VAUXHALL LOTUS CARLTON
First unveiled in 1989, the Lotus Carlton became one of the Vauxhall’s most iconic models. This year the super-saloon celebrates 25 years since it was discontinued in 1992. Production of the Lotus Carlton (and its Lotus Omega sister car, sold on the continent) was originally set for 1,200 units, but the early ‘90s financial crisis stifled demand, and led to the target being missed by 150 cars.
Only 275 right-hand drive Lotus Carltons were sold in Britain, each at the eye-watering cost of £48,000. Produced exclusively in Imperial Green, it appeared to be black in anything but direct light.
Lotus Engineering developed the Carlton’s MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension, which was lowered, and also stiffened the car’s body to improve handling. But at the heart of the Lotus Carlton was an engine so potent that even the enthusiast motoring press were taken aback at its performance. With 377bhp at 5,500rpm and 419lb ft torque at 4200rpm, the Lotus Carlton’s 3,615cc straight-six, twin-turbocharged engine featured twin water-cooled inlet charge coolers. The net result was an outrageous 176mph top speed, and a place in the record books as the world’s fastest production four-door saloon.
The interior, which is rather quaint today, was fully-loaded three decades ago, with anthracite leather seats and trim, fully reclining and heated front seats, polished wood inserts in the doors and dashboard, air-conditioning, a Grundig stereo radio/cassette and CD player, green-tinted glass, an electric sunroof and an alarm system.