I was given my first LEGO® set the Christmas of 1968, a good three years before my first encounter with James Bond in the theatre. By the time I did see Diamonds Are Forever I had a quite nice LEGO collection—enough to build an alleyway, a red car, and a police car to recreate the famous stunt. Through the early- to mid-Seventies each Bond film inspired a LEGO model; an elaborate boat chase scene for Live And Let Die, a flying car for The Man With The Golden Gun, a shuttle for Moonraker, and a rather unsatisfactory submarine car for The Spy Who Loved Me.
At the age of sixteen, I did what I would consider unthinkable at any other age, I sold my very large LEGO collection. What does a teenager need with building blocks? After four years I came to my senses and set out to rebuild the once grand LEGO collection and after twenty years of LEGO gifts for all birthdays and Christmases and some frivolous spending of my own, I have returned to building James Bond LEGO models. And now much more successfully than when I was young.
This series of articles will feature my favourite LEGO Bond models, starting with what I consider a much better version of that submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me.
Like many of my LEGO models, the Lotus Esprit Sub started with one part—the one part that I said, ‘Hey, this can be part of a…’ In this case, the part was the slope that serves as the Lotus’ bonnet. That piece determined the scale and from that I began to build.
Originally, I wanted to figure out how to make the Lotus’ wheels to retract and side fins to come out. I had pulled off a similar problem on a LEGO version of the Batmobile from Batman Returns, but because I was working on a smaller scale and had the need to replace the wheels with fins, I ended up building two replacable chassis—one with wheels, one with fins—with a simple sliding lock mechanism built into the car’s body to hold them in place.
With the bonnet’s angle determined by the large slope, getting the proper look and angle for the windscreen proved difficult; no slopes or stair-stepped bricks gave me the clean angle that was needed to get that distinctive ‘Lotus Esprit’ look. In the end, I used a common LEGO piece in an unorthodox way. I took a standard 4×6 black plate and simply wedged it between two pieces to achieve the proper angle.
Long after I had a complete model, I sat down to start working on this article. But something still bothered me about my LEGO Lotus—the pipes. Those little pipes that popped out of from beneath the rear licence plate and squirted black ooze on the bad guys windscreen. I didn’t like my solution for them. I had a small Technic brick that on one side had the plate and on the other side had the pipes. In order to make the pipes visible you had to remove the chassis, take of the Technic brick, turn it around, and then put the whole thing back together.
With that frustration, I tore my model apart and began attempting to build a better mechanism that fit in the very limited space available. Ten attempts later, I had pipes that popped out with the help of a LEGO rubber band when the licence plate was folded down. Exactly, what I wanted.
A note on the instruction book: It is not entirely obvious that car chassis does not fit into the car straight. It fits in at a very slight angle in a way that raises the back end of the car a small amount. This gives the the car a slicker looking profile.
A complete parts list can be found on the last page of the instruction booklet. Those wishing build the model, but are missing a few (or all) of the pieces should check out Brick Link, a fantastic website that lists nearly a thousand online stores around the world who all sell LEGO parts by the brick. With Brick Link, I was able to find the final piece of my Red Lotus from For Your Eyes Only. Now I just need to figure out a better ski rack for it.