The submarine Lotus Esprit driven (sailed?) by James Bond in 1977’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ sold at RM Auctions in Battersea last night for £550,000 ($864,000, €651,000). While not meeting the expected £675,000-£950,000 guide price it’s still an excellent price for the Esprit which often tops polls as the most iconic movie car of all time. The car recently resurfaced (!) in the USA when a speculative blind purchase of a delinquent storage unit revealed it’s treasure. Nice buy!
The Esprit 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).
Peter Haynes of RM Auctions said:
“We are very happy with that price, it is very strong money for what is an important piece of movie memorabilia, Bearing in mind it is not a car that can be driven on the road, the price just goes to prove the draw that all Bond-related memorabilia has,”