The Lotus Omega Combines Speed and Practicality for an Ultimate Super-Saloon

Car Culture 26 July 25, 2018 by

We rather like Lotus cars. The mantra of simplify and add lightness is a recipe for pretty much the perfect sports car. But if you have a family or even the need to carry anything, an Elise isn’t exactly ideal. For this week’s Want, we take a look at a car that blends the performance of Lotus with the practicality of a sedan: the Lotus Omega.

When the original Opel Omega (or Vauxhall Carlton in the UK) hit the scene in 1986, it quickly became a favorite of the automotive press. With a whole host of technologically advanced features for the time, including self-diagnostics and an onboard computer, it took home the European Car of the Year award for 1987. It even managed to beat out the Audi 80 and BMW 7-series.

With a wide array of engine choices and trims, the Omega could also be as sporty or as comfortable as the buyer wanted. Among the more spicy options was the Omega 3000 and Omega Evolution 500, which allowed Opel to enter the big car in DTM.

Despite these performance variants, it was missing some of the proper sports sedan elements. This is where Lotus comes in.

During the late ’80s General Motors owned Lotus, with a brief stint of co-owning it with Toyota. This is why the match made perfect sense to GM for the Omega and its ultra-high-performance model. It also didn’t hurt that GM Europe president, Bob Eaton, was a huge fan of Lotus too.

To kick off the performance updates, Lotus first started with the 3.0-liter straight-six from the Omega GSi. From there it increased the displacement to 3.6-liters and then, for an extra measure, added twin Garrett T25 turbos.

To handle the extra boost, Lotus had to make the Omega’s internals significantly beefier too, alongside a compression ratio drop to 8.2:1. Finally, to cap off the engine upgrades, Lotus fitted a water-to-air intercooler and new ignition system.

Altogether this left the Omega with a stout 377hp and 419lbft of torque. This was nearly double the output of the base engine.

These upgrades had a dramatic effect on the performance too. The sprint to 60mph now took just 5.1 seconds and flat out the Omega would hit 176mph. This was on a par with many of the supercars of the day.

Lotus also gave the chassis and suspension a makeover as well. Pulling both the self-leveling suspension and power steering from the Opel Senator, it helped the Omega handle the higher speeds.

The performance of the Lotus Omega had an unintended consequence though — it made it a favorite target of thieves, especially in the UK.

At the time, the British police force only had the Vauxhall Senator at its disposal for high-speed chases. The only problem was its top speed couldn’t remotely match that of the Carlton.

Quickly thieves discovered this and would boost a Lotus Carlton prior to a robbery. Then, using its high top speed and excellent handling, the criminals made their escape with ease.

Thankfully, this Lotus Omega we found offered for sale by Konzept Heritage of Odivelas, Portugal isn’t a thief’s special. Instead, it’s a wonderfully preserved example of an incredible car.

Coated in Imperial Green — the only color available for the Lotus Omega — the bodywork is impeccable. It shows very little signs of wear, which is amazing since it’s covered a little more than 45,000 miles. Even more so since those 45,000 miles probably weren’t the easiest.

The interior is black leather with a smattering of faux-wood trim. It’s in relatively good shape, but the seats do show signs of aging, as does the six-speed manual shifter.

According to Konzept Heritage, this Lotus Omega is number 457 of the 630 built in 1992.

If you want to get your hands on this ultimate version of a sports sedan, you won’t need to rob a bank either. The list price for it is €47,900 ($56,000) which is roughly what the car cost new in ’92.

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