While collectors on this side of the Atlantic were busy not driving the Buick GNXs, but instead storing them in hopes of cashing in for a retirement fund, collectors back in Europe were busy driving a super sedan that could keep up with the supercars of the day. We’re talking about the Lotus Carlton, which at its root was also a GM vehicle — a very special, souped-up GM vehicle turned into nothing short of a supercar fighter by Lotus.
In about a month, collectors — who perhaps had a poster of this car on their bedroom walls 25 years ago — will get an opportunity to bid on a Carlton that might not have been shrink-wrapped but was driven very sparingly and now shows a claimed 4,500 miles on the clock.
But first, a little history and a lot of specs: The Lotus Carlton was based on the Vauxhall Carlton — the U.K. version of the Opel Omega — but equipped with a Lotus-tuned turbocharged and intercooled 3.6-liter engine straight-six engine featuring plenty of tricks from Lotus’ deep engineering expertise, including a 24-valve cylinder head from the Lotus GSi, Lotus-built connecting rods and a new forged steel crankshaft. A six-speed transmission borrowed from the Corvette ZR-1 was the only transmission that could cope with the ridiculous amounts of torque — this concoction produced an eye-watering 377 hp and 419 lb-ft of torque.
The Carlton’s abilities were matched only by a small group of supercars of the time.
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The Carlton could make the sprint from 0-60 in 5.0 seconds flat when it was in a hurry and could reach a top speed of 176 mph, all while giving the outside world few hints about its abilities. It was the ultimate Q-ship of its day, even scoring second after a Ferrari F40 in the 0-100-0 test by Autocar magazine, which it completed in 17 seconds.
The right-hand drive Vauxhall Lotus Carlton that Silverstone will offer in a few weeks was sold new by Moorland Motors of Blackpool in August 1991, and it’s reported to be car number 28 out of a total U.K. allotment of 284 cars. The sedan, finished in Imperial Green, retired to dry storage relatively early but has been recommissioned for the upcoming auction, receiving new gearbox, coolant and power-steering fluids. The recent recommissioning work reportedly totaled 1,900 pounds sterling, but the tires were not among the items swapped out — which is not a bad thing, per se, as the new owner will likely want to keep them.
The interior of the Carlton offered well bolstered seats, which was probably a good idea.
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Silverstone estimates that this Carlton will fetch between 60,000 and 65,000 pounds sterling on auction day, which translates to approximately $78,000 to $85,000. The phenomenon of delivery-mileaged Lotus Carltons is rare, though this example can be comfortably called low-mileaged rather than pickled since new. This leaves some room for driving it without too much remorse because the premium that the auction house expects for its freshness is not 300 percent the value of a used Carlton. High-mileage examples can trade hands for about half the top estimate, so we’re expecting that its new owner will probably treat it gently.
Wherever the final bid falls, the trend of ’90s supercars coming out of hibernation is certainly a thing — the kids of the 1980s and 1990s are finally buying the hero cars of their youth.
Ultimate ’90s Q-ship: Low-mile Lotus Carlton heads to auction have 691 words, post on autoweek.com at 2017-07-03 19:50:35. This is cached page on Auto Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.