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9 SEPTEMBER 2013
JAMES BOND'S "WET NELLIE" FOR SALE AT AUCTION

By: FSWL team
Published:
2013-09-08
"Wet Nellie", James Bond's submarine Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), is one of the lots in RM Auction’s London sale on 9th September 2013.

Here's an extract of the official lot description written by Doug Redenius, Co-Founder of The Ian Fleming Foundation (and FSWL contributor):

The 007 Lotus Esprit Submarine Car from The Spy Who Loved Me commonly tops the polls when multiple generations of movie fans are asked to pick their favourite film cars of all time. Like all the best Bond cars, the Lotus was a veritable war chest of weaponry and gadgetry that was designed to fox and foil the enemy whilst also helping Bond to another hard-won victory for Queen and country.

WET NELLIE SURFACES
In conjunction with the 1977 release of The Spy Who Loved Me, U.S. Lotus (Lotus East) executive distributor Fred Stevenson procured Wet Nellie for display at auto shows, according to correspondence between Stevenson and the location manager for Eon in the Bahamas. Stevenson remembers the Lotus was full of sand and seaweed upon delivery in New York and there was no time to clean it prior to its first public debut at the New York Auto Show! This was followed by appearances at shows in Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles, by which time its custodianship was taken over by Lotus West. Stevenson relates having great fun with the Lotus, discussing its unique features with dignitaries and celebrities who enjoyed having their photographs taken with Wet Nellie.

Eventually, Wet Nellie was shipped to Long Island, New York, where it was kept in an unassuming storage unit in Holbrook, New York. The lease was reportedly for a 10-year rental, paid in advance. Fate later intervened when, in 1989, the rent delinquent unit was put up “blind” at public auction. A modest winning bid from an area couple brought surprise and wonder when the blankets were removed to reveal the iconic 007 Submarine Car. The roof had been damaged, but it was otherwise wholly intact. It’s new (and current) owners recount that, whilst towing it home, the CB radios of highway truckers were all abuzz about the sighting of the famed Lotus. After positive authentication, Wet Nellie was cosmetically restored and fitted to a custom-designed display trailer and exhibited occasionally, including a stint at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, but it was mostly kept closely under wraps…until now.

BEHIND THE SCENES: EVOLUTION OF A GREAT SPY CAR
It is believed that Lotus provided two production “road cars”, plus seven Esprit fibreglass body shells, to the filmmakers. One of those shells was reported to have been split in half to film Roger Moore and Barbara Bach in their separate seats. The remaining six body shells, delivered bare, were used to initiate and consummate filming the underwater scenes. Each of these shells was modified to perform specific functions in the movie. Here is the evolution of Wet Nellie on the screen:

Once filming was complete, the tyre shell and the missile shell were left behind in the Bahamas and given as souvenirs to Roberts Scrap Metal Company, who assisted with the heavy equipment for the shoot. The tyre shell exists today in poor condition in a Florida museum. The fin shell has seemingly disappeared (with its whereabouts unknown), whilst the missile shell is owned by The Ian Fleming Foundation and is proudly on display as part of the on-going 50th Anniversary of James Bond Exhibit at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum. The first of the pier shells was damaged by the air cannon during filming in Sardinia, and it is presumed to have been discarded. The other pier shell may have been unused or used more lightly; in any event, it was later unofficially retrofitted with mock up gadgets and sold in the late 1980s.

Which leaves the one and only functional Submarine Car, which is being offered to the public for the first time ever.

Other auctions with James Bond lots featured on From Sweden with Love:
>Bonhams (November 2006)
>Christie's (December 2006)
>Bonhams (March 2007)
>Bonhams (October 2007)
>UNICEF (October-December 2007)
>Christie's (December 2007)
>Lyon and Turnbull (September 2008)
>Bonhams (December 2008)
>Christie's (December 2008)
>Christie's (November 2009)
>Bloomsbury (May 2010)
>Cameo Fine Art Auctioneers (May 2010)
>Winter Associates (October 2010)
>RM Auctions (Aston Martin DB5) (October 2010)
>Vectis (December 2010)
>Crafoord Auktioner (Casino Royale first edition) (March 2012)
>Christie's (October 2012)
>Christie's (June 2013)

Photo above:
"Wet Nellie", James Bond's submarine Lotus from the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. Image provided by RM Auctions.

Go to RM Auction's website for more information about the auction of James Bond's Wet Nellie:
www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1061050
#auctions

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