Bond car surfaces! Iconic 007 Lotus Esprit submarine car to go under the hammer

12 July, 2013

RM Auctions will auction off the one and only functional Lotus Esprit submarine car, used in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), at its central London sale, 8–9 September 2013.

007 Lotus Esprit submarine car on auction

The vehicle to be offered by RM Auctions at its forthcoming London sale in Battersea Park, is the one and only fully functioning car especially designed and built for the famous underwater sequence seen on screen in the 1977 film. Abundantly authenticated, and known as ‘Wet Nellie’ on the set, it was developed from one of six Esprit body shells used in the making of the film. 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 utilizing its motorized 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).

  • Fully functioning submarine car was designed and fitted to propel underwater
  • The actual car seen, on screen, driving underwater; one of the most famous movie cars of all time
  • Never before offered for sale
  • Amazing story of ‘lost and found’

Subsequent to filming the underwater scenes in the Bahamas, the vehicle was shipped to Long Island, NY, where it was kept in an unassuming storage unit on a ten year rental, paid in advance. Fate later intervened when, in 1989, the then rent delinquent unit was put up ‘blind’ for public auction. A modest winning bid from an area couple brought surprise and wonder when the blankets were removed to reveal the iconic 007 ‘Submarine’ Car. After positive authentication, the Lotus was shown occasionally – including a stint at the Petersen Automotive Museum – but mostly kept closely under wraps, until now.

Max Girardo, Managing Director, RM Auctions, Europe, says: “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. Over the years, millions of moviegoers have stared in awe as the Lotus transformed itself into a submarine, and now, perhaps one of them will have an opportunity to own it.”

RM Auctions sold “the most famous car in the world”, the Aston Martin DB5 used by Sean Connery in the enormously popular Goldfinger and Thunderball movies, for an incredible £2.9 million during its 2010 London sale (read more).

For further information on RM Auctions’ forthcoming London sale, or to view a frequently updated list of entries, visit rmauctions.com.


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