As time went on, Bond as a character would change. The suave and sophisticated character of Connery would be replaced by several actors before we reach the 1980s with the release of For Your Eyes Only starring Roger Moore in 1981.
The 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, would see Bond driving another British motoring icon for the first time. A Lotus Espirit. Famously this one was more adept underwater than on land. But in 1981, Bond was back behind the wheel of Norfolks most famous export thanks to the success seen with the Esprit (known as Wet Nellie) in The Spy Who Loved Me.
The start of the film has a white Lotus Esprit Turbo in the Spanish countryside. When a wayward henchman of the man Bond is tracking decides to smash the window of the Espirit. It explodes. One of Q’s little additions to the car was self-destruction set up if the vehicle were to be tampered with. Thankfully, this car was actually a rolling shell. But for the driving sequences, a very early production car was used for the on-screen scenes. In the Film, Q’s workshop has managed to rebuild the blown up Lotus for the next time Bond would need it.
For Your Eyes Only most famously features a copper painted Lotus Esprit Turbo in a stunning backdrop of the Ski Resort of Cortina in Italy. Lotus had supplied two very early Esprit Turbos for production (10858 & 10930). So early in fact that the hero car, was actually a pre-production prototype (Chassis 10858). Both cars were delivered to production but when the location was decided on, the cars needed to be repainted. Both were finished light colours that didn’t contrast well enough against the white background of the location.
So, the cars were set back to Lotus’s headquarters of Hethel to be resprayed in the Copper Fire Metallic along with the Gold stripes and decals are seen on the cars used in the film. Whilst at Hethel, a pair of custom fabricated ski-racks were made for the Esprits to give that little bit extra cool to the cars on screen.
After filming had finished, both cars found their way to private owners after a long run of promotional duties. Chassis 10930 was actually held on to by Lotus until 1998 when it was sold at Auction. While the pre-production prototype went on to live life registered as 459 JTA with a private owner.
Apart from the Lotus, what is the other early Bond car that isn’t an Aston Martin?