Wet Nellie: The Second Most Famous Bond Car
The third James Bond movie to star Roger Moore as double-oh-seven, "The Spy Who Loved Me" is probably in the top five most popular films of the famed franchise mostly thanks to the extensive use of the underwater Lotus scenes in its marketing.
It was the first James Bond flick to have a completely original story line, as Ian Fleming - the creator of James Bond - had given permission to use only the title of his novel. It was also the first movie of the franchise to be singlehandedly produced by Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, the man who is credited for bringing Bond to the big screen.
The stereotypical, farfetched and somewhat cheesy plot revolved around a water-loving megalomaniac baddie named Karl Stromberg, who wanted nothing less than obliterating all mankind from the surface of the Earth. The basic idea was that he would steal missiles from both American and Russian submarines, use them against all humanity, after which he would casually retreat to his new underwater kingdom where he would rule over the surviving people.
Let's Get Wet!
Nicknamed the "Wet Nelly", the white Esprit S1 (or Series 1, as some people prefer it) was a Q Branch developed automobile, just like the aforementioned (and more famous) 1964 DB5, which was first driven by Sean Connery in "Goldfinger". If "The Spy Who Loved Me" had been made today, the underwater chase scenes would have been most likely done using nothing but CGI. Given the fact that the movie was released in 1977, all of the stunts were made using a real submersible, which didn't look like any other submersible made before or after.
No less than six Esprits in both "actual car" and "shell" form were used during filming, one of which was most likely totaled during the water jump scene. Obviously, the most spectacular and feature-packed one was the submersible, which was an actual wet submarine using a Lotus Esprit body.
Another waterproof Esprit was modified for the sequence where the car is emerging from the water onto a beach filled with perplexed sunbathers, while a separate modified car was used for the scene where the Lotus is transforming from surface roamer to Ocean swimmer.
Once the submersible car idea was drafted, only half the work was completed, since it soon emerged (pun intended) that completing it would be much more difficult than expected.
First of all, the distinct wedge-shape of the Giurgiaro-penned Lotus Esprit was much more appropriate for generating downforce. This meant that extensive modifications - such as adjustable fins at each corner and four electric drive units with steering vanes at the rear - had to be made in order to keep the Lotus submarine operating under somewhat "normal" conditions.
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