Buying and selling

For sale: One of a kind Lotus Carlton Estate

by James Mills
4 February 2021 2 min read
For sale: One of a kind Lotus Carlton Estate
Photos: eBay/David Brown

What could be cooler than a Lotus Carlton? A one-off Lotus Carlton Estate. That was presumably the view of one car enthusiast, who took matters into his own hands and transformed a Carlton Estate into a fire-breathing, twin-turbo, Labrador-lugging Lotus. And now it’s for sale.

The one of a kind project is currently up for grabs on eBay, and the build shows what could have been, had the 1990 hell-raiser of a car been more widely accepted to justify investment in an estate version.

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For sale: One of a kind Lotus Carlton Estate

As it was, only 950 Lotus Carltons were built, so creating a variant to square up to the opposition at the time, namely the BMW M5 Touring (E34) would have been financial folly for Lotus.

Happily, David Brown, a Vauxhall enthusiast, took matters – and spanners – into his own hands and set about creating the car that never was. Having owned three genuine Lotus Carltons over the past 17 years, he was well placed to know how to approach the project and ensure it was, technically, as faithful as possible to the saloon. “I’ve always wanted to build an estate, a proper estate,” says Brown. Four-and-a-half years later, he’d fulfilled his dream.

A donor Carlton Estate, which began life as a 2-litre Diamond model, was stripped down and in its place came a new subframe carrying a 377bhp, 3.6-litre, 24-valve engine complete with two Garrett turbochargers. Under the surface Brown added a Getrag six-speed manual gearbox and new clutch from a ZR-1 Corvette, an uprated differential, more robust driveshafts, fitted larger AP Racing brakes and had a custom exhaust made complete with the Lotus Carlton tailpipe. Wheels, tyres and the bodykit – including the vented bonnet and vast rear wing – complete the illusion. Inside, everything is as you’d expect to find in the saloon version, including the sports leather seats, steering wheel and all Lotus branding.

It’s hard to decide on the pièce de resistance with a car like this. Perhaps the 180mph marked speedometer? Or maybe the Mobira car phone?

We’ve already told the story behind the development of the Lotus Carlton, in this interview with Mike Kimberley, the man responsible for running the British car company at the time. We’d imagine a tribute car like this would, in some small way, please all those involved in the creation of Britain’s super saloon.

To date, the Lotus load-lugger has covered a mere 3,200 miles. Brown is now selling the car, via eBay, and has set a reserve price of £45,000. The bidding has reached £22,880 with eight days to go to the end of the auction (at the time of writing).

If you want to stand out of the (small) crowd of Lotus Carlton owners, you know what to do…

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