The Tale of Wet Nellie, the Underwater Bond Car

If you’ve ever seen one of the television shows where people bid on the contents of abandoned storage units, you can imagine how the person who discovered the long-lost star of a James Bond film must have felt. Back in 1989, that’s exactly what happened involving a Lotus Esprit Turbo coupe that had been converted into one of the 007 film franchise’s most famous automotive props. The 1967 film You Only Live Twice featured a feisty gyrocopter, equipped with heat-seeking missiles. It was named “Little Nellie” in honor of British movie star Eleanor “Nellie” Wallace. Some 10 years later, an allegedly waterproof and heavily-armed Lotus emerged from the clandestine workshop of MI6 gadget-man “Q”. Wet Nellie was constructed in the U.S. by underwater propulsion specialists Perry Oceanographic and at the time cost a reported $100,000. Unfortunately, despite the immense amounts of money being spent, Wet Nellie wasn’t all that waterproof. In fact, the crew of two who controlled the Lotus would have drowned without breathing apparatus. Wet Nellie went unclaimed for 10 years in a prepaid storage unit, and when the lease ran out, it was auctioned off. The buyer bought the storage unit for less than $100, including the submarine. The buyer didn't know the contents when he bought it, and from 1989 to 2013 occasionally exhibited the submarine. The buyer, who was the owner of a tool rental shop, eventually had the exterior restored and it was put up for auction as a Bond car. The submarine sold at auction for £550,000 ($655,703). Elon Musk bought the Lotus for almost $1 million, planning to convert it into the functional car-submarine from the film. When he discovered that couldn't be done, he said he would upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain. To date nothing much has happened.