Smooth Criminal – Lotus Carlton

Vauxhall-Lotus-Carlton-BannerWords by James Waddington

Logo for Issue 8

The Lotus Carlton is a very strange phenomenon as it held the crown of being the fastest production saloon car for a number of years (although some would say that the Alpina B10 BiTurbo also lays claim to that accolade) and it’s one of those cars that people instantly recognise and point at or stand in the street almost shell-shocked.

Since the Lotus Carltons I’ve owned have all been weekend toys, I was always excited to get in the car and drive. The novelty of the performance and specifically the warp-like acceleration never got tiresome so I invariably would end up spending the first five minutes in a euphoric state giggling like an idiot as I obliterated just about anything I came across. In most cars, other vehicles on the road are obstacles, in the Lotus, they are targets to be overtaken!

I love the fact that there is nothing complicated about the car, you unlock it, get in, turn the key in the ignition and off you go although true care for the car would necessitate letting it warm up before you set off and let it rest on tick-over before switching off, especially if you have had a spirited drive…

Vauxhall-Lotus-Carlton-1990-1992-Photo-12Lotus Carlton prices have definitely strengthened over the last few years with the mint cars being advertised for very strong money, usually well over £25,000. The bottom end of the market tends to see the poorer cars appearing but there is no such thing as a cheap Lotus Carlton, simply put, if it’s cheap it will need work doing to it. These days the cars advertised for sale tend to be unloved heaps or minters and not much in between and I would advise people who are considering buying one to see and drive a few before making any decisions. I do believe though, despite parts sourcing becoming more of an issue, that the prices will continue to strengthen. Full owners experience can be found in the magazine.

Why buy one?

★Huge power for the era and still very fast by todays standards.
★Real challenge to drive well, it will not get boring and predictable over time.
★Few produced, most good examples are now sitting in collections and being dry run only.

Full list of reasons to buy can be found in the magazine.

Model History

Full production history of the car can be found in the magazine.

Vauxhall-Lotus-Carlton-1990-1992-Photo-08Ideal Specification

Full analysis and advice of the ideal specification can be found in the magazine.

Buying one

Prices start at around £15,000 and go up to £50,000 for the low mileage examples. The huge range in prices is a good indicator that this car is already seen by some as a collectors car, as the best examples are selling for over three times the amount that cars in good condition command. Full valuation details and examples on the market found in the magazine.

Parts Analysis

The car utilises quite a large number of bespoke parts that can be very expensive to replace and may not be available anymore. Areas to focus on in particular are the clutch, exhaust, suspension and exhaust components. Full breakdown of prices can be found in the magazine.

Buying Checkpoints

A fundamentally strong engine unit, however the timing chains should be inspected thoroughly. Any whine or chain rattle should be approached with extreme caution. This is a highly tuned engine, so avoid modified cars with remaps as this puts more stress on the engine components and leads to a greater chance of serious failure. Full breakdown of buyers checkpoints for engine, clutch, gearbox, steering, suspension, brakes, wheels, tyres and servicing schedule can be found in the magazine.

To view an example full feature article click here.

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