Lotus Carlton: Spotted


The Lotus Carlton needs no introduction, but articles do, so here we go. Produced for a short while in the early 90s, just 950 examples of the Lotus Carlton - all of them wearing the same shade of Imperial Green - saw the light of day, some way short of the 1,100 originally planned. Of those, a large proportion weren't Carltons at all, but left-hand drive Omegas for Europe instead, leaving depending on whether you ask PH, Wikipedia, or Vauxhall themselves, either 285/6, 320, or 440 right-hand drive versions for the UK. As with many such revered things, it seems the exact facts have passed into myth and legend; perhaps a PHer in the know might clarify...

More important than the production figures - to us, at least - are the performance ones. The Lotus Carlton producing 382hp from its twin-turbo 3.6-litre straight-six engine, propelling it, according to most sources, from 0-62mph in just over five seconds and on to a top speed which saw it crowned the world's fastest production saloon.


That performance soon saw it making headlines for the wrong reasons, with the press branding a 176mph family saloon as immoral and the existence of the Carlton even ending up the subject of a parliamentary debate.

It's highly desirable then, and, as with most things that cause outrage amongst the establishment, it's become incredibly cool; but £50,000 for a 27 year-old Vauxhall with almost 40,000 miles on the clock will always seem steep. Time to bring the full force of our Man Maths to bear.

In 1991, this Lotus Carlton would have cost £48,000 - an E34 M5 was £43,500 - instantly making that £50,000 figure appear rather less offensive; it's pretty much just its value. Then there's inflation though, which, through its magic, makes that £48,000 RRP the equivalent of around £105,000 in today's money. All of which means that, at this price, you'd essentially be getting a Lotus Carlton for less than half price, thanks to nothing more than the passage of time and it being nicely run in. Sounds like reason enough to us!


SPECIFICATION - LOTUS CARLTON

Engine: 3,615cc, 6-cyl twin-turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 382@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 415@4,200rpm
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1991
Mileage: 39,558
Price new: £48,000
Price now: £49,995

See the original advert here.

 

 

 

 

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Comments (142) Join the discussion on the forum

  • samoht 13 Jan 2018


    Yum, yes please. These somehow have a real mythology to them that transcends the Vauxhall badge; the Lotus connection and consequent promise of being a really good drive, not just a tuner special is the main part, with pissing off the Daily Mail being the cherry on top. They also have mega presence with the chin spoiler, wide arches and green metallic, way over any regular Carlton.

    However... I'm given to understand that these rust even worse than a regular 25-yr-old Carlton due to the body mods, and that some spare parts are rarer than rocking-horse poo. So I'd want more than a few photos against that premium white-sheet background before shelling out my £50k. Also, the car being sold is a LHD Omega, which is fine if you do a lot of Continental driving I guess.

    But yeah, I would see a RHD car in rust-free condition as worth the £50k, indeed.

  • The Leaper 13 Jan 2018

    Back in the day I had a fire engine red Vauxhall Carlton 3.0 GSI with, I seem to recall, 201 BHP, which was great car. Had it 5 years and did 130,000 miles. The Lotus Carlton was always something else to lust after, very desirable always cool, and always outside my price range. Used to see them occasionally on the road, awesome presence.

    If I had the spare cash I'd go for this car based on the ad.

    R.

  • VR6 Eug 13 Jan 2018

    To give an idea of how much these cost in 1991, I brought my 1st house that year and that was £33000 opposed to a car that cost £48000!
    My friend brought one in 1997 for £21000 and its still in his garage now but with a blown head gasket and at the moment and no way of fixing it as that part isn't available anymore from anyone he's tried, lotus even have some cylinder heads for them left but no gaskets, if anyone knows how to get one made, a post on here would be appreciated thx
    P.S. I believe one lotus carlton was silver, owned by the director of opel but I could be wrong

  • wormus 13 Jan 2018

    Back in ‘98 I was offered one of these as a straight swap for my my then new Fiat Coupe 20vt. I turned it down. What an idiot!

  • NotNormal 13 Jan 2018

    PH article said:
    ...themselves, either 285/6, 320, or 440 right-hand drive versions for the UK.
    I can confirm there were 286 RHD cars built, includes UK and Singapore. The split of where cars were originally sold is as below.

    Germany 415
    United Kingdom 284
    Italy 70
    France 59
    Austria 50
    Switzerland 41
    Belgium 24
    Spain 5
    Singapore 2

    VR6 Eug said:
    My friend brought one in 1997 for £21000 and its still in his garage now but with a blown head gasket and at the moment and no way of fixing it as that part isn't available anymore from anyone he's tried, lotus even have some cylinder heads for them left but no gaskets, if anyone knows how to get one made, a post on here would be appreciated thx
    All the parts to swap out the head gasket can be obtained, just not through dealerships. I suggest your friend joins the dedicated club for LC's, the Autobahnstormers whereby access to information, parts and knowledgable people is readily available.

    VR6 Eug said:
    P.S. I believe one lotus carlton was silver, owned by the director of opel but I could be wrong
    That car came out of Lotus just like all the rest in green. It was then subsiquently sprayed silver. A poor job too as last time I saw that car the engine bay and door shuts were still green.

    Edited by NotNormal on Saturday 13th January 10:12

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