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James Bond Lotus submarine sells for almost $1 million

Lotus Esprit S1 that turned into submarine in the 1977 movie 'The Spy Who Loved Me' sat for years in a storage locker.

By Douglas Newcomb Sep 11, 2013 12:39PM

1977 Lotus Esprit S1 submarine. Photo by RM Auctions.Cars have always been an important part of the James Bond film franchise, but only a handful stand out as the most memorable.

After the iconic Aston Martin DB5 of “Goldfinger” and "Thunderball" fame – a model that resurfaced in the latest Bond flick “Skyfall” – one of the most well-known 007-mobiles is the 1977 Lotus Esprit S1 that turned into a submarine in “The Spy Who Loved Me.”

While the price of the Lotus didn’t come close to that of the original “Goldfinger” 1964 Aston Martin DB5, which sold at auction for about $4.4 million in 2010, the famous submersible Bond car did fetch just under $1 million.

Unlike the James Bond DB5, the Lotus sub is a prop; it isn't a real car and doesn’t even have wheels. (Another vehicle was used for the road shots in the movie.) Like the DB5 that sold in 2012 – which was equipped with a functional smoke screen and oil spreader to evade the bad guys, as well as nonfunctional front-mounted machine guns that protrude from behind headlights – the Lotus submarine was described as "fully functional."

RM Auctions, which sold the car, said the Lotus is a genuine "wet submarine" and can be driven under water. But the story of how it ended up at auction sounds like something from a movie script. Or at least an episode of the reality TV show "Storage Wars."

The Lotus submarine became known as "Wet Nellie" during production of "The Spy Who Loved Me" and was exhibited at auto shows to help promote the film. After its big splash on screen, the sub was stashed in a storage locker on Long Island with the rent paid in advance for 10 years.

The original tenants couldn't be found once the lease expired, so the contents of the storage locker were offered in a blind auction. A Long Island couple supposedly acquired the Bond sub in 1989 for less than $100. It was later restored. RM Auctions announced in July that the Lotus sub would be for sale.

On Monday the sub sold for approximately $968,000 at RM's London auction. But this pales in comparison to the price paid this weekend for a not-so-famous but rare 1967 Chevy Corvette: $3.2 million. While the 'Vette can’t claim movie star status, the record price tag is due to the car's L-88 designation, one of only 20 built in the 1967 model year.

[Source: CNET, Yahoo]
Sep 12, 2013 7:37AM
I tried to make one out of a Fiero, but it sank.  :(
Sep 12, 2013 6:49AM
My own submarine!  Well, If I win the $600 million lotto. I will buy it and keep it at my beach home in Monte Carlo. I know the rich folks have fancy yachts but who has a LOTUS SUB????
Sep 12, 2013 7:08AM
I can't wait to get it out on the lake!
Sep 12, 2013 7:07AM
I hope the buyer puts it on display as has been done with other famous cars.  I would love to have a shot at seeing it for real.
Sep 12, 2013 7:16AM
Sep 12, 2013 7:01AM
Would  look wild mounted over my mantel, or imagine what a babe magnet it would be at the marina.  Too cool for words....
Sep 13, 2013 9:25AM

I hope they did a video on the restoration, or even found one on the prop creation.  It would really be interesting to see how that was done.  It's a 'wet' sub, so the operator has to have a personal air supply that doesn't make bubbles in the cab and give the show away too. 

So, it's an electric boat. 


For the wildly off-topic posters: Like the Toyota, it doesn't burn Esso fuel (hint: Google Esso). 

Unlike recalls by American manufacturers that mean they're already doing image damage control, for those by companies that use the TQM process management methods, re-calls are actually a method of getting the fix out at the highest priority.  The risk averse Toyota management has simply capitalized on it. 

Sep 17, 2013 10:45AM
Reminded me of when I saw the underwater sled used by Sean Connery, the one which fired spears, on display many years ago. It was rusting and in poor condition. Can't fathom how movie making folks of   the past did not see potential future value in such interesting props. Losing track of the movie car/sub is case in point. Likewise, the "Chariot" of "Lost In Space" was taken apart and used as a work vehicle at a ski resort. Go figure.
Sep 13, 2013 6:07AM
By the way Mac, what do your comments have to do with this article? Just saying......angry boy.
Sep 12, 2013 12:51PM
HEY!! I had a Fiero back when they first came out. It was a blast to drive, loved the speakers built into the seat headrests! Mine caught fire and burned, remember when they had that issue? Not much has changed for GM since then. Their new saying should be, "GM...Let's keep the fire burning"  or " GM, we'll leave a fire on for you".
  When I purchased that car, I thought the Enduroflex would be the body material of the future. No more rust (grew up in the salt belt), no more dents. Wasn't thinking about it catching fire damn it!

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