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Car Submarines

Is there anything cooler than a car-submarine? We think not! Inspired, we take a look at their 007 beginnings and where things are headed. 

James Bond

Car-submarines became a thing following Wet Nellie – a custom-built submarine used in the 1977 Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me. Wet Nellie was built in the shape of a Lotus Esprit S1 Sports car, of course, this is James Bond we’re talking about! As for the name, it comes from the reference to Little Nellie which was an autogyro used in You Only Live Twice.

Wet Nellie

Wet Nellie was built specifically for the film by Perry Oceanographic. They used a Lotus Esprit S1 body shell, which, at the time, cost them around $100K. The shade of the Esprit helped force the submarine to dive and this was enhanced with fins replacing traditional wheels.

With four electric motors which could only propel the car forward, the submarine required at least two people for it to operate. The inside of the car looked nothing like a traditional car and instead was simply a space for the operational equipment required to power the submarine.


After filming completed Wet Nellie went off on a promotional tour to meet its legion of adoring fans. Rather sadly, it was later placed in a prepaid storage unit for 10 years, which everyone then forgot about.

As the contents weren’t claimed they went to auction and the buyer ended up paying under $100 for the content. From 1989 to 2013 Wet Nellie was occasionally exhibited and the owned also restored the exterior. Eventually, in 2013, the owner decided to put it up for auction as a Bond Car and scored a cool £550,000 at an auction in Battersea in London.

The owner? Elon Musk - the CEO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors! He planned to convert it back into the functional car-submarine from the film. Last year Elon Musk told The Register: "We will be making a submarine car. It can transition from being a submarine to a car that drives up on the beach. Maybe we'll make two or three, but it wouldn't be more than that. It's not like we'd sell it, because I think the market for submarine cars is quite small.”

Buy your own

If you, like Elon Musk, fancy owning your own car submarine – now is your chance! For £1.2 million you can snap up your very own sports car which can be driven underwater. Inspired by Wet Nellie, this submarine sports car – which claims to be the only one of its kind - is powered by an electric motor which allows it to reach an impressive 75 mph in water.

Simply hop aboard and drive into the water. The sports car will initially float on top; you then pull a lever which submerges the car below the water. The car is fitted with propellers and water jets which help manoeuvring when under water. It also – rather crucially – features two built-in scuba tanks and driving regulators which allow two people to stay underwater for up to an hour.

All that’s left do is perfect your bowtie and avoid drinking a martini (shaken, not stirred) before operating. 

Offbeat  29/01/2016 14:53:34

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