• Incredible condition throughout • Just 82k on the clock • Extensive history file
What would happen if Vauxhall teamed up with Lotus and in the process, strapped two T25 turbos to a Carlton? The world needed a 377bhp Vauxhall Carlton about as much as a spaniel needs a biplane. It was an answer to a question nobody asked. But need isn’t the thing to focus on here. Rather than ponder the reasoning behind it, let’s instead celebrate it. It was a tour de force of engineering, it was a shining example of what could be done when companies explored ‘what if?’ rather than ‘why?’. It’s a legend by virtue of just… existing. There have been many cars conjured up in the fires of similar madness, but very few make it past a sketch and a hastily written press release. Some might make it to full-scale concept, but barely any make it into production. The Lotus Carlton did, though.
And it ruffled feathers by doing so. There’s the story of the car being brought up in the Houses of Parliament, where MPs discussed why we needed a 170mph Carlton. Needless to say, MPs were not the key demographic. The Daily Mail ranted about it, but then the Daily Mail will rant about anything, so that’s not saying much. The Police hated it too. Well, not it, more one of them. Namely 40RA. The ram-raiding Carlton used by thieves to successfully evade capture. Sadly, 40 RA was later found in a canal. Anticlimactically, the plate is now on a Hyundai Kona EV. So instead, how about K853ABV? The Lotus Carlton we are offering for auction here.
Currently part of a private collection, this 1993 Lotus Carlton - number 808 - has led an interesting life. The early days were pretty standard, and there is paperwork to back up the regular servicing and maintenance during this period. Later, from about 2000 on, the car was subjected to all manner of works to keep it in tip-top condition. Charge coolers were repaired, new brakes, a new clutch and clutch arm, new suspension and bushes and of course, the regular servicing and other works such as alignment, tyres and regular MOTs.
The car changed hands a number of times over the years, with each owner being as keen as the last to ensure the car was looked after in a manner befitting such a machine. In 2020, because the car was such a wonderful example, it was bought by a company specialising in competitions. We’re sure you’ve seen the like; pay a tenner, be entered into the draw to win. Well, this company had the car checked, serviced and had a new Yuasa battery fitted before raffling the car off. However, the winning owner was evidently a bit overwhelmed by this beast, and thus it ended up with the current owner as part of his dry-store collection.
With a few cars in his collection, the current owner has elected to let the Carlton go. And in doing so, he is presenting you with a rare opportunity. This car has been well looked after, it’s in great condition and it has covered a mere 82k. If you want one of these automotive legends, there can be few as attractive as this.
As mentioned above, there is a thick history file included with this Lotus Carlton. Firstly, there is the original book pack within which there is an owner’s manual and of course, a fully-stamped service record. There are also three keys with the car, which is a very rare find indeed.
There is then a history file in which there are receipts for all manner of work. Regular servicing is covered, as are past MOTs, all of which are here. The current MOT (passed with no advisories) is in place until the 12th November 2021. There is a V5 present, too.
Looking through the paperwork, the battery was replaced in 2020 for a Yuasa 300 series, the front and rear brake discs were replaced, and the terminal for the coolant level sensor was repaired (common fault on these).
In 2011, we can see the car was with Steve Williams Sports Cars. Various bodywork repairs were carried out, such as repainting the front and rear bumpers along with the rear wing. Some rust repair was carried out too. And given the condition of the car, it was clearly done to a good standard.
We’re also told that the car has been treated on the underside, including new bushes, track rods and so on. And everything has been painted and protected. While we don’t have the paperwork to support this, do look at the pictures, as they serve to back this up. It’s very clean and solid under there.
With the exception of a more modern head unit and a TIMS mechanical boost gauge in place of the clock, this Lotus Carlton is all original inside, and it’s all in great condition. The black leather trim has been well cared for. There are some age-related creases, as one would expect from leather, but there is no heavy wear nor any rips. The rear seats look to have been barely used.
The dash is present, correct and in good condition. No cracks, no damage. All the buttons and switches are in good order and all function, even the air-con blows ice cold. The dash binnacle is bright and clear, and there are no warning lights on. The all-important Lotus steering wheel is in great shape, too.
All four door cards are in great condition. No stains within the alcantara, no damage to the carpeted lower halves. The wood veneer is all excellent, too. Furthermore, the latches and strikers are all good, and each door still has the black plastic trim in place.
The headlining is in great condition, with no sagging nor any stains. Sunroof works as it should, as do all the lights. While we’re in the upper half, all the glass is in good condition with no scratches, and all the window rubbers are excellent.
Finally, the boot is dry and the carpets are in good order. Lifting the carpets, there is an original spare, the tool kit is still in place and the lower wells of the boot are solid with no sign of any serious corrosion.
Dry stored under a bespoke cover, this Lotus Carlton simply doesn’t get presented with the chance to accrue any damage! The body is in great condition, with no rust or corrosion of any sort to be observed. The panel gaps are all true and original, and all the trim and body kit fit well.
The paint has a rich, deep shine and is free from any severe swirl marks. It’s glossy and clear across the car. It has had paintwork in the past, but it has obviously been done to an exceptional standard. It’s very hard to fault. That said, it is nearly thirty years old, so there is the odd imperfection. A chip around the fuel filler, and a chip on one of the kick plate/sill areas. But honestly, that’s about it.
The staggered alloy wheels have been refurbished and as such, are as new. They all wear recent Falken rubber. There are centre caps present, but they are blank silver items, not the Lotus ones fitted when new.
It is quite simply a stunning car. The paint, the wheels, the details like the rubbers, the perfect lights, the mint body kit - it all adds up to one hell of a package. This is arguably one of the best Lotus Carltons out there, make no mistake.
With such low mileage and such an impressive history file, this Lotus Carlton is in rude health. On the day we took the pictures it performed flawlessly, pulling strong and hard through the gears without so much as a hint of complaint. A lot of older performance cars can feel slow by modern standards, but not this. It is still, twenty-eight years on, a powerhouse of a machine. Build the revs up, watch the TIM boost gauge build and then all hell breaks loose. It is a remarkably powerful, fast, machine. But one you feel a part of. This is driver and machine. No computers, nothing to provide heroics. It’s you, a straight six, two T25s and a lot of power. It’s a muscle car.
The six-speed manual transmission is slick, and the clutch, while weighty compared to a modern one, is easy to operate. The steering is sharp and impressively direct for such a big car. It’s no Caterham, but it’s far more direct and engaging than you might think.
The brakes are great, and do a grand job of keeping the car in check. The Falken rubber gives a pleasing sense of security as you push into bends. As does the suspension, which on inspection appears to be recent. There are no bumps, no rattles, no clunks. The big Vauxhall swallows up the road without breaking a sweat. The car just feels tight and fresh, and not at all tired. Driving it is, make no mistake, quite the addictive experience.
Low miles, great condition, plenty of history and legendary status? Why wouldn’t you want this? It’s a glorious example of one of those cars that will forever be celebrated. It’s a motoring icon, the kind of car that people flock to. They seldom come up for sale, and when they do, they’re not often as well presented as this. Plus, prices are only going way, so if you buy one now, you’re never going to lose on it. But it’s not just about the investment angle. Buy it so you can experience it. There are few cars as exciting, or as visceral as the Lotus Carlton. And while it might be nearly thirty years old, it still packs a hell of a punch. Bid. Own a legend. You won’t regret it.
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