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The Lotus Carlton: From Family Sedan to High-Performance Legend, Rediscovered

The Lotus Carlton
The Lotus Carlton

Lotus has carved a niche for itself with its focus on lightweight agility and exhilarating track performance. Their recent commitment to electric vehicles, evident in the Evija hypercar and Eletre SUV, showcases their continued pursuit of cutting-edge technology.

However, a surprising detour from their usual offerings can be found in their past. This unexpected chapter unfolded in the early 1990s, during a period when General Motors held ownership of both Lotus and its European subsidiaries, Opel and Vauxhall.

This unique situation presented an opportunity for collaboration that would yield a truly extraordinary outcome: the Lotus Carlton. This four-door sedan stood in stark contrast to the lightweight champions Lotus was known for.

Yet, the Carlton defied expectations by packing a monstrous punch under its hood. This transformation from a typical family car into a powerful sleeper car cemented Carlton’s place as one of the most outrageous sedans of the era.

A surprising powerhouse emerged from a collaboration between Lotus and Opel in the form of the Lotus Carlton. This unexpected muscle car disguised itself as a sedan, but under the hood resided a twin-turbocharged 3.6-liter inline-six engine.

While the 0-60 mph sprint time of 5.1 seconds wasn’t quite enough to dethrone the Corvette ZR-1, it left all other performance sedans, including the BMW M5 E34 and Mercedes-Benz 500E, in the dust.

The Lotus Carlton

The Lotus Carlton (IMSTOKZE/YouTube)

The Carlton’s top speed was equally awe-inspiring. Clocking in at 176 mph, it defied the trend of electronically limited speeds common among high-performance sedans of that time.

The Lotus only fell a mere 4 mph short of the mighty Corvette ZR-1. This outrageous performance sparked controversy, with the Daily Mail and the Association of Chief Police Officers launching a campaign to have the car banned in the UK.

Considering its harsh treatment, the Carlton’s current state is a mixed bag. While it hasn’t completely disintegrated, the extensive damage is undeniable. A significant repair job is a must, and a full restoration might even be necessary to bring this forgotten machine back to life.

Adding another layer to the mystery, the car’s owner seems none too pleased with the sudden online interest surrounding their neglected Carlton. With this unexpected public attention, the future of this once-proud Lotus remains shrouded in uncertainty.

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