James Bond’s Submersible Lotus Comes up for Auction

NEW YORK | Monday, August 12th, 2013 8:07am EDT

The white Lotus Esprit car famously driven underwater by actor Roger Moore in the James Bond film ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ is to be auctioned at Battersea in London in September.

James Bonds Submersible Lotus Comes up for Auction 01

Experts expect it to fetch a price of several million dollars when it comes under the hammer. Photo: Battersea

James Bond’s car from “The Spy Who Loved Me” is probably one of the most memorable cars in the automobile and movie industries.

RM Auctions has announced plans to auction off the Lotus Esprit Series 1 ‘Submarine’ car that appeared in “The Spy Who Loved Me” alongside Roger Moore.

Experts expect it to fetch a price of several million dollars when it comes under the hammer. It’s expected to sell for at least £500,000, but may well fetch considerably more: the record price for an ex-Bond car – also sold through RM Auctions – was set in 2010, when the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger sold for £2.9 million.

The car is billed as the only car to be built into a fully operational, self-propelled ‘submarine.’ It was developed by Perry Oceanographic in Florida and driven by Don Griffin, a retired Navy SEAL.

According to RM Auctions, when filming had finished, the car was used for a promotional tour, and then the Lotus was kept for years in a lock-up in New York until a couple bought the property in a so-called “blind auction” with no knowledge of the contents of a container kept at the building, writes the Times Live.

As the Telegraph reports, Doug Redenius, founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation and Bond historian, knows more about this period of the car’s history than most.

He says that whereas many movie props were given away or sold off, Wet Nellie’s unique nature and expensive construction meant that it wasn’t destined to meet the same fate: “Somebody had a plan in mind,” he says.

The couple who won the auction are said to have paid a modest amount and had no idea that the unit they won held a vehicle that had cost $100,000 (the equivalent to $500,000 in today’s money) to create.

Though the car was put on show occasionally, it was never permanently on display anywhere. Soon, it could be permanently on display in your home.

Since then, the car has toured and been exhibited, and the owner has spent some money having the exterior carefully restored to its original condition.

He still stands to make a huge profit when it is sold, however, and he’ll be there at the auction in Battersea Park when Wet Nellie will, most likely, cause the world to gasp in amazement all over again.

Plenty of James Bond cars have sold over the years. A coveted 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that was used in “Goldfinger” and other films sold in 2010 for $4.6 million, and ,actually, making it one of the most expensive pieces of automotive film memorabilia in the world.

Another DB5, which was used to promote the films, is also currently on the market for $4.69 million, according to CNBC.

But the submarine car, which was nicknamed “Wet Nelly” during filming, is regarded as the most famous Bond vehicle next to the Aston Martin. The car helped Roger Moore and actress Barbara Bach escape a helicopter by jumping off a pier and onto the vehicle, which turned into a submarine.

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