Episode 237. Vauxhall Carlton. L298 VLW.(Part 4).

 As my month with the Carlton draws to an end, I'll bet there are a fair few of you out there wondering why is it not up for sale yet? I'm going to start off by saying why I've not put it up for grabs yet. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I've not had the V5c back from the DVLA yet, and secondly, I think I may have a buyer for it located inside my circle of friends, he just needs to try and convince his good lady that he needs the Carlton more than I do. I'm guessing that there's a fair few of you, who have read my other babble about my Carlton estate, and are probably thinking that I plan to keep this one too as it's a good one. Well, to be honest I'm not, and as soon as the V5c appears, if my friend isn't allowed to have it then it will be up for grabs to anyone that would like it! You may now be asking yourselves why don't I just hang on to this one, and to be quite honest, I've asked myself that too. This one is very nice, if you can find a better one I will be amazed, and in all honesty I should be hanging on to it with both hands. But it's just not what I'm looking for, I like the Mark I (1978–86) Carlton estates, and although this is very close in looks, it just isn't close enough for me. 

I do think that the Mark II (1986–94) Carlton estate is still a beautiful car in my opinion, but as Roy Walker, from the TV game show 'Catchphrase' would say, "It's good, but it's not right!" I can't believe that it's not close enough either, and I really do doubt that I will EVER find a better Carlton, but it's not the one I'm looking for. 

Sometime ago I had a really, REALLY nice Volvo 240GL, it was very very tidy, and I have this friend who was very interested in it, except he was looking for a Volvo 244, not a 240. Now, I don't know what the difference is between a Volvo 240, and a Volvo 244, and bizarrely neither did he, but his Dad had a Volvo 244 when he was a kid, and so it had to be a Volvo 244. At the time I thought he was crazy not to have this 240, and I really didn't understand why he didn't want it, but he said it had to be a 244. Nothing else would do, and close enough wasn't going to cut it for him. I thought he must be mad to miss out on it, but now, having had this, I can see what he's saying, it's a good car, yes, but it's not the right one... Incidentally I really hope that now he can convince his lovely lady to let him have the Carlton! 

Anyway, as for me and this Carlton I really do think that maybe I've lost the plot! Needless to say I am very dissapointed with myself for not liking this enough, I don't know why I don't, but I just don't. I wondered if the problem was that, having had the Mercedes as the last car, the Carlton can't compete. But the truth is that it can compete, and in many ways it is better than the Mercedes. No, it doesn't have the power, and I think the Mercedes SEC was marginally better looking, but the Carlton is very well equipped, very comfy, luxurious even. Infact it does everything the Mercedes did, but it doesn't have Oliver Reeds drinking habit! Plus, it's a great little load-lugger. It's close, but I think I may even prefer it to the Mercedes. Although probably only by a Gnats knacker, but I think I do. However, pitching it against the Vauxhall Omega that I had earlier in the year, I'd have the Omega, which is strange. I thought that the Mk2 Carlton would have all the bits of the Mk1 Carlton that I like, plus all the bits of the Omega that I like, but it just doesn't.

The truth is that the Mk2 Carlton is far and away a better car than the Mk1, and it's a better car in every way. Except for, I prefer the looks of the Mk1, I know the changes were pretty subtle but for me the Mk2 was just too slippery, too aerodynamic, too refined! Maybe it's just too damn good! For me, the Mk1, especially my Mk1 is better, I don't know what it is about it that makes it better, I just can't put my finger on it although my best bet would be nostalgia, and I know there are far better cars out there, but I think that I like it inspite of that. I actually look forward to being able to get into my Mk1 Carlton, and going for a bit of a drive in it, although sadly thats probably still a fair time away from now. So for the time being atleast I'll be cruising, and enjoying the Mk2.

I've been doing plenty of driving about in the Carlton, however I've not really taken it for a proper drive, I can't explain why as I just don't know. I like the car, but I'm just feeling a little bit lack lustre of late, and frankly I can't be arsed! This is not good for the story, or your reading pleasure, so the other evening I decided I would just have to man-up, and go out in the rain. To be fair, I think the problem is the rain, it just doesn't inspire me to go out driving, or anything else for that matter. When it starts to get a bit cold, dark, wet, and bleak out there I just want to find a cozy spot and hibernate for the Winter. Still never mind, lets go. Right then into the car, and pop a CD in... Oh good, The Doors... Riders On The Storm! Perfect, no doubt that should help my mood! There's a killer on the road, His brain is squirmin' like a toad, Take a long holiday... Let your children play... If ya give this man a ride, Sweet FAMILY will die... Killer on the road, yeah... Great, already I feel like thats cheered me right up! I'm almost certainly in a driving mood now, oh yeah baby! I've always loved that song, but I think before the drive ends I'll be changing it for something a little more upbeat! Hmm, I wonder if I can find any Gina G?

 I figured that I'd just meander my way through the New Forest, not really going anywhere, just see where I would end up. The thing is, it's raining, and it's dark, I never used to mind driving in the dark, and if I'm honest I still don't mind driving in the dark, or the rain for that matter. But it does suck the joy out of the drive a bit, I'm not really enjoying it, not at all. It's not the car, the car is lovely, I'm inside, I've got the wipers on, I'm warm, and even my bum is getting toasted on the wonderfully heated seats. Make no mistake, this is a lovely car to drive, and if you were some sort of salesman in the early nineties, and had come from a mk1 Carlton to this mk2 Carlton you would've felt very special indeed, if it was mine in the nineties I would've been chuffed to nuts, infact despite it not being quite the Carlton I want I'm pretty chuffed to have been able to have called it mine, it really is a superb car to drive. 

However, as I wound my way through the twisty New Forest roads it has to be said that it wasn't as good as it was when I was doing it in the summer, it felt more like a chore than a pleasure, and thats not good. I think part of the problem with the Carlton is that the speedo is in KM/H, and only in KM/H, the route I followed this evening seemed to pass by several government sponsored fund raising stations, which dotted the route through the new forest. As I approached each one I must say that I was glad that they give the motorist a fighting chance by having them covered with a huge reflective sticker, but I'm approaching them constantly trying to work out how fast I'm going in MP/H. I've never been good at maths, therefore my drive was filled with my mind racing, trying to figure out what 30mph looks like in kph, what does 40mph look like, what's 50? I think that if I was to keep this Carlton the first thing I'd do is track down a set of gauges in MPH, or infact see if the so called 'Lotus Carlton' gauges are actually a cheap sticker stuck over the original clocks, as the more I look at it, the more I think that's exactly what the previous owner has done. But, as I'm not planning to keep it, I'll try not to worry about it. It does make me wonder though, who changed the original gauges from ones that had both MPH and KPH on them from factory, to a set that only had KPH? What ype of lunatic would do a thing like that? And more importantly, why, what's to gain?

Anyway somewhere near Bournemouth I decided that I would stop for a coke, just for a bit of a break really, well, that and my mouth was dryer than a Nuns gusset. As I sat there looking out through the window of Pizza the Hut at the Carlton I couldn't help but think that this is a very smart looking car. Yes it's clearly from another time, but it still looks modern enough to be parked anywhere without raising so much as an eyebrow. It's very understated, but in my mind that is  just one of the things that makes it so cool, and so good looking, it doens't need anything to make it look better, it's nailed it just as it is. Admittedly adding a set of wheels and lowering it does change it's looks somewhat, and in my mind it has improved it for the better, although, as I've said before, despite them growing on me a bit I still don't really care for the Borbets. But to my way of thinking it doesn't need any kind of fancy graphic or anything to take the emphasis away from the clean and uncluttered styling, I really do reckon that the stylists at GM nailed it with the styling of these things, definately a case of less is more... I just wish it was a Mk1.