With stunt-artists George Leech and Jack Cooper at the wheel, and stunt-pilot Mark Wolff in pursuit, The Lotus Esprit sped rapidly into that select world of cinema classics. It was purely by chance that “Wet Nellie” ended up as Bond’s new wheels in The Spy Who Loved Me. Lotus chairman Colin Chapman had parked his very own car outside the film’s production offices with the hope that producers would spot the sporty new Esprit.
- Manufacturer: Lotus
- Model: Esprit
- Top Speed: 135 mph
- Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 9.2 seconds
- Engine Capacity: 2174cc
By chance Chapman’s stunt worked, and he soon found himself striking a deal to supply 6 white cars for the production. A 1:1 scale replica of the Esprit was built by Perry Oceanographics using a body shell that was shipped from Lotus’ headquarters in Norwich, England.
Visual-effects expert Derek Meddings (to whom 1995’s GoldenEye is dedicated), was responsible for the creation of a three-foot submersible model of the Esprit, and the filming of the underwater sequence.
In the film, the Lotus appears to have a fins disguised within the wheel-arches, smoke screen, limpet mines, a front-mounted rocket-launcher as well as surface to air-missiles which can be used underwater. Many other features such as a periscope, and cement-spray dispenser concealed behind the registration plates are included in the Q-Branch upgrade of the car.
The Spy Who Loved me was a box-office smash, grossing a total of $187 million world-wide. Along with Roger Moore, and Barbara Bach, the Lotus Esprit emerged as one of the film’s most celebrated stars. When the film hit cinemas’ Lotus sales increased dramatically, and a three-year waiting list was given for white Esprits. Of the 6 cars used one is the property of The Ian Fleming Foundation, another resides within the Cars Of The Stars museum in England along with past-favourites such as the Aston Martin DB5.