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James Bond Lotus Esprit submarine car headed to auction [w/video]

Fri, 28 Jun 2013 19:57:00 EST

We've covered many cars from the movies and TV that have made their way to auction (the original Batmobile, good old General Lee and even Bond's iconic Aston Martin DB5), but this one ranks up there among the rarest and coolest. RM Auctions has just announced that the Lotus Esprit submarine car used in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me has been added to the docket for its upcoming auction in London, September 8-9.
Of course, there are dozens of Bond cars floating around out there in collections, but none as unique as this Lotus, which ended a chase scene in the movie by taking a long walk off a short pier and transforming itself into a submersible. Since CGI was a meaningless collection of letters back then, the producers of the film actually built a fully functional Lotus Esprit submarine for the shoot. They hired Perry Oceangraphic in Florida to turn one of their six Esprit body shells into a fully functioning submarine, and former US Navy Seal Don Griffin was tapped for piloting duties. RM Auctions claims the Esprit submarine cost over $100,000 to build at the time, which is about $400,000 in today's dollars.
The submarine car comes with a incredible story, too. After filming in the '70s, it was shipped to Long Island, NY where it was kept in a storage unit that was paid in advance for ten years. When the storage contract ended in 1989 and no one claimed the contents, they were sold off in a blind auction to an area couple who had no idea what they were getting. The car has been shown occasionally in the years since, but its value remained purely speculative, until now. To date, the most valuable Bond car we know of is the original Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball that sold for $4.6 million in 2010, but when the gavel falls at RM Auctions' London sale in September, we'll find out if the car nicknamed "Wet Nellie" on set can beat it.

Top Gear caught filming Best of British near Buckingham Palace

Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:58:00 EST

YouTuber and car-fan extraordinaire Shmee probably had very little trouble tracking down the Top Gear film crew recently, as the group was putting together an episode that could accurately be described as "excessive." With its flag-waving (literally) Best of British theme, the TG guys gathered a jaw-dropping array of British cars, and parked them all right in front of Buckingham Palace to make extra sure that the point was driven home.
Top Gear hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were outfitted with a trio of Jaguar F-Types festooned with gigantic Union Jacks, with which to survey the landscape of British motoring glory. In the video below, you'll see that this includes any number of Mini, Aston Martin, Lotus, McLaren, Land Rover, Bentley and Rolls-Royce models (just to name a few), as well as a healthy dose of weird stuff that most people would never guess at being built in the UK. The lawnmowers and military vehicles are especially cool.

Lotus getting into the motorcycle business

Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:29:00 EST

Lotus founder Colin Chapman is famously quoted as saying something to the effect of "Simplify, then add lightness." We're a bit amazed that it took this long, but someone appears to be taking that message to heart at the British marque, losing a couple of wheels, a clutter of bodywork and a whole mess of weight. No, Lotus isn't planning another spindly Seven-style trackday racer, it's getting into motorcycles.
Well, sort of. As an automaker, Lotus apparently isn't directly behind this two-wheeled effort, but it does appear to have officially lent its brand and logo to a new company, Lotus Motorcycles, which counts former Volkswagen Group designer Daniel Simon, Germany's Holzer Group and auto racing team Kodewa among its partners. The latter builds and races Lotus' T128 Le Mans Prototype in the World Endurance Championship series.
The new company is touting an as-yet unseen motorcycle, a racing-inspired "hyper bike" called C-01, releasing only the image above - a carbon fiber fuel tank trimmed in Lotus' trademark black and gold livery. Details are tough to come by, but the project is said to include a powertrain good for around 200 horsepower and construction involving titanium, carbon fiber and aerospace-grade steel.

Stock Miata beats bunch of high-powered cars in wet 1/4-mile drag race

Thu, 06 Jun 2013 14:57:00 EST

When is a stock, 167-horsepower Mazda MX-5 Miata quicker than a Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, Lamborghini Gallardo, Lotus Elise and a Porsche 911? When it's raining. Sort of.
Mazda Canada arranged a unique drag race to show off the fact that the Miata's optional power retractable folding hardtop can go from top-down to top-up in just 12 seconds flat. In this video, all six cars line up for a drag race, and it starts to rain (well, sort of - but you'll have to watch the video all the way to the end to see what we mean). The green flag is waved, and the timer starts as soon as the convertibles begin to put their tops up. But because the Miata's roof mechanism gets the car's roof back up a full 5.1 seconds quicker than the second-place car, the Mazda gets a serious advantage off the line for the actual drag race.
It's a fun video. And while we've spoiled the results (come on, the video was uploaded by Mazda, you knew the Miata was going to win), be sure to see how it all unfolds, below.

Race Recap: For the 2013 Monaco Grand Prix, NASCAR comes to the principality

Tue, 28 May 2013 09:16:00 EST

Lots of contact, debris cautions, trips into the wall, full-course yellows and a red flag - these are the kinds of racing terms you unbox when you want to have a conversation about NASCAR... or the Formula One grand prix of Monaco. In this case we're not talking about the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, we're talking about 78 laps in the South of France that even featured a fallen camera cable just like that stock-car race.
This year, Mercedes-AMG Petronas drivers treated their chassis' like busses instead of F1 cars, Romain Grosjean treated his Lotus like a battering ram, Sergio Perez kept sticking his McLaren's nose in places and eventually got it smacked, and maybe the size of the drivers' mirrors should be changed instead of the tires as there were almost as many firsts as there were crashes. Plenty of F1 fans wish Monaco were removed from the calendar, yet even though it doesn't specialize in traditional thrills, that doesn't mean nothing happens during the parade through - and into - the barriers.

Lotus offers Exige S Roadster for sale, but not in North America

Thu, 23 May 2013 17:45:00 EST

The first thing you need to know is that this is the Lotus Exige S Roadster, unchanged from the Exige S even in price and officially the fastest convertible Lotus has ever made. The second thing you need to know is that if you live in the US, you won't be getting this car.
Now that that's out of the way, the lack of a roof, rear wing and front splitter help make it 22 pounds lighter than the coupe, coming in a 2,565 pounds, and the supercharged 3.5-liter V6 in this topless blossom discharges 345 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. For historical comparison with a non-convertible, those numbers nearly match the 2004 Lotus Esprit V8 Final Run edition - which had twin Garrett turbochargers. Yet the Exige S gets from a stoplight to 60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds, nearly a full second quicker than that Esprit. Fair play, though, the Esprit did weigh 3,040 pounds.
It will be fitted with a six-speed manual only, and cost 52,900 pounds ($79,667 US), 55,378 euros ($71,404 US) or 8,500,000 yen ($82,078 US), depending on where you live. Here in the US we'll be sticking with the track-only Exige V6 Cup and Cup R models. The press release below offers more on the fine points.

Recap: 2013 Spanish Grand Prix is Catalan for 'Lottery' and 'More pit stops'

Tue, 14 May 2013 09:27:00 EST

This year's Formula One season might qualify as being just as crazy as last year's, only it's a different kind of crazy. Instead of a new winner every Sunday, how the winner actually manages to take the victory is the mystery, and just when we thought the season might have settled into a groove regarding team performance, here comes the Spanish Grand Prix to remind us that we don't know anything until the race has been run.
There were many similarities to past weekends to being this one: Mercedes-AMG Petronas showed awesome one-lap pace, Fernando Alonso did well enough in qualifying to get fifth on the grid but talked up the race pace of the Ferrari, Kimi Räikkönen was the equivalent of a racing photobomber, never saying much but always showing up in the picture, Felipe Massa wasn't really big on the tires and McLaren might want to consider starting a blues band they spend so much time singing them.
Then the lights went green and things went nuts...

Lotus Exige S Roadster coming this summer to a circuit near you

Wed, 01 May 2013 19:14:00 EST

We haven't heard much about the Lotus Exige S Roadster since we first saw it at the Geneva Motor Show last year, but Lotus is now confirming the car will go on sale this summer. Of course, unless anything has changed since the car was introduced, Lotus' "ultimate roadster" will still not be coming to the US.
Lotus has released a new video showing its 345-horsepower roadster in action, and while it doesn't even show that much of the car, you can check out our live images of the Exige S Roadster in our gallery. The video, which looks like a knockoff of a Universal Studios movie trailer, is posted below.

Race Recap: 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix follows the template of this year and last [spoilers]

Mon, 22 Apr 2013 17:00:00 EST

The sand, the wind, the penalties, the contact and the one crash - all of them collided to make the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix a surprise affair from day to day and lap to lap. Oh, and did we mention the tires? Pirelli made a last-minute swap after the amusement park ride that the Chinese Grand Prix turned into with the soft compound tire, and brought medium and hard compounds to the desert. That didn't stop things from falling apart for some teams - literally - and that didn't stop the one team that seems to love the hard compound Pirelli tire.

Lotus bankruptcy case dismissed in UK

Mon, 18 Mar 2013 16:30:00 EST

Times have not been easy for Lotus lately, so when its name came up on a list of companies scheduled for a liquidation court, it seemed like the end could be near for the fabled British builder of lightweight sports cars. As it turns out, Lotus was on the Companies Court Winding Up list in the UK due to a contractual dispute with a supplier, and the High Court has since dismissed the case.
According to Autocar, Lotus and the supplier actually resolved their issue earlier in the year, but the process couldn't be stopped until seen by a judge. The report says that the case was initiated when Group Lotus failed to pay some of its debts, which is probably a fair indication that Lotus is far from out of the weeds in regards to its financial difficulties.