The Lotus Carlton was not just a hero because of its massive turbocharged engine and rear-drive handling balance. Not just an icon because of its Lotus-honed grip and track prowess.
Not just a stylish executive saloon that suddenly competied with Audi and BMW thanks to its sweet wide fenders and aerokit.
Not just a British national champion because it was created by Vauxhall and Lotus, and built there too. Little Opel input was needed for asked-for, nor help from General Motors across the Atlantic.
Nor simply an extremely-rapid autobahn missile with a Vmax of more than 180-mph.
The real reason the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton is a hero even today, 22 years later?
It showed a huge change of direction and injection of driver passion into the tired English car business as a whole. Three decades of consolidation, labor drama, bankruptcies and malaise had a devastating effect on the few cars England still made. They were hopeless and soggy, dogged by poor quality and ancient designs and technology.
The Lotus Carlton showed that someone finally demanded better.
Demanded smoking rubber and sexy style.
Whether the limited-numbers of Carltons made a difference overall? Not really. But the sea change was noted by all involved. It lit a fire under the British automotive establishment. A Jaguar XJR would follow, along with a Bentley Arnage R, Rolls-Royce Azure and more at the top of the price stratoshere. At the bottom, the Ford Ka and later an affordable, mid-engine Lotus Elise.
All these cars owe a bit to the brilliance of the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton.
1993 Vauxhall Lotus Carlton