You know that huge range of high horsepower sedan options that you have access to today? That didn’t really exist in the 1980s; your options were quite a bit more limited, and the BMW M-series typically tended to surface as the most logical choice.
But then in 1989, Lotus took an unsuspecting Vauxhall sedan – the Carlton (a.k.a. Opel Omega) – and turned 440 examples into ballistic cruise missiles. The resulting Vauxhall Lotus Carlton is celebrating 25 years in 2015.
The first order of business in creating the Lotus Carlton – the fastest production sedan in the world in its day – was a displacement increase for the stock inline-6, from 3.0 liters to 3.6 liters. Twin-turbochargers and an intercooler system were fitted, but the cylinder head remained mostly unchanged. Nevertheless, power grew to an unholy 382 horses.
As a result of these and other tweaks, the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton could reach a 176 mph top speed, and sprint to 60 in just under 5 seconds. The car represented a meaningful joint-venture between its two parent marques, and was produced through 1994. The cost was 48,000 GBP at the time, or about $160,000 US today, as hard as that is to swallow.
Since its inception and premature laying to rest, the Lotus Carlton has been succeeded by a long line of Vauxhall performance sedans. But certainly, each owes a debt of gratitude to the original, groundbreaking Vauxhall Lotus Carlton.