Price: Around $400,000
Inspired by Bond
Of all the Bond films through-out the years, one of the coolest gadgets to emerge from Q-branch was the Lotus submarine-car from The Spy Who Loved Me, so It’s only fitting that when Swiss design company Rinspeed set out to build a real-life version of the underwater-car, they based it on the Lotus Elise.
It’s Called the sQuba and just like Bond’s legendary Lotus, the sQuba apears to be an ordingary sports car on land, but when it hits a body of water, a pair of twin screws power it along the surface then, with the flip of a switch, the sQuba sinks below the surface and becomes a high-tech submersible.
The designers have a ways to go before they reach the full “cool factor” of Bonds Esprit. The most noticeable difference between the Esprit and its real life counterpart is that the sQuba is a convertible, so occupants will be fully exposed to the elements; frigid water, man-eating sharks and spear gun toting henchmen just to name a few.
To breathe, you’ll have to wear a scuba mask connected to the car’s integrated compressed-air tank.
Rinspeed has a couple good reasons why it didn’t go with a closed cockpit. The first is safety. In an emergency, occupants might not be able to exit a closed cockpit vehicle underwater. Buoyancy is the second reason, as the vehicle would need two tons of extra weight to offset the volume of air inside a cockpit, which would seriously compromised the car’s on-road handling.
The sQuba’s not gonna set any speed records, on land its top speed is about 77 mph, but it slows down to 3 mph on the surface of the water, and 1.8 mph underwater. And with a maximum depth of 30 feet you won’t be taking a Sunday joy ride to the Titanic.
But really — who cares?! This thing goes underwater!
The sQuba is an all-electric vehicle with three motors, one to drive the car on land and two to power a pair of screw drives for underwater movement. These are aided by two Seabob jet drives that “breathe” through rotating louvers which give the car its underwater maneuverability.
Power is supplied by state of the art, rechargeable, Lithium-Ion batteries making the sQuba a zero-emission vehicle. Even the Motorex lubricants used in the sQuba are biodegradable so there’s no damage to the underwater environment.
If you ever get separated from the sQuba it will resurface automatically. It’s even capable of autonomous, unmanned, driving on land, thanks to a sophisticated laser sensor system.
The interior is water and salt resistant. The high-tech VDO instrument cluster and controls create a futuristic ambiance and allow controlling all vehicle functions even while submerged.
The only things the sQuba lacks are torpedoes and depth charges, you’ll have to install them after-market.
Company CEO Frank Rinderknecht, a self-professed Bond fan, said he has been waiting 30 years to re-create the car he saw Roger Moore use to drive off a dock and into the deep blue sea. The “Q” in sQuba is an homage to the gadget wizard who heads up Q-branch in the Bond franchise.
Rinderknecht said it cost more than $1.5 million to make the sole sQuba in existence. Rinspeed is in discussion with commercial manufacturers about making a limited number of the cars. The price? “It would be cheaper than a Rolls-Royce,” he said.
A 2008 Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe has a sticker price of more than $400,000 so this thing ain’t gonna be cheap.
James Bond’s Lotus Esprit from “The Spy Who Loved Me”
And here’s the real thing in action: