The name's Esprit, Lotus Esprit
BBC Norfolk takes a look inside the very Lotus used in the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me. Owner Nick Fulcher and stunt driver Roger Becker, reveal the secrets behind Bond's best loved car.
In 2005, James Bond's Lotus Esprit from the film The Spy Who Loved Me was voted the most memorable car in movie history, beating Starsky and Hutch's Ford Torino, the VW Beetle from Herbie and even the Batmobile.
After more than 30 years since the film was made, the very car used in the Hollywood blockbuster has been fully restored and is revving its engine back in Norfolk.
Back to former glory
Nick Fulcher, from Hethersett in Norfolk, used to work for Lotus as an upholsterer and has used his skills to bring the Mk I Esprit back to its former glory.
"The interior was absolutely dreadful. It was nothing like it should be. All the interior chrome trim was missing, it was completely crucified! For someone to do that to such a valuable car is absolute sacrilege," said Nick.
Not many other people in the world would have been able to transform the former 007 car as the materials needed for an authentic look are now unavailable.
"Before I left lotus I had it in the back of my mind that materials and cloth are not going to be around forever. Maybe in 20 or 30 years time people are going to want to restore their cars, so I bought lots of materials from the factory. I just kept it for 30 years and now it's beginning to pay off," said Nick.
Attention to detail
Mk I Lotus Esprits are now few and far between, but this model is in a league of its own. Changes had to be made to the car as there were difficulties during the filming of The Spy Who Loved Me.
The green and tartan interior
"All the production cars had tartan on the headrests, but this one has got green on. When they were doing the filming with Roger Moore, the tartan was very bright and glared back with all the bright lights and it was really ruining the effects they wanted in the film. We had to re-do the headrests from tartan to all green," said Nick.
It's the attention to detail that has made this car almost invaluable, although Nick has had a few offers.
"I've turned down £250,000 for it but I am an ardent collector of James Bond memorabilia," said Nick.
Bond films are renowned for their high speed car chases and death defying stunts and The Spy Who Loved Me was no different.
Roger Becker, from Norfolk, has worked for Lotus since 1966 and has worked his way up to Director of Vehicle Engineering for the company.
For the filming of the Bond classic, Roger had to deliver the Lotus Esprit to Sardinia where a stunt driver would put the car through its paces.
"This is the actual one that Roger Moore sat in. This is the car where Q sat in the corner telling Bond 'not to do this, not to do that, be careful of this and that' and is also the car he got into with Barbara Barton and drove away," said Roger.
Fortunately for Roger, the stuntman who had to drive the Esprit was having a bad day.
"The car was used in a scene, where it came out of a hotel at a great speed. It was such a simple scene but the driver just didn't switch into the car. He really wasn't at one with the Lotus, as one needs to be, to get the best out of it," said Roger.
The Esprit with the unmistakable 007
"The second unit director became annoyed and he said 'bring that car up here'. I thought he meant anybody, so I jumped in the car and hurtled up the road sideways, got up to the top of the hill and jumped out of the car. He was just about to say 'why cant you do that on film' before he realised it was me. From that moment on, I drove the car," he added.
Roger drove the car for the next seven weeks, racing anything from cars to helicopters.
"I saw the film. We had a special showing in Norwich and I think the whole Lotus factory went. The cinema was full because there was our car - seven weeks work and we got seven minutes in the film," said Roger.
The white Lotus Esprit with 007 on its number plate will go down in history as one of the best Bond cars in existence and BBC Norfolk can see it's in safe hands.
last updated: 15/10/2008 at 12:43