• Sep 23, 2006


When Lotus announced earlier this week that its intends to bring three new models to production over the next few years, we began day-dreaming of the myriad of possibilities that may come about.

As good as the Elise and Exige are, and as good as the Europa and new Esprit hope to be, some of Lotus' more intriguing offerings were vehicles that weren't developed from the ground up by the boys in Hethel.

Stateside, the Ford Lotus Cortina has been hailed as the original sport compact. Introduced in 1963 and sold in limited numbers, the Cortina benefited from the staple Lotus tweaks, namely suspension upgrades and lightweight materials. When compared to the Lotus Carlton, however, it seemed pedestrian, at best.

The video above is a vintage episode of Top Gear, with then host, Tiff Needell driving one of the most controversial vehicles ever to be offered in Europe. The Lotus Carlton was based on the Vauxhall sedan bearing the same name and was stuffed with a twin-turbo 3.6-liter inline six, developing 377 hp and 419 ft/lbs. of torque. All that power was channeled through a six-speed manual transmission pulled from the Corvette ZR1, sent to the rear wheels through an LSD, which then catapulted the stately sedan to 60 in 5.2 seconds. All of this before we even broke into the 90s.

Since part of Lotus' plan for the future includes helping to develop vehicles for other manufactures, we hope that the standard set by the Cortina and Carlton may inspire upcoming collaborative efforts.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      The Brits still use the beta version of the language and haven't applied all the service packs yet.
      • 8 Years Ago
      amazing car! Especially for 1990. Is there any non-exotic family sedan close to cranking out that kind of power that cheaply today? (I would consider an M5 an exotic). If anyone built anything that sick today, I'd consider buying it tomorrow.


      BTW, it is ft-lbs NOT ft/lbs (NOT foot divided by lbs, but foot multipled by lbs)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I remember when that car came out, I thought it was way ahead of its time and it was. Reminds me of the 1992-1994 Audi S4 with more horsepower.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I couldnt imagine in 1990, say you just bought a new Toyota Supra, 3 liter turbo'd inline 6.
      YOu take it out to the highway...and you get passed by a 4-door...
      Thats just plain crazy.
      Downwidya
      • 8 Years Ago
      physics, the only thing you powerslide is your own pants!
      • 8 Years Ago
      physics: "BTW, it is ft-lbs NOT ft/lbs (NOT foot divided by lbs, but foot multipled by lbs)"

      I wonder, do the British use a different notation? I bought a book published around 1961 in the UK about 2-cycle engine development. It drove me nuts because they used ft/lbs style notation throughout.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Gentlemen, it is only ft-lbs when you are turning a wrench. Engine torque is lb-ft.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Interesting story, Sam Abuelsamid. Thank you for sharing it. My graduating 10-years later, never really experienced anything as special as you have in the automotive industry.
      • 8 Years Ago
      have to agree with Green Lotus Elise.

      For non-lux/premium line sedans, the closest you are going to get is a Legacy GT or Spec B. Maybe a MazdaSpeed 6, but that doesn't have as much upward potential.

      Legacy GT or Spec B with some turbo tune-up parts from a WRX STI... You might get close to a Lotus Carlton-grade power. Aftermarket suspension, and you might get within a large vicinity of it's handling, too.

      The Legacy GT near stock has almost matched the 5.2 0-60 time, thanks to moderate weight, and AWD traction.

      But aside from an E-36 BMW M3 sedan, The Legacy is about it. that is rare company for a manual transmission, not-FWD sporting sedan, without breaking into the $40k range, or getting into heavier lux sedans that also happen to have some power.

      Considering that the Lotus Carlton was fairly limited in production, the M3-4 was only offered for two short model years, and the Legacy GT's very small sales numbers, they are all pretty rare.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #2 nice spam.

      any wanker can power-slide a 377hp car around like that.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice video amd amazing car/driver

      http://www.auto-power-girl.com/
      • 8 Years Ago
      wots the name of the music just before the comedian comes on?
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