James Bond's submarine Lotus sports car for sale

The Esprit from 'The Spy Who Loved Me' heads to auction after years hidden away in a Long Island storage unit.

By Jason Notte Jul 1, 2013 10:23AM
James Bond’s Lotus Esprit submarine car in 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (© Everett Collection/Rex Features)Hollywood has produced more than a few lust-object automobiles in its time: Steve McQueen's green Ford Mustang from "Bullitt," Burt Reynolds' Pontiac Trans-Am from "Smokey and the Bandit," Michael J. Fox's time-traveling DeLorean from "Back to the Future" and just about anything actors dressed as Batman ever drove.

Roger Moore's Lotus Esprit submarine car from the 1977 James Bond film "The Spy Who Loved Me" occupies one of the lower tiers of that on-screen auto hierarchy, but it's no less cool when parked in an owner's garage.

As Bond cars go, it's no Aston Martin DB5, but it's still one of the most easily recognizable from the Bond franchise. Seven different cars were used to make the Lotus look like it was transforming into a sub, though only one was a fully mobile sub designed by Perry Submarines.

RM Auctions is putting that particular Esprit Series 1 on the block in London on Sept. 8 and 9. The Lotus was doomed to the purgatory of a Long Island, N.Y., storage unit for much of its life. In 1989, a couple who bought the unit sight unseen unearthed the vehicle and have held on to it since. The car cost $100,000 when it was originally built, which comes out to $500,000 in 2013 dollars.

In the context of "The Spy Who Loved Me," the submarine car was perhaps one of the least memorable elements of the film. The movie is considered perhaps the best of the Roger Moore era and featured Barbara Bach as KGB agent Triple X, future staple Bond villain Jaws and the Carly Simon song "Nobody Does It Better."

At auction, however, the submersible Lotus may finally get its starring role. The last Bond car the auction house sold, the DB5 driven by Sean Connery in "Goldfinger" and "Thunderball," went for for $4.4 million in 2010.

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Jul 1, 2013 11:27AM
I don't see where this takes a back seat to any of those.
Jul 1, 2013 2:13PM
One of the least memorable elements of the film?  Compared to what?  Or maybe this writer only has eyes for everything Computer Generated in a movie.  A car that converts to a  fully functional  underwater craft, yet this writer calls it least memorable? 
Jul 1, 2013 11:54AM
Does the gal in the movie come with it?
Jul 1, 2013 2:00PM
I'd like to own it!!! Especially if Barbara is in the passenger seat.
Jul 1, 2013 2:25PM
would have been great Storage Hunters episode
Jul 1, 2013 2:04PM
I can't look at the picture, without hearing the 007 theme music in my head.
Jul 1, 2013 2:34PM
My dad owned a 1977 or 78 Lotus esprit you wouldnt believe how many people asked if it could go underwater.
Jul 1, 2013 2:21PM
Might be worth the price if all of the weapons came with it.
Jul 1, 2013 4:06PM
I tried to make one out of a Fiero, but it sank.
Jul 1, 2013 2:45PM
As a GI at an army chopper base in W. Germany in the early 60s the first four Bonds were hits at base theaters, believe me.  ""From Russia with Love" was my favorite.  One actor in it was "Quint" in "Jaws" who put up a hell of a fight with Connery on a train. 
Jul 1, 2013 2:57PM
Where do they get this $500K equivelent to $100K thing?  So....someone who made $20K back in 1989 has to make $100K today to have the same level of spending, according to this?  Seriously....no way that's remotely accurate.
Jul 1, 2013 4:03PM

"one of the least memorable elements"

Really?  It's about the only thing I remember about the film.

That and Richard Kiel's grillwork.

Jul 1, 2013 2:06PM
They didn't really say, if after years of sitting, wether the car can still be used as a submarine and is still water tight? I have a spare few millions i'd be willing to throw into the pot if it still is indeed wether tight. Especially if the rocket launcher still works that it fired into the helicopter, while the car was underwater. Would love to hear back from RM auctions and see if they can give me a run down if everything works in the car like it should.
Jul 1, 2013 3:58PM
I wonder how much they paid for the storage unit?
Jul 1, 2013 3:35PM
Id rather have Naomi and her "Chopper"
Jul 1, 2013 2:56PM
Remember, most used cars are sold "as is".
Jul 1, 2013 4:19PM
If seven cars were used to make the Lotus look like it was changing into a sub which one is this?  If this one is a submarine can it also be used as a car?  What happened to the other six Esprits?
Jul 1, 2013 3:30PM
Lower tier? Hell. That Lotus car was bad. Whenever I think of that movie, it's the first thing that comes to mind. And, of course, my 6-foot fantasy for the following ten years, Caroline Monroe AKA Naomi. It hurt like hell to watch my big baby doll get shot down in her helicopter. But, I understand, James. You had to do it.
Jul 1, 2013 2:49PM
nice car, even if it is only a looker...
Jul 1, 2013 4:29PM
Wouldn't be funny, after paying $500,000 the owner drove it into the ocean only to find out it wasn't the actual "sub". 
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