Remember the Lotus Carlton? You know, that fire-breathing, 377 bhp, 419 lb-ft, 179 mph monster of a machine? The same one that had lawmakers brimming with rage and coppers demanding its removal from public roads? Well, thanks to the boundless wonder of the World Wide Web, what we’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon is… not the Lotus Carlton. It is, however, the next best thing.
Insert the Vauxhall Carlton GSi 3000, your number one choice in 1986 if you lusted for a rear-wheel drive saloon with oodles of power. Okay, that’s maybe that’s a lie, as on paper the Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG ‘Hammer’ and the BMW E28 M5 looked to be much more promising if you had a thing for civility-turned-ill-mannered motoring in the late-1980s. However, if the Hammer or the M5 were the too obvious of a choice to you, or if you simply didn’t have the money to fill that painfully empty space in the garage with the Merc or the Bimmer, you certainly wouldn’t have been foolish to say no to the humble Vauxhall.
Before the Lotus-tuned Carlton stunned the world (and the Autobahn) with its near-180 mph top speed, it was, as many cars are prior to being tuned to maniacal freaks of nature, a mild-mannered saloon. Or so one would be led to believe. With 177 bhp and 177 lb-ft of torque on offer from a 3.0-litre straight-six, the GSi 3000 was no slouch.
Sure, the 8.2 second sprint (racewalk?) to 60 mph probably won’t boggle the mind, no more would the 134 mph top speed, but the combination of a well-sorted front-engine rear-drive chassis and enough power to get the wheels to slip made for some amusing ways to take on roundabouts (catch my drift?) as well as a reason to wake up early on weekends.
Looking at the GSi 3000 today, one almost has to admire its clean and understated looks. And whereas today’s super saloon manufacturers have differentiated their high-performance four-doors from your everyday run-of-the-mill saloons with air vents, bulges and extra exhaust pipes, this car remains true to its four-door roots.
a sensible a decision
What’s more, with Lotus Carltons selling for as much as £17,000, buying a GSi 3000 is a sensible a decision now as it was in 1986, especially if you bag a good ’un. And with only 26, 451 miles on the clock, this one appears a sound investment for only £6,479. To the eye, the car doesn’t appear to have many worrying signs of rust, and the condition of the interior is nothing short of fantastic. The silver paint also fits the car’s appearance and characteristics perfectly, in the retinas of your modest motoring scribe, that is.
So it’s not the Carlton from Hethel, and while the reputation for the badge on the front grille might make you the subject of some bar room banter before you can get past the name ‘Vauxhall,’ you can take pride in the fact that you’ve invested in the next best thing to a motoring icon and a super saloon of your own.
Vauxhall Carlton GSi 3000
Engine: 2,969 cc straight-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual, RWD
Horsepower: 177 bhp
Torque: 177 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 8.2 seconds
Maximum Speed: 134 mph
The good: Well-sorted chassis, costs nearly £11k than a Lotus Carlton
The bad: Appearance not as aggressive as the Lotus
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