David Brown’s twin-tur­bocharged Lo­tus Carl­ton tourer is a one-off cus­tom build fol­low­ing many years he’s spent play­ing with Vauxhall’s 377bhp su­per sa­loon…

Performance Vauxhall - - CONTENTS - WORDS Dan Furr PHO­TOS Dan Sher­wood

David Brown’s unique Lo­tus Carl­ton tourer.

Vis­i­tors to the last Vauxhall Bed­ford Opel As­so­ci­a­tion (VBOA) Na­tional Rally to be held at Billing Aquadrome will re­mem­ber the gor­geous Im­pe­rial Green Carl­ton es­tate driven to the event by se­rial Grif­fin mod­i­fier, David Brown. Fresh from its long jour­ney all the way from the elec­tri­cian’s home near Ed­in­burgh, the cus­tom cargo car­rier was wear­ing a mod­i­fied Lo­tus Carl­ton body kit, the leg­endary model’s wheels and the bulk of its in­te­rior. The wicked wagon was fin­ished to such a high stan­dard it would have con­vinced those less fa­mil­iar with Vauxhall’s out­put they were look­ing at a gen­uine Lo­tus Carl­ton tourer un­til David opened the bon­net to re­veal a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated three-litre in­line-six.

“The car was orig­i­nally a red two- litre Di­a­mond es­tate on a K-plate. I bought it in as a non-run­ner fully in­tend­ing to turn it into the Lo­tus Carl­ton tourer Vauxhall never made. I’d played about with Carl­ton es­tates in the past, fit­ting a gen­uine Lo­tus body kit to a blue three-litre Di­a­mond es­tate, but in truth, that was lit­tle more than a styling ex­er­cise. The project based on the red car was in­tended to be a chal­lenge to my­self, one which would test ev­ery­thing I’ve learned from own­ing Carl­tons over the years,” he says.

David has owned four gen­uine Lo­tus Carl­tons to date. He bought his first Type 104 (the of­fi­cial Lo­tus des­ig­na­tion for the model) back in 2001. From that point on­wards, he had the good sense to stock­pile ev­ery gen­uine Lo­tus Carl­ton spare he could lay his hands on, from badges to bumpers, wheels to win­dow rub­bers. Con­trary to the lofty prices

these cars fetch to­day, they weren’t worth a huge amount of money back then, which means he built up an im­pres­sive col­lec­tion of parts with­out break­ing the bank.

“I’ve never un­der­stood why Vauxhall didn’t put a Lo­tus Carl­ton tourer into pro­duc­tion,” he ad­mits. In to­day’s world of es­tate cars be­ing dressed in ag­gres­sive body kits and be­ing pow­ered by en­gines pro­duc­ing big bhp (hello to all you Audi RS6 own­ers), the idea of a twin­tur­bocharged load lug­ger doesn’t seem par­tic­u­larly un­usual. More­over, it’s dif­fi­cult to ar­gue against the case for a Type 104 tourer when the car David has cre­ated looks so good. Don’t be fooled into thinking this Im­pe­rial Green gi­ant’s Lo­tus DNA is only skin deep, though.

mat­ter of time

He al­ways had his heart set on fit­ting the Lo­tus Carl­ton’s 377bhp twin­tur­bocharged C36GET in­line-six and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing ZF six-speed man­ual gear­box (the same cog cruncher fit­ted to the Corvette ZR-1, ac­com­pa­nied by a Holden Com­modore V8 lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial when used in the hard­hit­ting Vauxhall), but with sale prices rock­et­ing sky­ward and a drought when it comes to find­ing own­ers pre­pared to part with

their spare en­gines, he de­cided a nat­u­rally as­pi­rated Carl­ton GSi3000 24-valve three-litre pow­er­plant would en­able him to get some use out of the car af­ter the many hours spent fit­ting Lo­tus leather, body­work and a sea of chas­sis com­po­nents.

“I wanted to use a leatherequipped Di­a­mond as the plat­form for the project so I could re­tain the orig­i­nal rear bench, which is a close match for the Lo­tus Carl­ton’s front seats,” con­tin­ues David. In­deed, the su­per-sump­tu­ous Di­a­mond leather looks great against the Con­nolly hide up front. “Other than the body shell and the re­tained back seats, there re­ally isn’t very much Di­a­mond left!” he laughs.

He’s not fib­bing. Vir­tu­ally ev­ery part which could be re­placed by up­rated Lo­tus Carl­ton com­po­nen­try has been ditched. Dam­pers, coil

“other than the BodY shell and BacK seats, there re­allY isn’t much di­a­mond left!”

springs, brakes, dif­fer­en­tial, al­loys. Even the ex­haust and cat­alytic con­vert­ers are Lo­tus Carl­ton parts! Padded dash trim, the steer­ing wheel, sill cov­ers, sub­frames. No mat­ter the Type 104 com­po­nent you care to name, the like­li­hood is David has squeezed it into place.

miX and match

“All Carl­tons share the same un­der­pin­nings,” he re­marks. “There are dif­fer­ences be­tween the sub­frames of 12-valve and 24-valve mod­els due to changes in en­gine mounts, but other than hav­ing to take this trait into ac­count, swap­ping me­chan­i­cal equip­ment be­tween Carl­tons is a fairly straight­for­ward process,” he says, ac­knowl­edg­ing he’d laid the ground­work for the C36GET swap by fit­ting the three-litre en­gine. Now all he needed to do was iden­tify a will­ing donor!

He struck lucky when a com­plete Lo­tus Carl­ton en­gine, gear­box and sub­frame pack­age even­tu­ally pre­sented it­self as avail­able for pur­chase. De­liv­ered to his Scot­tish res­i­dence on a pal­let, the parts were promptly sep­a­rated be­fore the en­gine was sent away for a com­plete re­build, in­clud­ing the fit­ting of up­rated tim­ing chains. Vauxhall and Opel mod­i­fy­ing spe­cial­ist, A&M Con­ver­sions in Dee­side, was asked to man­age the over­haul of the twin Garrett T25 tur­bocharg­ers, which were seized due to be­ing out of ac­tion for so long.

“A&M boss, An­to­nio Lom­mano, re­turned the tur­bos as hy­brid units com­plete with 360° thrust

bear­ings, of­fer­ing im­proved per­for­mance over stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion,” con­firms David. A&M’s work didn’t end there, though. “Af­ter the re­built en­gine was fit­ted, An­to­nio spent a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time sort­ing the ig­ni­tion, fu­elling and throt­tle ac­tion. He also mod­i­fied the sump to im­prove the tur­bocharger oil re­turn feed. The in­let was ma­chined, high-im­ped­ance in­jec­tors were fit­ted and af­ter much fine tun­ing, the 3.6-litre Lo­tus lump was fi­nally up and run­ning.”

help­ing hand

Among other jobs, An­to­nio was also called upon to sort uniden­ti­fied wiring and elec­tri­cal grem­lins, fit a heavy duty clutch and of­fer David ad­vice when­ever he found him­self stumped while work­ing on the car north of the bor­der. “The big­gest chal­lenge was the phys­i­cal dis­tance be­tween us,” rea­sons the proud Scot. “I spent a lot of time driv­ing back­wards and for­wards to Dee­side with the car on a trailer! Of course, do­ing so was com­pletely worth­while, and it goes with­out say­ing I’m thrilled with the as­sis­tance and re­as­sur­ance An­to­nio has pro­vided me with through­out the build,” he stresses. There was also the nail-bit­ing first turn of the key to con­cern him­self with. “I was wor­ried the Type 104 Motronic ECU I’d sourced wouldn’t fire up af­ter be­ing out of ac­tion for years. It’s a very dif­fi­cult part to find and re­place. I was a wreck in the lead up to the car spring­ing into life. I felt as though I was ner­vously await­ing the birth of a baby!”

Pro­duc­ing a con­ser­va­tive 330bhp and 330lb/ft torque at 85% throt­tle, this dev­as­tat­ingly cool Di­a­mond shifts rapidly, but David is aware he needs to ex­er­cise re­straint dur­ing the first five hun­dred miles of ‘bed­ding in’. The car will re­turn to A&M for fur­ther fet­tling there­after. “I’m go­ing to com­mis­sion GAZ to make an ap­pli­ca­tion-spe­cific set of dam­pers for my car,” he says, point­ing out the con­tin­ued use of Di­a­mond es­tate rear shocks, al­beit with Lo­tus Carl­ton springs in place. He’s also talk­ing to the DVLA about of­fi­cially reg­is­ter­ing the car as a Lo­tus Carl­ton Tourer. And as if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, he’s started to map out his next Carl­ton-based build. “I want to as­sem­ble another Lo­tus-looker, but this time I’m keen on the idea of pow­er­ing it with a three-litre in­li­ne­six, a sin­gle Garrett GT35 tur­bocharger and DTA stand­alone en­gine man­age­ment. An­to­nio will be in­volved with the build. I can’t wait for the two of us to get stuck in!”

Pro­duc­ing what he sees as a miss­ing piece of Vauxhall’s back cat­a­logue, David has com­bined power, style and prac­ti­cal­ity in a pris­tine per­for­mance pack­age. With on­go­ing help from A&M Con­ver­sions, we have no doubt this twin­tur­bocharged tourer will con­tinue to go from strength to strength. Look out for it at forth­com­ing Griffinthemed shows. Be­lieve us when we say you won’t be dis­ap­pointed!

“an­to­nio spent a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time sort­ing the ig­ni­tion, fu­elling and throt­tle ac­tion”

Twin Lo­tus Carl­ton head units are wait­ing in the wings Ev­ery Lo­tus Carl­ton part which can be fit­ted to the es­tate has been fit­ted to the es­tate! A sat­is­fy­ing sight for any driver Irm­scher Omega B tail­gate spoiler is a good match to Lo­tus Carl­ton body trim

a&m con­ver­sions pro­vided twin Garrett T25 hy­brid tur­bocharg­ers

David’s car looks ev­ery bit a fac­tory Lo­tus Carl­ton cargo car­rier

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