Lo­tus Carl­ton

Classic Cars (UK) - - Welcome -

Re­mind your­self of a more in­no­cent time, when you’d at­tempt to out­wit your friends at Top Trumps. V12 sinks all oth­ers. Weight? Go for the slinki­est. And for max­i­mum speed, hope you’re hold­ing some­thing Ital­ian in your hand. Fast-for­ward to the present day and none of this one-up­man­ship mat­ters a jot, surely? Clas­sic car own­ers don’t pass each other on Her Majesty’s high­way with one siz­ing the other up, men­tally cal­cu­lat­ing whether they can out­gun them as they si­dle on by – or do they? There’s no doubt that facts and fig­ures are def­i­nitely in play when it comes to mak­ing our buy­ing choices – hmm, a ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial, you say. High­est power out­put for a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine, I hear. 176mph. Well, to­day we’ve gone top-speed crazy, and gath­ered five brutes that’ll al­low you rocket up to, and beyond, the 170mph marker. What’s more, we’ve re­leased the shack­les by bring­ing their own­ers to Dunsfold Park track – nor­mal road rules no longer ap­ply. It’s time to nar­row those eyes, adopt the gun­slinger stance and ready your­selves; cue En­nio Mor­ri­cone score as Lo­tus Carl­ton, Corvette ZR-1, Maserati 3200GT, As­ton Martin DB7 Van­tage and TVR Cer­bera go head-to-head to find out which of these clas­sic young guns comes out firmly on top. Say hello to Mr Carl­ton, that’s Mr Lo­tus Carl­ton. Big, bad and brute-iful. And, if you be­lieve the leg­end, also the slayer of off­spring, har­bin­ger of the apoc­a­lypse and worst of all, the last word in au­to­mo­tive ex­cess... ac­cord­ing to the Daily Mail.

While Amer­i­cans would have been bray­ing ‘yee-haw’ or Ital­ians ex­claim­ing ‘bravis­simo’ in emo­tional falsetto at hav­ing cre­ated a tech­no­log­i­cal tour-de-force, over here in Blighty the road safety bri­gade went into over­drive. News­pa­per front pages de­cried the An­glo-ger­manic cre­ation; ques­tions were raised in Par­lia­ment. Among all this tut-tut­ting and pitch­fork thrust­ing, in Ger­many – with its 155mph-limited su­per sa­loons – there was vir­tual si­lence.

Which is what I greet the Lo­tus with to­day. It ar­rived at the track just af­ter me, fill­ing both my rear-view mir­ror, and me, with awe. In the me­tal it’s a sight to be­hold. The Im­pe­rial Green paint­work – the only colour avail­able – is im­pres­sively dis­creet, bro­ken up only by the visual zing of a Lo­tus badge be­hind each front whee­larch. It’d be easy to walk by without giv­ing a sec­ond glance, but al­low the eyes to linger and the bodykit’s ag­gres­sive na­ture be­comes clear with malev­o­lent bon­net vents and wide track.

The cabin is dis­tinctly high low-rent. That is, af­ford­able saloon dressed up in leather for added Opel-ulence to take on the big boys. The en­gine fires with all the drama of its GSI 3000 base and not a hint of stiff­ened block, forged al­loy Mahle pis­tons or forged steel crank­shaft. Try to snatch a quick shift, though, and the gear­lever tells you that you might need a few more Weetabix.

Get things rolling, en­gage right foot and there’s a dis­tinct hard­en­ing of well, ev­ery­thing: noise, feel, thun­der­ous for­ward mo­men­tum. For a 1690kg big boy, it shifts like noth­ing else this size of its era – 377bhp and 419lb ft of torque sees 0-60mph ar­rive

in just 5.1sec. Twin Gar­rett T25 tur­bocharg­ers spool­ing wildly, it’s lu­di­crous and epic: 80mph passes in a flash, through to 100mph and on­ward to 135mph be­fore I run out of tar­mac. The large Group C-de­rived AP brakes – four-pot ven­ti­lated at the front, two-pot at the rear – stick or­gans firmly to my chest cav­ity just be­fore I reach a neat lit­tle line of cones. The im­pres­sive bit is just how el­e­gantly it achieves it all. No won­der owner Nigel Chris­man took out a sec­ond mort­gage to se­cure this bad boy when it was new.

Does it han­dle? Is Lo­tus based in Nor­folk? Chas­sis man Tony Shute used Macpher­son strut front and multi-link rear sus­pen­sion and au­to­matic self-lev­el­ling dampers to im­bue it with finely bal­anced man­ners. There’s huge grip avail­able but here and now we’re all about straight-line grunt and that all im­por­tant top end.

To­day just £20k will bag you an ex­am­ple of a su­per-saloon that back in the early Nineties could harry most su­per­cars. ‘It’d need a good chunk of work do­ing at that price,’ says James Wadding­ton of the Au­to­bahn­storm­ers Car Club (au­to­bahn­storm­ers.org.uk). ‘Val­ues are on the in­crease, but £30k plus will se­cure a nice car. The Lo­tus Carl­ton has a greater propen­sity to rust than the stan­dard car, so check body­work, es­pe­cially un­der the body kit, whee­larches and boot un­der the car­pet and spare wheel. The tim­ing chain has a his­tory of snap­ping, which will bend ex­haust valves; while the gear­box bell­hous­ing can crack, re­sult­ing in a clutch pedal on the floor and a me­chan­i­cal blender of clutch parts rat­tling around.’

Buy well though and you too can en­joy a piece of Lo­tus his­tory that, un­like when it was new, to­day goes firmly un­der the radar. As a Top Trump taster, it’s al­ready set our bar in­cred­i­bly high.

Out­side-lane hog­gers would have mil­lisec­onds to iden­tify the Lo­tus-ised Carl­ton by its sub­tly re­vised front bumper be­fore swerv­ing for cover

With 377 Nor­folk-bred horses, this is no glo­ri­fied rep­mo­bile – wit­ness the twin tur­bos and Lo­tus in­signia Only a sub­tle wheel badge hints at the 177mph po­ten­tial

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.