprises a beach load of Sardinian sunbathers by driving out of the sea and turning back into a road going vehicle, coolly dropping an oddly placed fish out of the window along the way.

As in all Bond films to that date, objections to the car's validity were misplaced, as the films' producers made a point of only including stunts that were achievable in reality. While the mechanisms may be a bit rusty now, at the time, Wet Nellie could and did go underwater, piloted by former Navy SEAL, Don Griffin.

RM Auctions has been quiet on its expected sale figure for the no reserve lot but the lucky buyer is unlikely to get away less than £500,000 poorer. In 2010, the Goldfinger 1964 Aston Martin DB5 fetched £2.9 million at another RM Auctions London sale.

Looking to Buy?
Search for cars