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Here's The Lo-Down On The Lotus, 007's Submarine Car

An in-depth and underwater look at an iconic Bond moment

Leo Shvedsky
October 05 2021
We all live in a driving submarine: 

Imagine, if you will, you’re driving a pearl white 1977 Lotus Esprit down a coastal Sardian road. Dotted with olive trees and drenched by the warm Mediterranean sun, the stunning Mount Genis foothills are on your right, the azure blue waters of the Tyrrhenian sea are on your left. Life is good.  

Then, suddenly, from out of nowhere, a gnarly black helicopter starts chasing you with its machine guns blazing. There’s nowhere to turn, you’re trapped. Rude much? From the corner of your eye you spot an old pier jutting out from the road and into the water. Without hesitation you swerve onto the rickety planks, they creak and groan from the weight of your mid-engine roadster. And then, with a look of befuddlement on your pursuers’ faces you drive straight off the pier and into the water.  

Cool and classy: 

Congratulations, you’re now James Bond 007 of her Majesty’s Secret Service. Because, once in the water you don’t just drown like a normal person would. No, you flip a switch and voila your car is now a submarine. And, oh yeah, it also has rockets that you launch at the helicopter blasting it out of the sky.  

Any Bond fan can tell you that what we just described is reminiscent of the famous scene from the 10th installment in the franchise The Spy Who Love MeWith No Time To Die, the latest installment, due in theaters this week we wanted to look back at this outlandish Bond gadget with some history and light trivia.

The story of how Lotus overtook Aston Martin as Bond’s official car for a few years goes something like this. A P.R. guy from Lotus drove a pre-production model of the Esprit to Pinewood Studios, where all the Bond movies are filmed, and bribed a security guard to let him park where it was in everyone’s way. Eventually the producers of the movie saw and fell in love with it.  

Lotus ended up giving the production two working cars and five shells. One of the shells was used to show the car driving off the pier and the other was turned into the “Wet Nellie.” The Wet Nellie, as the crew called her, was a fully functioning submarine built by a company in Florida. Although, it is what’s known as a “wet” submarine where the interior of the sub is not closed-off from the waters surrounding it. Meaning people inside had to wear scuba gear.  

If you ask us, we think it’s kind of weird to have a submarine that can’t protect you from the water. But hey, you can’t have it all it seems. The submarine itself was fully functional at a depth of 20-30 feet and could dive and surface and all that. We’d still say it’s pretty cool. 

Look at those little flippers: MGM 

We’ll leave you with this morsel of awesome trivia, though. In 2013 the Wet Nellie was purchased by someone who is a bit of a Bond villain figure himself, that’s right you guessed it – Elon Musk! Who else?! Musk bought the car at action for cool million, as Bond villains tend to do, and said that he plans on turning it into a real submarine. Wow, just wow.



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