The iconic Lotus submarine car used by James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me has fetched a staggering £629,000 at auction.
Roger Moore’s company car for the 1977 film was a Lotus Esprit complete with gadgets and weapons courtesy of Q Branch.
And the car’s party trick was its ability to be driven underwater – and the only model used for those scenes in the 1977 spy flick was sold on Monday night.
A bidding war broke out between a telephone caller and a lady in the room, after an opening offer of £100,000.
Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, who owns the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film car and has been seen in a ‘Goldfinger’ Aston Martin, was among those who attended the sale.
But he did not put in a bid as the hammer at the RM Auctions sale eventually went down at £550,000.
The anonymous telephone bidder paid a total of £629,000 including sale premiums for the submarine.
It represents a huge profit for the seller, who bought the car for just $100 (USD) in a blind auction in 1989.
It is also 37 times the price a £17,000 typically paid for a road-going Lotus Esprit.
Incredibly, with a bit of tinkering, engineers who worked on the Lotus Esprit submarine car are confident it can be returned to working condition.
The prop, which cost more than £50,000 to make in 1977, was built for the film by Florida-based Perry Oceanographic which used the shell of a Lotus Esprit.
Don Griffin, a retired navy seal, operated the vehicle in the movie, utilising its motorised propellers while manoeuvring with levered steering mechanisms.
However, the Lotus – known as Wet Nellie – can only be used in water as it is a submarine and not a car. Road models were used for scenes shot above sea level.
Last time RM Auctions sold a Bond car was in 2010 when the spy’s Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger went for £2.9 million.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, fiction’s best-known spy goes up against megalomaniac Karl Stromberg who plans to destroy the world and create a new civilisation under the sea.
Bond was given the sub-aquatic Lotus so he could drive underwater and spy on Stromberg’s facilities.
When filming in the Bahamas was completed, the Lotus submarine was shipped to Long Island, New York, where it was kept in a storage unit on a ten-year rental, paid in advance.
In 1989, the then rent delinquent unit was put up in a ‘blind’ public auction.
A $100 bid from a local couple brought surprise and wonder when the blankets were removed to reveal the iconic 007 ‘Submarine’ Car.
After it was authenticated, the Lotus was shown occasionally but it has been kept mostly under wrap until now.