James Bond’s submersible Lotus Esprit going under the hammer


July 2, 2013

Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September

Known as “Wet Nellie” by the crew, this one and only fully operational underwater Lotus Esprit will go up for auction this September

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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

About the Author
Angus MacKenzie Born on the cold, barren Canadian plains of Calgary, Alberta, Angus MacKenzie couldn’t decide between marketing, automotives or an entrepreneurial path - so he chose all three. With an education in automotives and marketing, Angus has rebuilt the carburetor on his 1963 Rambler Ambassador twice, gotten a speeding ticket in an F430 once, and driven & photographed everything from Lamborghinis to Maseratis to various German and Asian designs. When not writing, Angus has for the past six years been Editor-in-Chief for elemente, an internationally recognized architecture/design magazine. All articles by Angus MacKenzie

How lo can a Lotus go?


Amphibious vehicles are great, but one that can submerge, that beats them all!


Collectors will shell out big bucks for film props. Especially this iconic prop with props. Q-branch must be short of cash.


One of these went at the 1999/2000 007 Auction in London for £70,000 I seem to recall (I was at the auction) - but wasn't a fully operational version

See Comms

Silly movie prop inspired the fully functional Rinspeed sQuba. Gizmag probably has an article on that car among the other Rinspeed marvels.

[ Ed. Here you go : ]

Dave B13
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