A closer look at the soon to be auctioned Lotus Esprit submarine from The Spy Who Loved Me

03 September, 2013

007's Lotus Esprit Submarine Car, used in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me will be auctioned on Monday, September 9, 2013 by RM Auctions in London.

Lotus Esprit submarine RM Auctions september 1

The car goes under the hammer without reserve with an estimated price of £650,000 - £950,000.

Guess the final sale price of the car in the Bond Lifestyle contest for your chance to win an original Q-mug. Click here to enter.

This exclusive car might even fetch a much higher price since it is the one and only fully functional Submarine Car and has never before offered for sale.

Lotus Esprit submarine RM Auctions september 2

Doug Redenius, Co-Founder, The Ian Fleming Foundation, on the Lotus Esprit: "It is believed that Lotus provided two production “road cars”, plus seven Esprit fibreglass body shells, to the filmmakers. One of those shells was reported to have been split in half to film Roger Moore and Barbara Bach in their separate seats. The remaining six body shells, delivered bare, were used to initiate and consummate filming the underwater scenes. Each of these shells was modified to perform specific functions in the movie. Here is the evolution of Wet Nellie on the screen:

1. Used for the tyre retraction sequence.
2. Used to portray the side fins protruding from the wheel arches whilst the periscope extends.
3. Featured in the below-surface-to-air missile sequence from the rear hatch.
4. Tethered to a powerful air cannon and jettisoned off the pier and into the water below.
5. The spare unit for the above.
6. The one and only fully enclosed shell used to film the functional Submarine Car.

Once filming was complete, the tyre shell (1) and the missile shell (3) were left behind in the Bahamas and given as souvenirs to Roberts Scrap Metal Company, who assisted with the heavy equipment for the shoot. The tyre shell exists today in poor condition in a Florida museum. The fin shell (2) has seemingly disappeared (with its whereabouts unknown), whilst the missile shell (3) is owned by the Ian Fleming Foundation and is proudly on display as part of the on-going 50th Anniversary of James Bond Exhibit at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum. The first of the pier shells (4) was damaged by the air cannon during filming in Sardinia, and it is presumed to have been discarded. The other pier shell (5) may have been unused or used more lightly; in any event, it was later unofficially retrofitted with mock up gadgets and sold in the late 1980s.
Which leaves the one and only functional Submarine Car (6), which is being offered to the public for the first time ever.

Lotus Esprit submarine RM Auctions september 1

Doug Redenius on the amazing story of lost and found: "In conjunction with the 1977 release of The Spy Who Loved Me, U.S. Lotus (Lotus East) executive distributor Fred Stevenson procured Wet Nellie for display at auto shows, according to correspondence between Stevenson and the location manager for Eon in the Bahamas. Stevenson remembers the Lotus was full of sand and seaweed upon delivery in New York and there was no time to clean it prior to its first public debut at the New York Auto Show! This was followed by appearances at shows in Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles, by which time its custodianship was taken over by Lotus West. Stevenson relates having great fun with the Lotus, discussing its unique features with dignitaries and celebrities who enjoyed having their photographs taken with Wet Nellie.

Eventually, Wet Nellie was shipped to Long Island, New York, where it was kept in an unassuming storage unit in Holbrook, New York. The lease was reportedly for a 10-year rental, paid in advance. Fate later intervened when, in 1989, the rent delinquent unit was put up “blind” at 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. The roof had been damaged, but it was otherwise wholly intact. It’s new (and current) owners recount that, whilst towing it home, the CB radios of highway truckers were all abuzz about the sighting of the famed Lotus. After positive authentication, Wet Nellie was cosmetically restored and fitted to a custom-designed display trailer and exhibited occasionally, including a stint at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, but it was mostly kept closely under wraps... until now."

Read more about this extraordinary car on RMAuctions.com

Guess the final sale price of the car in the Bond Lifestyle contest for your chance to win an original Q-mug. Enter here.

All photos © RM Auctions


Bond Lifestyle Gift Guide 2017

Add new comment