1991 Vauxhall Carlton CDX 2.0L from UK and Ireland


Needing more attention, but still a good car


Cylinder head gasket starting to deteriorate at 168K.

Starter motor changed.

Ignition lock seized twice.

Rust is a big issue on these cars, and when remedied, the parts should be given lashings of wax oil or/and underseal - chassis legs, sills and arches.

Speedometer cable malfunctioned at 169K.

Driver's electric window repaired at 165K.

General Comments:

Quiet and very comfortable.

Good consumption for such a big car - 22 MPG urban, 30 MPG mixed, 40 MPG motorway.

Insurance is very competitive - £150 fully comp.

Tax is also cheap.

Keep on top of the car and it will probably serve you well. This is my second car in 22 years; both being Carltons.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th September, 2013

6th Sep 2013, 09:12

Cheap tax? It costs the same as any other UK car of this engine size and age.

1991 Vauxhall Carlton CDXi 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Rust happy


The car used to cut out for no reason.

The starting motor was on its way out; it used to make a weird noise when turning left or right from the back of the car.

Have never known a car to rust like this one; all a round the back arches you could put your hand in it. And it used to pass the M.O.T. like this.

The back end used to be light, but wobbly at the same time.

And I think the auto gearbox was on its way out.

The car was not very quick and burned oil; may had been the rings going.

Very pricey on petrol for what the car was 22mpg; well that's what the computer said.

I would never buy a Vauxhall again.

General Comments:

The seats are comfortable.

I liked the computer on my car, and the dash looked nice.

Very hard to reverse.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 25th October, 2007

24th Dec 2016, 17:16

Clearly you had a bad example. A well looked after Carlton was one of the best and most reliable cars on the road back in the day. In fact I've yet to find a more modern car to this day that compares to the reliability of the Carltons I had through the 80s and 90s.

Hard to reverse? I had no problems, it had better vision than modern cars with their thick pillars and sloping curves making it harder to judge; older cars were easier to drive, simply due to better vision all round.

1991 Vauxhall Carlton CDi Estate 2.0i 8V petrol from UK and Ireland


Quality reliable motoring at low cost


Rear suspension mountings for M.O.T test.

New distributor cap and leads.

Nearside rear window tends to stick.

Sticking float on header tank.

General Comments:

Excellent comfortable cruiser, but wouldn't win any races.

Everything still works after 15 years except a problem with the Blaupunkt disc player

No rot or rust will pass anything on the road except a filling station.

Paid £395 for car, but no handbook, anyone got a spare?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 9th January, 2006

11th Jan 2012, 16:22

The Carlton is still owned by me, and 6 years on is still giving excellent service, having now covered 133,000 miles.

A re-tubed radiator and heater matrix, fuel tank, O/S front window motor, ignition switch and anti roll bar links, plus a bit of chassis welding, have brought the car back to almost its original condition.

I disconnected the header tank float, as the level is easily seen when lifting the bonnet. The only other problem is a sticking O/S rear window.

It has cost about £600 all in. But what could you get to compare for this price?

1991 Vauxhall Carlton GL 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland




Battery at 77400 miles

Water pump at 70400 miles.

General Comments:

I thought I would take the opportunity to pass on my experience with Carlton’s and the associated big Vauxhalls of this era (they are all re-badged Opels). I own and have owned other Carlton’s, 2 Opel Monza’s and a Senator.

With sensible maintenance these cars are capable of Trojan mileages and relatively low running costs. My last Carlton had the lowest running costs of any car I have owned. Over a 4-year and 50K miles running period it only ever needed an alternator beside normal service items. It was sold with over 140K miles under its belt.

All these cars are now aging fast and the Carlton should truly be recognised as a future classic. They don’t carry the image or reputation of equivalent BMW’s and Merc’s, but there is no doubting that a ‘MK2’, clean, metallic and ‘cross spoke’ wheeled car has its own distinctive image and displays the last of the ‘hand drawn’ styling clues. Fit and finish was better in early cars.

Carlton’s are the ultimate cruisers. They are extremely comfortable and quiet over long distances, big, roomy and great haulers. They ride more softly than BMW’s and I don’t think they were ever intended as ‘sports cars’. Re-chip the 8-valve engine keeping its low rpm, flat torque curve and make sure all the breathers are clean and the pick up will surprise most people. Just don’t expect them to shift fast from a standing start. The engines perfectly suit the excellent auto boxes. Avoid the 1.8 and go for a pre ‘cat’ car for best performance and economy. By the way, I have only ever achieved around 21 mpg driving around London, but 40 mpg is achievable on long, speed limited runs.

The practical stuff:

These cars rot. If they had been galvanised a lot more would have survived. Terminal rust occurs in the front chassis legs due to ingress of muck through the access holes. Attend to this if you have a clean one. The rear wheel wells are the main area for rust. Its aggravated by muck accumulating in the door seal. Keep this area clean and ‘vaselined’. The sills eventually rot under the guards and towards their ends. The boot leaks due to poor seals and the spare wheel well can rot due to standing water. Poor paint application in later cars causes rot around the front and rear screen rubbers and the sunroof channels can rot if water can’t escape properly. The door bottoms suffer and this is no surprise as the window channel seals are next to useless in preventing water ingress.

Electrics are a problem. Wing mirrors pack up due to the switch bank corroding (water drops directly onto it when the window is open) and window motors pack up. This is not necessarily the motor itself, but more to do with the electronic module that is part of them. It sometimes stems from the wiring under the centre console. Bulbs blow if the alternator’s voltage output module is faulty (it should output no more than a constant 13 volts under load). The air con is a weak spot. Use the windows and sunroof regularly.

Head gasket blowing is not so much a problem as on the front wheel drive cars due to the fan being manual and keeping under bonnet temperatures more constant. However, radiators and water pumps fail.

Vauxhall brake discs warp (I have always used Girling replacements) and this results in wheel wobble when braking at about 50-55 mph. Rear discs corrode, particularly on autos. Steering joints eventually give up causing rapid tyre wear, poor steering and wobble. Change the auto box oil and filters at sensible mileages.

My current Carlton info is recorded below. I searched a long time to find a low mileage example and it was well worth the wait. I sold an Astra, bought the Carlton and went on a Caribbean holiday with the money left over – perfect!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 31st December, 2005

16th Jun 2006, 15:02

I agree with every comment. Bought my non-metallic 1.8L estate at 94K miles. Ludicrously under-powered, but that pleases me, if I can still get down to the Alps in 11 hours (Carlton did it six times).

I've needed new rear shocks, had a stalled rear wash-wipe motor which I took to bits and mended myself, a complete new exhaust, one suspension joint, and a fuel hose. Front discs are warped, but manageable. Moss grows on the window seals, but I just brush it off. Sills are seriously shot, but am about to replace them both with pattern parts, likely to be under £200 including the weld (Opel can't supply them). Rust under rear window rubber: war of attrition. If your carburation goes mad, check the fuel hose where it gets so hot. Availability of parts might become an issue?

Car seems good for 150K - 200K. Quiet, big, incredibly cheap, and doesn't look daft. Metallic paint is a must.

A Carlton equals money in the bank, and it means cars become a non-issue in your life. Great!!

You'll need a super-bike for the other half of your personality, and you can afford one.