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Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 30th January 2019

LOTUS CARLTON (1990-1992)

A Vauxhall Carlton GSi fitted with AP Racing brakes, wide arches, twin turbos, chargecooler, Corvette gearbox, stroked engine and a whole lot more. Sounds like a Fast Car-style tuned car doesn’t it? Well, it was tuned, but by sports car manufacturer Lotus before it was sold to the public – as this is the legendary Lotus Carlton.

On its first release in 1990, this car caused uproar among road safety campaigners due to what appeared to them, to be a family four-door saloon with an absolutely huge top speed.

The reality is, this is no family car; it’s a serious supercar, fast enough to leave the BMW M5s and even Porsche 911 Turbos of the time in its wake. Even today, this car can annihilate plenty of very fast cars on the road and its looks have aged well.

It’s still awesomely eye-catching, with its hugely aggressive bodykit making it unmistakable from anything else. The official performance figures are said to be deliberately toned down too, and 4.8sec to 60mph, 10sec to 100, and a 186mph top speed is more like the truth. The on-road performance of these cars certainly seems to tally with that.

Yours for just £125k

Less than 1,000 of these £48k cars were ever made and you’ll be lucky to get your hands on one at all now, there’s a one currently for sale for £125k at Silverstone Auctions.

As you may know, only one colour was available, a dark racing green that looks black unless in sunlight, but it’s a colour that suits the car perfectly. The six-speed gearbox was very long geared, with its top speed being achieved in 5th, and 6th gear being more of a cruising gear – with 70mph cruising being barely above idle speed.

With enough power, a tuned Lotus Carlton could potentially achieve huge top speeds thanks to this gearbox, but this is very rare. Although the big Vauxhall is incredibly tuneable, with almost 450bhp and similar torque possible with minor tweaks, people tend to do very little to these cars because they’re so rare.

A true legend of the motorways and a tuner’s dream, if you dare…


Lotus Carlton Spec:
Engine: 3.6-litre 24-valve twin turbo
Power: 377bhp
0-60mph: 5.2secs
Top speed: 175mph+