James Bond 'Submarine' Car Going up for Auction
The Lotus Esprit went underwater in 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me" and then fell into obscurity during a decade spent inside a storage container.
Lucky bidders soon will have the chance to take home an amphibious peace of James Bond history.
The 007 Lotus Esprit Series 1 “Submarine Car,” featured in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore, will be on the block in September by RM Auctions in London. It’s the only car designed for the film’s famous underwater scene and was built from six Esprit body shells used in the movie.
The car is a fully operational, self-propelled "submarine" and was designed by the Florida-based Perry Oceanographic. In the film, it was driven by retired Navy SEAL Don Griffin, who used motorized propellers and maneuvered the vehicle with levered steering mechanisms.
It cost about $100,000 to make, which would be more than $400,000 in today’s dollars.
After taking to the water in the Bahamas in The Spy Who Loved Me, the car was put in a storage unit in Long Island, N.Y., for 10 years, with the rent paid in advance. It was unearthed in 1989 when the rent went delinquent and the contents of the storage container were auctioned sight unseen. A couple purchased the container for a relatively small sum and were surprised to discover the iconic car.
For the most part, the Lotus was kept out of the public eye, though it did appear for a time at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The auction house is not offering a guess as to how much the car will go for, but it’s safe to bet it will reach seven figures, as Bond memorabilia is particularly sought after. In 2010, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in early Bond films sold for $4.4 million. Last month, a watch adapted for Sean Connery's James Bond in the 1965 movie Thunderball sold for $160,000, and in 2011, a Rolex Oyster worn by Moore in 1973’s Live and Let Die sold for 231,800.
The car goes on the auction block Sept. 8 to 9.