Vauxhall Carlton GSI 3000 24v | Spotted

The famous fast Carlton that isn't a Lotus, but is much rarer

By Matt Bird / Thursday, November 4, 2021 / Loading comments

Hang on, you might be thinking, not another one. There was a Carlton GSi 3000 here just last week (or July last year, technically, but all the months still seem to be merging into one) – we don’t need to hear how great it is again. How the straight-six saloon was the class of the field in the 1980s, how it gave Vauxhall a great performance flagship and how it remains much loved to this day. It doesn’t need repeating.

But this isn’t that GSi 3000. Last year’s car was a 12-valve auto which, though interesting, is the least desirable of the GSi 3000s. This one, on the other hand, is the most desirable: a 24-valve manual, in red with the digital dash. When it succeeded the 12v in 1989, the 24v was a real step up in performance, taking the 3.0-litre straight-six from 179hp to in excess of 200hp. Road tests got the GSi to almost 150mph, passing 60mph in 7.4 seconds – that was seriously fast for a sub-£30k four-door saloon three decades ago.

Obviously, you won’t be launching a Carlton as good as this one from rest to the national speed limit, but it’ll probably still surprise with its performance. Assuming you ever get behind the wheel, that is, and cease gawping at an old Vauxhall. Owned by the same owner since 1992 and stored in a dehumidified garage (!), this GSi looks staggeringly good. It’s standard down to the Philips stereo cassette, the Carlton complete with original toolkit, a fully working LCD dash, the Athena velour seats and even the spare wheel from January 1990. The dealer says the GSi “performs every inch as good as it looks and is arguably one of the nicest unrestored examples in existence.” There seems no reason to disagree with that.

Indeed, just finding a 3000 in existence is difficult enough. If all the GSi Carltons taxed on UK roads (both the 12-valve and 24-valve models) were brought together, there would still be half as many cars as if all the Lotus Carltons were assembled. And it’s hardly like one of those is regular sighting. This Carmine Red Carlton is believed to be one of just 13 left on the road, with a few more SORN’d – chances to buy them are getting rarer and rarer.

And more expensive, of course. Last year’s car had fewer miles than the 79k recorded here, but was nowhere as nice. The flipside being that the white one was £6,995 – this one is £19,995. Being sold as part of a downsizing move, the GSi will undoubtedly be sorely missed. But what an opportunity this looks to be for the fast Vauxhall enthusiast, of which we know there are plenty around. And heck, if a Nova SR can be £17,000, this GSi 3000 almost looks a bargain…


SPECIFICATION | VAUXHALL CARLTON GSI 3000 24V

Engine: 2,969cc, straight-six
Transmission: 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): [email protected],000rpm
Torque (lb ft): [email protected],600rpm
MPG: c. 25
CO2:
Year registered:
1990
Recorded mileage: 79,000
Price new: £26,975
Yours for: £19,995

See the original advert here.

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