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Rulebook. Shredded.

1 year ago

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Steve Sutcliffe | Journalist


23 May 2023

It was a cold autumnal evening on the Millbrook mile straight, the conditions perfect for some maximum-beans acceleration runs in the brand new Lotus Carlton.

The ambient temperature was low enough for the Carlton’s charge-cooled 3.6-litre twin-turbo straight-six to be able to breathe nice and freely, and for it to generate every single one of its claimed 377bhp and 419lb ft. Yet at the same time the tarmac was bone dry and the air slightly damp to the taste, as I remember it. Off the line Bitch-Carlt, as it was so aptly named by the late, great Russell Bulgin, was a difficult car to get right. Too few revs and its motor would bog, too many and it would ignite its rear tyres instantly.

But there was a sweet spot, and once found it was surprisingly easy to replicate, even if the shift from first to second needed finesse to avoid re-lighting the rear tyres when second gear bit. From then on, however, you could powershift Bitch-Carlt. In other words, you could keep its accelerator wide open while dipping its clutch on upshifts – so long as your hands, feet and brain were correctly synchronised – which meant it could generate some wild acceleration numbers up to and beyond 100mph. Even in 1990.

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