1990 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

From an automaker best known for its elfin racers and commitment to lightness, the large Carlton seems a bizarre vehicle to emerge wearing a Lotus badge. An executive sedan tweaked within an inch of its life, Lotus’ engineering expertise allowed the Lotus Carlton to be the fastest sedan in the world for a period of time. Born at a time when General Motors owned both Lotus and Vauxhall/Opel, the idea was to build a halo car wearing the Lotus badge to generate some attention to the brand. By boring out and twin-turbocharging the Vauxhall inline six, the 377 horsepower Carlton got a bit too much attention — the 180 mph-capable sedan became so wildly controversial in Britain that law enforcement sometimes spoke of banning it from the road. Perhaps the police were simply jealous, as no cruiser in the UK could catch a Carlton on a clear motorway. Lest you think that it’s merely an unruly straight-line ruffian, Lotus did also tune the suspension. It’s no Elise, but you’d be surprised what the big Carlton is capable of.

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