The Silverstone Classic Sale 2017

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1991 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Lot No.: 446

Registration: H634 WHH
Chassis Number: SCC000019L1249679
Engine Number: 1007110
Number of cylinders: 6
CC: 3615
Year of Manufacture: 1991
Estimate (£): 22,000 - 26,000
(+buyer’s premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%)

The Lotus Carlton is a legend and the kind of car that comes along once in a generation.  At a time when really fast four-door saloons were the preserve of BMW and Mercedes, this Vauxhall (Opel) derived super-saloon arrived on the scene in 1990 demolishing the opposition. Although it shared its major components with a mainstream executive car, its level of development across every aspect of automotive dynamics had resulted in a truly special performance car.

It was powered by a twin-turbo version of the venerable straight-six used in the Senator, which developed a remarkable 377bhp. To achieve that figure, Lotus had put a lot of work into the 3.6-litre power unit, uprating and strengthening the bottom end, porting the 24-valve cylinder head (from the Carlton GSI), and fitting forged 'slipper pistons' made by Mahle atop new Lotus-designed connecting rods tied to a counterweighted, forged steel crankshaft. The gearbox was the same six-speeder used in the Corvette ZR-1, the only transmission in GM's parts bin, capable of handling the car's monster torque.  AP Group-C derived brakes - four-pot calipers with 330mm ventilated discs at the front and two-pot at the rear – sat behind specially developed Goodyear tyres. 

Based on a civilised modern saloon car, the Lotus Carlton was tractable, light and well-mannered in town traffic.  However, when required, performance was nothing short of epic - 0-60mph came up in 5.0 seconds, 0-100 was dispatched in 11.1 seconds, and in 1992 Autocar Magazine recorded a time of 17.0 seconds for their 0-100-0 challenge, 2nd best behind an F40; however, it's the car's maximum speed of 176mph that will always be quoted by its fans. 

The lovely Carlton presented here was supplied new through SMT Vauxhall of Edinburgh in February 1991 finished in the obligatory Imperial Green. It's car Number 0030 out of a limited production of 284 UK, right-hand drive models and has covered a warranted 73,000 miles from new.

Our vendor, who has many years of experience in the automotive industry, searched high and low to locate and purchase the best example he could find.  This unmolested and well cared-for car fitted the bill perfectly, being particularly strong in areas of known weakness for this model.  It comes with a comprehensive service history and has been serviced routinely from 9,088 miles to 54,204 miles at either ‘Monorep Ltd.’ of Southall or ‘Frost’s (Cars) Ltd.’ of Shoreham-by-Sea, both Lotus Carlton supplying dealerships and Lotus technical centres, plus three more services from independent garages up to date.  

It is a completely standard car, which performs as well as you’d expect, having been treated in recent times to a new clutch with related auxiliaries and a new exhaust.  There are numerous receipts in the history file for maintenance and parts, and the car comes with its original numbered Lotus Carlton book (presented to each owner at the time of sale), its Maintenance Programme, build records and a genuine Workshop Manual.

The product of the finest motorsport brains of the decade, these cars are still seriously quick even by today’s standards, and the opportunity to acquire such a genuine and well-maintained example of this modern classic is surely not to be missed.