Vauxhall through the ages: the world's fastest sedan

By: Mark Higgins, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Vauxhall's super saloon shocked the world with its top speed of 283km/h - making front page news and inciting public outcry

Like our media led Supercar saga of 1972 that killed off the Phase IV GT-HO Falcon, and V8 versions of the Torana XU-1 and Charger, the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton of 1989 incited similar controversy and an outcry by British mainstream media,  as well as debate in the House of Commons when it became the world’s fastest four-door saloon car, with a top speed of 176mph (283km/h).

However, the motoring press lauded the Lotus Carlton for its Ferrari-matching performance.

Using GM’s 3.6-litre straight-six, with the addition of two Garrett T25 turbochargers and twin water-cooled intercoolers, the Lotus Carlton produced a remarkable 377bhp (282kW) and 419lb ft of torque (568Nm), giving it the headline top speed and acceleration to beat a Ferrari Testa Rossa with a zero to 100km/h time of 5.4 seconds.

Vauxhall-Lotus-Carlton-action.jpg

Lotus Engineering was responsible for developing the Carlton’s MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear set-up, and the result was a superbly assured and fast GT easily capable of taking on the best of the high-performance sedans produced by the top German car makers, then the benchmark.

Only 286 Lotus Carltons were sold in the UK, the first of which rolled off Lotus’s production line at Hethel 30 years ago. When new it cost £48,000 (A$92,000).

Even today the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton ranks among the fastest four door sedans in the world and with so few built have become highly collectible.

  

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part I - Vauxhall's first car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part II - Britain's first racecar

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part III - Britain's fastest car

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part IV - The H-Type Ten-Four

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part V - The Cresta

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VI - The XVR Concept

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VII - The Firenza HP DroopSnoot

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part VIII - Vauxhall's first hot hatch

Vauxhall Through the Ages: Part X - The Australian finale

 

Classic Australian Family Car Value Guide home page

Muscle Car Value Guide home page

Japanese Classic Car Value Guide home page

Recent auction results

Sell your car for free right here

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter for more unique car reviews and features plus see the latest unique and classic cars for sale.

Subscribe to Unique Cars magazine
- Print edition
- Digital edition