Q Branch proves appearances can be deceptive with its unique Lotus Esprit. This high-performance sports car transforms into a submarine, fully equipped with an impressive array of underwater weaponry. Audiences watching The Spy Who Loved Me were amazed when Bond drives his Esprit off a jetty and into the sea. But what happens next is more remarkable still: the Esprit transforms into a submarine. Nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’, the Lotus is made of waterproof, lightweight fibreglass. It can drive to 100 metres and remain submerged for up to two hours. 007 tests the Esprit’s weaponry in an underwater battle with Karl Stromberg’s frogmen.
Features Telescopic periscope – The periscope provides a 360 degree field of vision for the pilot to locate enemy craft and divers.
Air defence – Radar-guided, surface-to-air missiles are concealed in a hatch above the rear windscreen. Multiple missiles can be fired from four launchers.
Defence jets – In sub mode, two small jets concealed behind the rear number plate spray ink to disorientate pursuing craft. On land, another two, larger telescopic rear jets fire liquid cement to black out the windscreen of enemy cars.
Retractable wheels – To enter submarine mode, the front and rear wheel mechanisms disconnect the steering and the engine transmission. The wheels rotate 90 degrees to horizontal and retract inside the Esprit wheel arches.
Limpet mines – Mines can be launched from a magazine underneath the hull to destroy enemy submarines.
Hydroplane Fins – With the wheels fully withdrawn and the wheel-arch doors locked, fins slide out to stabilise the Esprit underwater.
Trivia Housed underneath the bonnet are two harpoon guns and a powerful battery of four heat-seeking missile launchers. Two missiles contain stun grenades and the other two, explosive warheads. In underwater mode, the Esprit’s dual-purpose dashboard revolves to reveal a nautical control panel with a navigational system. Four propellers, powered by an auxiliary motor in the boot, emerge from the rear bumper to provide a top speed of 7.2 knots (13 km/h). The two side rudders steer the craft.
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