So many iconic images spring to mind when you think of James Bond, and his underwater car (or Submersible Lotus Esprit to true fans) is one of them. In fact, when DoYouRemember fans were polled in 2008 to find their all-time favourite Bond memorabilia, the car came out top. And while the Aston Martin oozes class, and Goldfinger's Roll Royce Phantom a certain level of 'untouchable', the Lotus was daredevil and full of surprises - everything you wanted in a Bond movie!
What is it with cars? It seems they steal the show wherever they go, from the Hoff's talking K.I.T.T. in Knightrider; the Doc's De Lorean from Back To The Future; Bumblebee in Transformers; the General Lee in Dukes Of Hazzard; the Batmobile, Mini Coopers in the Italian Job; Herbie the Lovebug... the list goes on! It seems we all love our cars - especially if they can talk or have some other super power. Shame we then have to enter the real world and realise we can only afford a clapped-out Ford Capri. And the only thing with special powers are the furry dice in the front window that seem to be able to block your eye line however much you duck and dodge. Bond's car didn't come with furry dice, though, and for that we loved it...
In 1977 with the release of The Spy Who Loved Me at the cinema, the Lotus Esprit had kids and adults alike choking on their popcorn when it plunged deep into the ocean after a high-octane chopper chase. Surely that was to be the end for it? But no, because seconds later, a pair of fins popped out from its sides and the car emerged unscathed onto a picturesque beach as a result. Well, after seeing that, we all wanted one! A subaquatic sports car might not be very useful on Milton Keynes, but at least you could wow the neighbours by flicking the fins out every so often. Surprisingly, Bond's subaquatic Lotus Esprit never made into mass production - at least in real-size - but a miniature toy version soon became the must-have toy of the late 70s.
The toy car was white and basically a scaled-down Corgi version of the actual-size 1976 Lotus Esprit. With a bath full or at least a sink full of water at the ready, all you had to do was press a button on it's roof and four fins would instantly pop out from the sides. You quickly learned, too, that a second press of the button did something entirely different. Kids with small facial scars and dazed faces would recount tales to their car-less pals about how pressing the button twice would cause little red missiles to shoot out haphazardly from the car. Us kids weren't as adept at Bond in dodging missiles.
Nowadays, the toy car is still a popular find, and fans can order it off Amazon or get it cheap on eBay (it goes from 99p upwards). The real thing went up for auction in 2008 at Bonhams in London with a guide price of £120,000, which was obviously exceeded. But who was the lucky new owner? Who has what it takes to sit in the same seat as Roger Moore? We'd love to know.