Friday's fantasy: caught in the classifieds

Friday's fantasy: caught in the classifieds

Published on February 10, 2012

Normally the Friday Fantasy would involve scouring through the listings on looking for something that tickles our fancy, but this car comes to us via Facebook. The advert was posted by a motor racing chum who comes from an age regularly called the PlayStation Generation. It is defined by an unnatural infatuation with hot Japanese motors. So for said chum to highlight a European car not seen since the early nineties it has to be special.

1991 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton 


At the time of its launch in late 1990 the Lotus Carlton was the fastest four-door saloon that money could buy. In fact there were few contemporary supercars that could match its performance, which is quick even by today's standards. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre engine, which produces 377hp and 568Nm of torque, the Carlton could sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds and had a top speed just shy of 290km/h.

Only ever available in Imperial Green, production of the über saloon was halted by the last recession meaning only 950 examples were ever made with only 230 of them being right-hand drive. While the €14,000 asking price for this car may seem steep the Lotus Carlton is an appreciating classic with well looked after models sure to attract a premium once they qualify for classic tax and insurance.

If you would prefer to drive your hyper saloon every day there is this:

2005 Audi S4


With a 340hp 4.2-litre V8 engine the Audi S4 offers similar performance as the Lotus Carlton (0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds with an electronically controlled 250km/h top speed), but in a more modern, more reliable guise. If you need to haul a full complement of kids and their accessories around very quickly there are few cars for the money that can compete. However, while the S4 offers blistering performance and the polish you would expect from Audi it does not offer the same kind of thrills as the Carlton.

For that we must turn to the land of the rising sun.

2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX FQ-320


The road-going rally car's exploits are legendary and in the end the Evo managed to fend off the attentions of its long time nemesis (the Subaru Impreza), which morphed into a hatchback, ending direct comparisons between the Japanese ‘PlayStations'. While the FQ (which apparently stands for something like 'flipping' quick) is the least powerful car of the three here its barely contained unhinged nature is probably the closest a modern saloon can come to the Lotus Carlton. The example we found is enthusiast owned and is rare amongst Evos for having minimal modifications.

Obviously with any performance car it is best to have it looked over by a competent mechanic and ideally run through for peace of mind, but one thing is for sure: if one of these cars was on your driveway there would never be any excuse for being late for mass...