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James Bond’s amazing Lotus Esprit ‘submarine car’ is headed for auction

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If you’ve ever seen the James Bond movie “The Spy Who Loved Me,” you might recall the famous scene where 007 drives a sleek Lotus Esprit into the ocean. After driving up on to the beach on the other side, he rolled down the window and dropped a fish onto the sand. This, for some reason, has always infuriated tech-obsessed Bond fans, as they argue that if the fish got in, plenty of water would have as well.

While that’s true, they’re missing a bigger point: James Bond had a Lotus that drove under water. The idea is laughable that someone – Even Q – could make an Esprit into a functional submarine. But believe it or not, that’s exactly what Perry Oceanographic did in 1977.

Yes, the aquatic Lotus Esprit – lovingly nicknamed “Wet Nellie” –  in the film was real and fully functional. In the film, Don Griffin, a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, successfully and safely piloted it. Costing over $100,000 (the equivalent of $500,000 in today’s dollars) to build, 007’s ocean-going Lotus has rightfully found its way to the top of many polls when generations of movie fans are asked to vote on their favorite film cars of all time.

Now you have a chance to own the iconic car. Yes, that’s right: The Lotus Esprit Series 1 ‘Submarine’ Car is due to be sold at auction this September by RM Auctions in London.

After its film cameo, the Esprit was locked away in a storage unit in Long Island, New York for a decade. When the account went delinquent, the locker was auctioned off to an area couple in 1989. After having the car thoroughly identified, the couple occasionally displayed the car, including for a time at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Mostly, however, the iconic Lotus has remained under wraps. Until now.

What will the Lotus fetch? RM Auctions didn’t give any figures. Based upon the fact that Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 from the “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” movies sold for $4.4 million in 2010, we suspect it’ll be a pretty (Money) penny.

Bid early and often. We’ll update this story after the hammer falls and we have the car safely parked in DT’s spacious shark-filled mega-aquarium.

Image source: B+ Movie Blog