The Silverstone Classic Sale 2017

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1991 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton. 4,500 miles from new

Lot No.: 410

Registration: H772 DUF
Chassis Number: SCC000019L1250674
Engine Number: 01005920
Number of cylinders: 6
CC: 3615cc
Year of Manufacture: 1991
Sold for (£): 72,000

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 demolishing the opposition. Oddly, it wasn't its huge performance or masculine good looks that created the most fuss but the fact that the Daily Mail was so outraged by its stated top speed of 176mph, that it declared it too fast for British roads. Of course, the Lotus Carlton - or Type 104 to Lotus aficionados - was nothing of the sort, and 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. 

Performance was brisk, to say the least. 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. 

Based on a civilised modern saloon car, the Lotus Carlton was tractable, light and well-mannered in town traffic, however, whilst those 377 horses were quite comfortable in the Dressage Ring, given an open gate, they were quickly off to the Cross Country Course.

Supplied new by Moorland Motors of Blackpool in August 1991 and finished in the obligatory Imperial Green, this immaculate Lotus Carlton is car Number 28 out of a limited production of 284 UK, right-hand drive models and has covered a warranted 4,500 miles from new.

After a period in dry storage, this special and possibly unique car has been carefully recommissioned to prepare it for sale. All the fluids including gearbox, coolant, power steering etc. have been replaced and an invoice for this work totalling £1,900 is in the car's history file. We would recommend that the original tyres, although in excellent condition, are replaced before this ballistic Carlton is fully extended

Alongside the normal documentation, it comes with its original book pack and the numbered Lotus Carlton book that was presented to each owner at the time of sale. The condition of this lovely car is commensurate with its 4,500 miles and can be gleaned from a close inspection of the accompanying photographs.

The product of the finest motorsport brains of the decade, these cars are still seriously quick in modern terms, and the opportunity to acquire, what may be the lowest mileage example left, is not to be missed.