Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Headlights on 007's iconic Lotus Esprit S1 at Bond In Motion

By: FSWL team
Lotus Esprit S1 Bond In Motion
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and highlight one of the coolest cars on display at Bond in Motion, the largest official collection of original James Bond vehicles in the world, the headlights are currently on 007's iconic (to put it mildly) Lotus Esprit S1, affectionately dubbed ‘Wet Nellie’, driven by the late Sir Roger Moore in the film.

The Lotus Esprit S1 became an instant automotive icon when it made its screen debut in The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977.

Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s first Bond film as sole producer and the tenth in the James Bond series, the film’s success helped define the legacy of one of the film industry’s most beloved figures.

The Spy Who Loved Me film poster
The Spy Who Loved Me film poster. © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All rights reserved.

The Lotus Esprit S1 was small in size — 419 cm long, 185.4 cm wide and 117.7 cm from ground to rooftop — but huge in stature. Q’s modifications not only equipped it with cool gadgets and heavy firepower but also with the capability to transform into a submarine. None of this sacrificed the Esprit’s speed or ability to handle the tightest of corners.

In the film, Bond (Roger Moore) picks up the Lotus in Sardinia during his joint mission with Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) investigating shipping tycoon Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens). When Stromberg’s killers chase the pair down mountain roads, Bond uses a cement sprayer hidden behind the rear number plate to blot out the assailants’ car window. To avoid an attacking helicopter, Bond drives the Lotus into the sea.

Lotus Esprit chase Sardinian mountains
The Lotus Esprit being chased through the Sardinian mountains, filmed from the back of another Lotus Esprit. © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All rights reserved.

The Lotus then deploys its full range underwater conversion system; rudders and fins emerge from the sides, a propeller replaces the back bumper, blackened windows block out glare, and a periscope rises from the roof. To destroy the hovering helicopter, Bond launches an air-to-sea missile using the gearshift. As Stromberg’s divers attack, 007 deploys front-mounted torpedoes, an ink cloud and a mine. 007 re-configures the Lotus back into a car, emerging from the sea to the surprise of startled tourists on the beach.

James Bond Lotus Capriccioli Beach Sardinia
Bond’s Lotus emerges on the beach at Capriccioli in Sardinia to the surprise of passing tourists. © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All rights reserved.

Work on the sequence started in Nassau in August 1976. Only one fully functioning road car was supplied for the production. When a second vehicle was needed, the Lotus chairman lent his personal car.

Nassau special effects unit Atlantis model Bond's submersible Lotus
In Nassau, the special-effects unit floated models of Atlantis and Bond’s submersible Lotus out to sea on a barge to film in clear water. © 1977 Danjaq, LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All rights reserved.

A total of seven engineless Esprit shells were used for the underwater action. One of the cars was sent to Perry Submarines to be motorised; the others were converted to represent the various stages of the transformation. To achieve the thrilling moment where the Lotus drives into the sea, the empty shell of a car was launched into the water by an air cannon.

For the underwater sequences, a miniature Lotus was guided through the clear waters of the Bahamas on ultra-thin wires. The finale of the sequence, with the Lotus emerging on a crowded beach, was shot at Capriccioli in Sardinia.

“The Lotus Esprit S1 ‘Wet Nellie’ is just one of the many original film vehicles we have on display as part of the permanent Bond in Motion exhibition,” said London Film Museum Founder and CEO, Jonathan Sands. “We also have original Ken Adam concept drawings showing the Lotus conversion from car to submarine and a range of costumes, posters and other props from The Spy Who Loved Me. Available from the museum and online from we have a popular range of gifts for people of all ages including a Lotus Esprit S1 Submarine keyring and a selection of die-cast models.”

Lotus Esprit S1 Keyring
Official Lotus Esprit S1 Submarine Keyring. © 007 TM Danjaq, LLC. All rights reserved.

The London Film Museum is located at 45 Wellington Street, Covent Garden and is open seven days a week. Tickets are available from and

Editor's Note:
Apart from all vehicles and items from the archive of EON Productions there's an additional 17 vehicles on display at Bond in Motion provided by The Ian Fleming Foundation.

More information about the James Bond film franchise can be found on the official website at



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