James Bond's Lotus Esprit submarine car sells for $968,000

This unique prop spent years in a Long Island storage locker but can still drive under the waves.

James Bond submarine car
This submersible Lotus Esprit from 'The Spy Who Loved Me' was found in a locker. RM Auctions

No matter how luxurious your dream car is, it probably can't drive under water. Unless you're the proud new owner of James Bond's submarine car from "The Spy Who Loved Me."

Piloted by Roger Moore as 007, the Lotus Esprit became famous in the 1977 film for vaulting into the sea, promptly converting to submarine mode, and dispatching a few baddies beneath the waves.

But after languishing in a Long Island storage locker, the aqua-car has seen the light of day again, selling for $968,000 with fees at a London auction.

RM Auctions sold what it described as the "fully functional" 007 Lotus Esprit Submarine Car on Monday for 616,000 pounds ($968,000).

The prop actually doesn't have wheels and isn't a real car -- another vehicle was used for the road shots. But it is a real "wet submarine," meaning it is full of water while submerged, and can be driven under water.

On RM Auctions' lot description, Ian Fleming Foundation co-founder Doug Redenius details the submarine's unique appeal.

"No Bond car has ever done anything as outrageous onscreen as transform itself into a submarine; none except for this Lotus in the epic 'The Spy Who Loved Me,'" he writes. "Breaking with tradition, Q is never given the opportunity to explain the car's features to 007. So, when the Lotus is fired off a jetty into the sea, the audience was stunned, and captivated."

Known as "Wet Nellie" during production, the wedge-shaped Esprit was displayed at auto shows to promote the film. After that, however, it was stored on Long Island with the locker rent paid in advance for 10 years.

When the lease expired, the tenant couldn't be found. Its contents were sold in a blind auction and a local couple reportedly acquired the sub in 1989 for less than $100. It was restored, exhibited again, and later presented for the first public offering by RM Auctions.

Someone seems to have cashed in on the discovery. Check out more pics of Bond's underwater car in the gallery above.

 

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