Autoblog reports that a completely refurbished Lotus Esprit prop car from the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me will hit the auction block next week at the Coys Monaco sale. It is expected to fetch anywhere from £30,000 to £40,000.
Penned by Giugiaro, the Esprit initially appeared as a one-off design concept at the 1972 Turin Show, and the production car was little changed. Beneath the ultra modern and sharp-edge styled fibreglass body, which was moulded in two halves with the join cleverly concealed by waistline trim, was the Lotus trademark of a steel backbone chassis, but with a mid-mounted in-line slant-four cylinder engine cradled in a tubular frame.
Using Vauxhall’s 1,973cc alloy block, the motor sported a lotus twin camshaft cylinder head which with twin Dell’Orto carburettors produced 160bhp and 140lb.ft–good for 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds and 135 mph. Roadholding and traction were extraordinary via front and rear coil spring/double wishbone suspension, with the driveshafts acting as the upper links, brakes were solid discs all round, in board at the back. The majority of these S1 cars–of which 718 were produced before replacement by the first S2 in 1976–were exported to the USA, with British buyers having to wait over 12 months after the launch before the Esprit became availible to them. However, those working for Queen and country and holding a valid 00 licence to kill were attritutes which allowed one to “Q” jump!
The Lotus was to make its first appearance in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me starring Roger Moore. Q’s modifications meant that the Lotus was able to turn into a Submarine and thus had the optional extras of four water propellers, retracting road wheels, hydrovanes, and impressive offensive armament, a periscope and all that was necessary for survival beneath the sea’s surface. The convincing underwater sequences in the film were largely filmed in tightly controlled condictions in a huge studio water tank. Lotus have confirmed that this car or shell was one of two complete cars and two “kits” plus extra body shells, used in the film. The first owner purchased this Lotus shell in Bahamas in 1988 and decided to prepare it as it had been used in the film, in the underwater sequence. Lotus supplied photographs and technical informations on how the car was prepared for filming, and the vendor duly returned it to the specifications in which it appeared in the film.
While this remarkable car “prop” does not have engine or running gear it remains a rare and eye-catching exhibit; In The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond (Roger Moore) modified Lotus provides much of the film’s excitement. It was used by the film-makers as an updated version of the Aston Martin with the additional impressive feature that this car turns into a submarine. As a road car it is involved in an entertaining chase around Sardinia pursued by a missile-launching motorbike, Jaws (Richard Kiel) and a car full of Stromberg’s henchmen, and finally by Stromberg’s mistress Naomi in a helicopter. In an effort to evade Naomi, Bond accompanied by Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) drivers the car off a jetty into the sea where it trasforms into a submarine. Bond uses one a remarkable Lotus’ many features–a missile-launcher–to dispose of Naomi and proceeds to take a closer look at Stromberg’s underwater base. Having utilized the submarine Lotus’ arsenal of weapons including ink jets, torpedoes and mines to fight off Stromberg’s hostile drivers. Bond drivers the car up a beach to the amazement of the many holiday makers.
On the 8th of February 2002 it’s current Italian owner purchased this unique gadget from another well known Italian collector during a Christies sale dedicated to 007 for approximately £35.000. More recently the car has served as a touring exhibit dedicated to James Bond where it has been shown alongside an Aston DB5 and Citroen 2CV replica from the film, For Your Eyes Only, (also offered in this sale).
Perhaps the ultimate collectible for any James Bond fan.
The sale will take place on Monday 21, May 2007 in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Visit the official website for further information.
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