The Spy Who Drowned Me... Bond's Famous Submarine Car Hits My Bench!

James Bond's Espirit S1

The Lotus Esprit S1 featured in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) was fondly referred to as 'Wet Nellie' - a tribute to Bond's autogyro, 'Little Nellie' from You Only Live Twice.

As well as being amphibious, the highly armed car has cannons that spray cement on to pursuing vehicles. It also has wheel arches that turn into fins, a small periscope on the roof enabling 007 to navigate at speed underwater and its other weaponry includes a missile launched from its rear deck, mines, sprayed black dye, and torpedoes shot from the front grille.

Here is a gathering of a few photos of the actual car from the film:

I was inspired to try my hand at building a functional model of this car when I saw the progress that Dave Townsend had made on his version, which he'd been working on for quite some time as time and money allowed.

There are small models of this car available here and there on the internet, such as this 1/24 scale offering from Monsters in Motion, however they are too small for RC gear to be easily installed.

I managed to find the very rough beginnings of a 3D file for the car online and proceeded to clean it up, make it more accurate, and make it more suitable for 3D printing and for RC conversion. What I ended up with looked something like this screen grab, taken from my 3D drafting program:

From there, I cut up the main body of the model into five pieces: top front, top back, bottom front, bottom back, and rear. The rear bumper was broken into three pieces and the four prop shrouds and four dive planes made up the remainder.

I decided on a scale of 1/10th, making the model exactly 20 inches in overall length. That is a great size for convenience while still offering a lot of room inside for the installation of all of the running gear I'll need to make it functional.

As this would be a sizeable print, I outsourced my printing to a great company out of New York who turned around the entire project in a week for me. All in all, there was over a hundred hours of print time for all of the parts. The model was printed in PLA plastic to help maximize details and minimize striation inherent with filament printing. Resolution was 250 microns.

When I got the parts back, I noticed a few artifacts in the model that were an issue with me using low-resolution files as the basis for my model. Those will be easily addressed with sanding, filling and priming. I'm not worried at all.

Here is what the parts looked like after I glued the main body parts together with rubber-reinforced CA glue:

From here, I'm going to be going through a lot of the aforementioned sanding, filling and priming in order to get a nice, smooth finish to the parts. As of right now I have not decided if I'm going to mold this up for casting multiple kits, or if I'm going to do a one-off. A lot depends on my time and resources over the next few months.

The main drive system will be a modified 2" SubDriver cylinder with dual output shafts. They'll drive all four rear propellers via a split gearbox. Steering may be handled either by controlling each side of the boat's thrust individually, or by the movie-accurate rudders which are mounted behind the prop shrouds.

Ideally I want to have the ability to control left and right planes individually so that I can do barrel rolls and the like. I'll have to put some thought into how to set that up, either mechanically or through channel mixing on my radio.

For now, I hope you enjoyed the overview of the project! If you have any questions or comments, be sure to let me know!

Bob Martin


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