This report was taken from Car Enthusiast 2nd October 1999
0-60mph in 8.5 seconds, this is the time in which it takes most hot hatches. But not the beast I want to talk about in this week's Car of the Week - the Lotus Carlton goes from 0-60-0 in 8.5 seconds (without a parachute in sight). Built in a specially prepared unit that used to see service as the De Lorean development workshop, the Carlton arrived from Rüsselsheim as a virtually standard 3000 GSi, and was then immediately stripped back to a bare shell. The seats were sent for re-trimming, the engine returned to Opel and the body modified to accept the new engine and gearbox. Other changes ensure that the huge tyres don't foul the standard wheel arches.
But the real story of Lotus Type 104 centres in the engine and chassis. The engines were built up from all new parts by a small team, with one engineer assigned to each engine, Aston Martin style. Using the 3.0-litre 24-valve GM V6 as a starting point, Lotus upped the capacity to 3.6 litres, stiffened the block, improved coolant and oil flow and added a new induction system and manifold.
There are new Mahle pistons, new connecting rods and a new crankshaft, the latter with a dozen counter weights for smoother running. A pair of liquid cooled Garrett T25 turbochargers (which also saw service in the Escort Cosworth) completing the package. The original design concept demanded 100bhp per litre. It's a figure Lotus actually bettered, the new engine producing 377bhp at 5200rpm. More impressive are the torque figures. At just 2000rpm there's some 300lb.ft on tap, rising to a peak of 419lb.ft at 4200rpm.
Translated into performance, that means 0-60mph takes 5.2secs and 0-100mph just 11.5secs, while 50-70mph in third takes an incredible 2.8secs according to Vauxhall, and of course that magical 8.5 second 0-60-0 dash. Given that one of the most dangerous things about overtaking is the length of time you spend on the wrong side of the road, the Lotus Carlton must be one of the safest cars around!
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