Don Griffin, designer of Wet Nellie, dies

"Wet Nellie" from The Spy Who Loved Me

“Wet Nellie” from The Spy Who Loved Me

Don Griffin, who helped design and pilot “Wet Nellie,” the underwater car in The Spy Who Loved Me, died last month at age 87, according to THIS OBITUARY

Here’s an excerpt:

Don’s tour of life is leading him to his next adventure. He was a man of many interests and talents. From his early days as a Navy Frogman to an instructor for UDT(Seal) till he continued on with his service at Perry Oceanographic (later Lockheed Martin). At that time he helped to design and Pilot the Lotus submarine in the movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. He loved photography especially underwater photography and was nicknamed ‘Frogtographer’.

Wet Nellie’s exploits were one of the highlights of 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, the first 007 film after the breakup between Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

As portrayed in the film, Bond drives a Lotus car with Russian Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) accompanying him. When the Lotus comes under attack, Bond drives the car off a dock after which it converts into a submarine. In reality, a number of vehicles were used. Regardless, audiences got a blast of watching Wet Nellie in operation.

Here’s how The Independent newspaper described the car (and Griffin’s contribution to its operation) in a 2013 story:

The vehicle was developed from one of six Esprit body shells used during the making of The Spy Who Loved Me. The Lotus was driven by retired Navy Seal Don Griffin, who operated it using motorized propellers while manoeuvring with levered steering mechanisms.

The version of Wet Nellie that actually traveled underwater was acquired at auction by billionaire Elon Musk.

A shoutout to Doug Redenius, who posted about Griffin’s death on Facebook.