Bond car back home for a spruce up
It was one of the stars of James Bond movie The Spy who Loved Me with its sleek lines and dual role as a high tech sports car and submarine. Now, 30 years later, the famous series one Lotus Esprit is back home in Norfolk for a complete restoration carried out by the expert who customised the interior of the car for the movie, and worked on the special effects at the Pinewood Studios.
It was one of the stars of James Bond movie The Spy who Loved Me with its sleek lines and dual role as a high tech sports car and submarine.
Now, 30 years later, the famous series one Lotus Esprit is back home in Norfolk for a complete restoration carried out by the expert who customised the interior of the car for the movie, and worked on the special effects at the Pinewood Studios.
Nick Fulcher was running the engineering trim design and development department for Lotus when the firm was asked to supply two identical white Series 1 Lotus Esprits for the blockbuster film starring Roger Moore and Barbara Bach.
He knows the car inside out and still has the original templates for the seat covers, as well as batches of material from the 1970s when they were rolling off the production line at Hethel. And when an enthusiast discovered - during an on-air discussion with BBC DJ Chris Evans - that Mr Fulcher had one of the Bond cars in his possession, he rang up and offered him £250,000 for the vehicle.
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“I was commissioned by an agent and I have never met the client. The owner could be Prince Charles for all I know, as we have done work for royalty,” he joked.
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“It was 30 years ago when I went down to Pinewood Studios. This is one of two road-going cars that were used in the film and the engine number is 007. All the rest were spoofs. We used about nine different bodies in different guises, and when the car went under the sea and the wheels tucked in it didn't really happen.
“There was no-one inside when it came out of the water, it was pulled by a cable hidden under the sand. The editors are very clever and they join the film so in your mind you think it's the same car.”
Mr Fulcher started his working career as a bespoke tailor with Norwich firm Harry Derby, learning how to trim cars with leather when he joined Lotus -then launching his own business, N Fulcher Coachtrimmer of Hethersett, in 1977.
He has a photograph of his son Stephen, who is carrying out much of the restoration, pictured beside one of the Bond cars at the factory as a young boy. But its colourful red and green tartan headrests had to go on arrival at Pinewood.
“The headrest glowed when they tried to photograph Barbara Bach and Roger Moore's faces, so it had to be changed to plain green,” he explained. “For the film, we had to make a clock that flipped over into a screen for the periscope. It was the only Series 1 to have a periscope screen between the visors, and that was in the spoof cars as well.”
Restoring the Esprit to its James Bond livery is costing thousands of pounds and involves meticulous attention to detail. And Mr Fulcher said it is a shame the project will not be finished this week when Roger Moore is expected to attend a book signing in
“It would have been really good if we could have got him sitting in the car at the book signing,” he said.
Other prestigious projects during his career include re-upholstering the cockpit seats of the British Airways 747s and Tristars, working on private jets and second world war aircraft, trimming a set of treasure chests for Disneyland Paris, and creating an Elizabethan-style wedding dress dripping with pearls for a young bride who had “no joy with top London designers”.
“With this job you never know what's going to land on your lap,” added Mr Fulcher, who recently made special rigid covers to keep the new Lotus Evora safe from prying eyes when it was being developed.
His passion for motor racing stems from working at Lotus cars. He used to trim all the seats, some of the steering wheels, and alter racing overalls and helmets to suit the Grand Prix drivers' requirements, and in his workshop is an array of signed gifts and mementoes from the glory days of Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt through to Mika Hakkinen and Alessandro Zanardi. .