LONDON – A James Bond Lotus submarine and a 1957 Maserati sold last night at a $33 million car auction.
The Lotus Esprit Series 1 prop, propelled through the water by a working electric motor in the 1977 film “The Spy Who Loved Me,” fetched £550,000 (£616,000 with fees), below a low estimate of £650,000 at hammer prices.
The prop had been bought by an unidentified U.S. couple at an auction in Long Island, New York, in 1989 and this time went to a telephone buyer, outgunning a lone bidder in the room at Battersea Park, London.
The advertised highlight of the second session of the two-day event was a group of seven racers being sold by Irvine Laidlaw. A Jaguar of the type that won the Le Mans 24-hour race three times in the late 1950s didn’t find a buyer after being estimated at £5.5 million to £6.5 million.
Laidlaw, 70, sold the Institute for International Research, the world’s largest conference organizer, in 2005. He has been a prominent driver of high-value cars at historic racing events.
“I gave up racing this year,” Laidlaw said in an interview at the auction. “If I don’t use them, I sell them. I don’t want them sitting around like toys in a toyshop.”
Laidlaw’s D-Type was painted in the colors of the Edinburgh-based privateer Ecurie Ecosse, which won Le Mans in 1956 and 1957. This particular “long-nose” version was a reserve car used by the team for fuel-injection testing. The bidding stopped below the reserve price at £4 million.