The late 80s and the early 90s were a time of realizations in the automotive industry. It’s as if everyone woke up at the same time, and thought: “With our experience (however limited) in motor sports, we can make insanely powerful, street-legal cars and people will pay for the privilege to drive them!” The 1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton is an prime example of this line of thinking. The result of exciting cooperation through several GM properties around the globe, the Lotus Carlton was a piece of work. This seemingly sedate four-door family sedan only had the Lotus badge and aggressive styling to warn passing Porsches, Ferraris and others that they could potentially get their doors blown off!
Lotus took charge of the motorization of the Carlton, and it showed: this road monster was powered by an straight-six, 3.6-liter 24V engine, complemented with twin Garrett turbochargers. The Lotus Carlton, 950 of which were made, boasted 377 horsepower, a eye-watering 176 miles per hour top speed and of course, a chest-crushing 5 second 0-60 acceleration time. This car may have looked like an ordinary, if well-designed and stylish sedan, but it had the heart of a racer!
Power was driven to the rear wheel through a six-speed ZF manual gearbox, borrowed from Chevrolet’s ZR1 Corvette, while Holden from Australia contributed the necessarily rugged rear differential. Although very few of the 1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton were ever produced (only 950 in total), this car captured the imagination of the public as an unassuming, discreet sedan that could give a good walloping to just about everything on the road.