1990 Lotus Carlton: GM's Answer to the Ford Sierra Cosworth
It might not be a car you fantasize about, or have even heard of, but the 1990 Lotus Carlton represents a product of free-range automotive engineering and embodies the “let’s build the craziest car we can” mantra. Back in the late ’80s, the Ford Sierra Cosworth and BMW M5 epitomized the ideals of pure performance, so much so that General Motors Europe needed a weapon to combat these hot saloons. The company turned to its newly acquired British marque, Lotus Cars, for the answer. GM earmarked its mid-size Vauxhall Carlton (Opel Omega) to go under the knife to boost its pedigree; not exactly a short order. But Lotus got down to work, starting first with the motor. The company bored the straight-six engine out to 3.6 liters, reinforced the block and crankshaft, revised the suspension, and fitted two Garrett T25 turbochargers to boost power output up to an astonishing 377hp and 419 lb.-ft. of torque. PHOTOS: See More of the 1990 Lotus Carlton Bear in mind that at the time, this performance matched or exceeded that of the contemporary C4 Corvette, which is fitting given that Lotus borrowed the six-speed manual transmission from underneath the ‘Vette. This allowed for a 0-60mph sprint of just 5.4 seconds, and a stratospheric top speed of 176mph – making it the fastest four-door saloon on sale in the UK. But given its enormous grunt, the Lotus Carlton doesn’t exactly scream for attention. Love it or hate it, the car’s reserved body kit included a functional rear spoiler, improved cooling ducts on the hood and bumper, side skirts, and pumped-up wheel arches. Wheels came in the form of monoblock alloys. RELATED: See Photos of the 1971 Lotus Esprit S1
Production was slated from 1990 to 1994, however the run was ceased early in 1992 after sales began to wan in the wake of an early ’90s recession. Lotus produced only 440 Carlton super saloons, and no wonder. These cars retailed for about $67,000 back when they were new.
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