Vauxhall’s Lotus Carlton – The Fire Breathing Griffin

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Vauxhall’s ‘middle management’ Lotus Carlton celebrates its 30th anniversary this year and the Ferrari-matching fire breathing ‘Griffin’ looks as sharp as ever.

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Quicker than the average Ferrari Testarossa, Vauxhall’s Lotus Carlton arrived 70 years after the company’s top brass were being lauded for bringing the 100mph 30-98 to market.

It was in 1989 that Paul Tosch, Vauxhall’s then Chairman and MD, was thrown on the defensive with the mainstream press when the Lotus Carlton became the world’s fastest four-door saloon car, with an eye-watering top speed of 176mph.

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Straight Six

Lotus utilised Opel’s standard 3.0 (used in the GSi), upgraded it to a 3,615-litre straight-six, then attached two Garrett T25 turbochargers and twin water-cooled intercoolers, the Lotus Carlton produced a staggering 377bhp and 419lb ft of torque, giving it its headline top speed (later found to be conservative) and acceleration to beat the Italian stallions.

Lotus Engineering was responsible for developing the LC’s MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear set-up, and the result was a superbly assured and blindingly fast GT of the highest order.

Vauxhall Carlton

Imperial Green

Dressed in a shade of green called Imperial Green (similar to British Racing Green), only 286 Lotus Carltons were sold in the UK, the first of which rolled off Lotus’s production line at Hethel some 30 years previously, costing the affluent Filofax owner around £48,000.

Nowadays the Lotus ‘missile’ Carlton is a pretty rare sighting, in fact so rare the last time these firecrackers were counted there was approximately 75 left in existence, with recent auction sales reporting prices in the region of £125,000 being paid for high-quality units.

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton Interior

You can rest assured the classic Lotus Carlton has got an outstanding set of figures and performance to back its sky-scraping price up, which at the time, even with the period ‘turbo lag’, could dismantle its roadside rivals with the blip of even the lightest right foot.

Technical Data:

Body: 4-door saloon
Engine: 6 cylinders in-line, twin-turbocharged
Engine Capacity: 3,615cc
Top Speed: 176mph
0-62mph: 5.4 seconds
Fuel Consumption: 17.5-35mpg


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