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Last month, the Lotus Esprit that James Bond (in his Roger Moore incarnation) drove underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), was sold to an anonymous bidder for nearly one million dollars at RM Auctions, a classic car auction company in London.
Interestingly, the car proved to be the inspiration for the sQuba – an actual, underwater car manufactured by Rinspeed, a Swiss car company.
Rinspeed CEO, Frank Rinderknecht Rinspeed, chose to modify a Lotus Elise and turn it into the sQuba, because of the Elise’s weight distribution characteristics and suspension. The main modifications were made to the car’s power train and included the addition of three electric motors.
One motor is used to drive the car on land and the other two are used underwater. The sQuba is relatively eco-friendly and creates zero pollution in the water; top speed on land is 120 km/h, and six km/h underwater.
But how does the sQuba float? Well, Rinspeed added lightweight body panels made from carbon nanotubes to the chassis to reduce its weight, as well as two ‘sea bob’ water jets to help it move with ease.
The sQuba does not have a roof, and on entering the water, the driver needs to flood the interior with water in order to make the car heavier. Once in the water, the driver and passenger will (unfortunately) get wet but they will be able to breathe underwater through an on-board oxygen system. Needless to say, they can’t wear formal suits like Roger Moore did, and should ideally opt for water proof ones.
The car is still undergoing extensive tests to ensure that it is sea worthy, but it is expected to go on sale within a year – at a cost of approximately $174,000.
– Jaffer Khan
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on October 13, 2013.