British Bandit: 40 RA
It stole drink, cigarettes and the dignity of the West Midlands police, it is of course the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton...
Back in 1993 some very chancing thieves decided to steal themselves a very nice Vauxhall. No, not a Corsa. It was a Lotus Carlton with the , now legendary, 40 RA number plate. What ensued was a series of petty ram raids that sent the police on a wild goose chase across the West Midlands.
If you don't know anything about the Lotus Carlton and why it was the gang's weapon of choice, let me explain. The Vauxhall Lotus Carlton was GM's answer to the BMW E34 M5 and the Mercedes 500 E. Instead of doing the modifications themselves, GM turned to British sports car builder Lotus. What the boffins at Lotus did was take the 3.0 litre Opel straight 6 and up the displacement to 3.6 litres. As well as this, Lotus plonked 2 turbos into the engine bay, and thus the Lotus Carlton was born.
Back to 40 RA, on the 26th of November 1993 a brand new Lotus Carlton was stolen from its home in the West Midlands by a gang of morons. What followed was the biggest embarrassment the police has ever faced. As the gang went around ram raiding shops for cigarettes and liquor ( I never said they were a smart gang) the police were powerless to stop them as they couldn't keep up with the crims. The reason why the police could never get close to 40 RA was because it could do 177 MPH. Whereas, the police's Rover Metros could barely hit 90 MPH. This meant the police had absolutely not a hope in hell to keep up with the Carlton as it continued to smash through off licence windows and nick cigarettes, vodka and, maybe, some "adult" literature. However, that last one was never confirmed, obviously. West Midlands' PC David Oliver said "We simply haven't been able to get near the thing and it looks unlikely that we ever will" This quote could be seen as the police admitting defeat and yielding to the hoodies in the souped up Vauxhall saloon.
They really didn't have a chance did they?
The more the gang comitted their crimes, the more daring and cocky they got. One raid they did was 30 yards away from a police station. The first the police knew about the raid was when the officers on the night shift heard the smashing of glass. By the time they got down there, all that was left was carnage and tire smoke. To prove how fast the Lotus Carlton is, it is alleged that 40 RA outran the West Midland's helicopter whilst being chased up the M6. The road, not the BMW. This claim has never been confirmed, but if it is true, holy sh*t...
Due to the constant ram raids that amounted to £20,000 worth of stolen... tat, MPs tried to get sales of the Lotus Carlton banned because apparently "nobody needs a car that goes 170 MPH" It's not about need is it? Thankfully, sales of the Lotus Carlton had stopped before they could be banned. Maybe MPs should go back to drinking on trains.
In short, 40 RA made a laughing stock of the police and showed, when in the wrong hands, how dangerous performance cars can be. As for the car itself, it was never recovered and the gang of crims were never caught. It's a shame really, another great car destroyed. Luckily, not all is lost because it cemented the Lotus Carlton as a legend among super saloons and gave it a cool story for people to tell. 40 RA truly was a British Bandit...
Thank you very much for reading and I hope you enjoyed!
-Joseph Le Corre-