Special Edition Cars: The Best, Worst, and Weirdest
Car companies often collaborate with other industries or prominent people to release a special edition of already well-established vehicles. Some are totally redesigned and remodeled while others just get a custom paint job or something that links them to the thing they are named after.
From anniversary celebrations to tributes to famous people, there’ve been a lot of special edition cars in the 140 years of automotive history. However, not all of the special edition cars are special or that great. In this list, we’ll go through 40 of the most famous (or infamous) special edition cars and see which one of them is the best, the worst, or outright weird. Let’s get started.
Best: Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition
To celebrate one century of making luxury performance cars, Bentley released the Number 9 Edition of their flagship Continental GT in 2019. The car was meant to pay tribute to their rich history, particularly the Blower Bentley that participated in the 1930 24 hours of Le Mans.
To link the car with the 1930 unit, it comes with a piece of wood from the driver’s seat of the 1930s Le Mans car. The piece is set in resin and backlit, placed in the central dial of the rotating display.
Best: Subaru Impreza RB320
Subaru created 320 examples of the Impreza bearing the badge RB320. The RB in the name of this car stands for the famous rally driver and 2001 World Rally Champion Richard Burns. This car got both cosmetic and performance upgrades as compared to the regular Impreza.
The horsepower of the RB320 was bumped up to 320. All of these RB edition cars came in Obsidian Black and had 18-inch graphite wheels to go with the black color.
Best: Bugatti Divo Ladybug
If the paint of a car alone costs a million dollars, you better believe it’s a special edition. Bugatti will make only 40 examples of the Ladybug, with the starting price of $5 million apiece.
Under the skin, the Ladybug is a Bugatti Chiron Super Sport. This car comes with an insane 8.4L W16 motor that’s complemented by four massive turbochargers enabling it to produce 1500 horsepower at the crank. Yes, it doesn’t just look good!
Good: BMW i8 Memphis Style
Under the skin, this is just another BMW i8 but the collaboration with Memphis Group has given it a touch of classic styling. The design of this car is inspired by the era of Scarface, Wall Street, and Miami Vice.
Even though the styling of this car is derived from the 1980s, it still suits the futuristic outlook of the i8. BMW also made a Memphis Style version of the i3.
Best: Mercedes SLS AMG Desert Gold
When you have the wealth of oil at your disposal, companies will go to any length to satisfy you. Mercedes came up with the SLS AMG Desert Gold, nicknamed ‘The Mirage of the Desert’ for the ultra-rich of the UAE.
With a starting price of more than $250,000 for a unit, this German madness rips a hole through time with its 6.2 L M159 DOHC V8. Only 79 of these were ever built and auctioned to UAE Sheikhs for undisclosed prices.
Best: BMW M3 CSL
Even though the E46 generation of the M3 was an exalted performance machine, BMW decided to make 422 improved examples of the car with the name CSL (Coupe Super Light) in 2003.
They managed to shed 95 kg off the already nimble car by using carbon fiber doors, hood, and roof panels. Even the seats were made of carbon fiber and anything that didn’t make the car go fast (like the stereo and air-conditioning) was made a no-cost option to make this luxury coupe a real track car.
Weird: Volkswagen Polo Harlequin
If you thought this is a poor man’s car who couldn’t get the scrapyard body panels colored the same, you can be forgiven. VW displayed the Harlequin Polo at the 1975 London Motor Show, with no initial plans of making it commercial.
However, the overwhelming demand from customers made them release this car as a production vehicle. The only difference between this and the standard Polo is the (disgusting) paint job, otherwise, this is the exact same car.
Best: Bugatti La Voiture Noire
If you can’t already tell from the color, La Voiture Noire is French for ‘The Black Car.’ This black car pays tribute to the prized black Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic that was lost during World War II, talk of atrocities of war.
As exclusivity has always been a key factor in the brand value of Bugatti, they made just one La Voiture Noire which was sold to an anonymous buyer for a sum of $13.4 million.
Average: Mini 1499 GT
Don’t get excited by the GT in the name of this car. Mini has used the same trick here as Apple does with the SE (Special Edition) iPhones. The 1499 GT had a smaller (1499cc) three-cylinder engine and 1499 of these were ever made.
BMW made this car as a tribute to the Mini 1275 GT from 1969. The point of both these cars was to provide Mini aficionados with a more affordable car with lower maintenance costs.
Hard to Decide: Nissan ‘Gold Leaf’
Honestly, this car looks a lot weird, unless you know the story behind it. Nissan made these cars for their sponsored participants of the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. If you were sponsored by Nissan and won one or more Gold Medals, you got one of these.
Underneath the Gold Vynil wrapping and the declaration that the person driving this car won at least one, Gold Medal, in Rio 2016, this is the same electric Nissan Leaf. Now, wrapping a car in Gold Vynil is pretty weird, but as this car honors winning athletes, we can’t declare it a weird special edition car.
Best: Mazda MX-5 Le Mans
Mazda made 24 of these in 1991 to celebrate their victory in Le Mans. The car was given the same green and orange color and OZ alloy wheels as the Le Man winning 787B prototype.
The upgrades were not only cosmetic though. The car had an extra 36 hp, thanks to the BBR turbo, bumping the total engine output to 150 hp. It also received improved coilovers for better handling. Each one of these 24 units came with a signed certificate from the Le Mans-winning driver of that year, Jhonny Herbert.
Best: BMW M5 Edition 35 Years
BMW built 350 of these 35 Years Edition cars in summer 2019 to celebrate the 35th anniversary of its most decorated sports sedan, the M5. This car got the engine from the M5 competition, a 4.4-L twin-turbocharged V8 pumping out 616 bhp.
All of the 350 units came in matte-metallic grey color with model-specific wheels and black brake calipers. Carbon ceramic brake rotors and golden calipers were reserved as an optional extra.
Good: VW Golf GTI Clubsport Edition 40
VW has been releasing a special edition of the Golf every five years since 2001. In 2016, to celebrate 40 years of the Golf, they made that year’s edition a bit more special. This variant ranks between the regular Golf GTI and the performance-oriented Golf R.
Thanks to the turbocharged 2-L engine, the Golf Clubsport has 34 more horses compared to the GTI, bumping the constant power output to 261 hp. The best trick up this Golf’s sleeve is the over-boost function that can increase the power output to 286 hp for short periods.
Best: Fiat Kung Fu Panda
Even though this car just has cosmetic upgrades as compared to the regular Fiat Panda, it deserves the label ‘Best.’ That’s because the only unit that was built for the 2016 Geneva Motorshow was auctioned and all proceeds were donated to a charity.
This charity works for the preservation of the habitats of real Pandas. The car is inspired by the animated movie Kung Fu Panda 3 by Dreamworks Studios. The paintwork resembles a panda and the headrests of all four seats have the face of the main character of the movie.
Good: Renault Clio Williams
Renault made the Clio Williams in 1993 as a direct competitor to the Peugeot 205. This car was made for rallying and as per the homologation rules, Renault had to make at least 2500 units of the car with the exact specifications of the one they intended to use for the rally.
However, owing to the immense popularity of the Clio Williams, Renault decided to manufacture two more batches of the car in 1994 and 1995, making a total of 12,100 cars.
Best: Audi R8 RWS
The R8 is one of the best sports cars to ever be, but gearheads always had one complaint about it. That was the Quattro all-wheel-drive system used in this car. That’s not because Quattro is not a good system, but because people like sports cars to be RWD.
It came as a surprise when Audi, who hadn’t built an RWD car since 1930, announced a limited run of 999 R8 RWS units in 2018. The formula of a screaming V10 and rear-wheel drive got so popular that in 2020 Audi introduced a rear-wheel variant of the R8 alongside the standard Quattro one.
Best: Ford Focus RS500
Ford made the RS back in the day when hot hatches weren’t even a thing, and crazy performance was only reserved for big sedans. However, they decided to go full John Henry on the thing and produced 500 of these special edition cars in 2010.
The power output of the RS was increased by 15% to bring it to a total of 345 hp. The all-black hatch can do 0-60 in a mere 5.6 seconds.
Worst: Skoda Felicia Fun
If you think Skoda is a boring carmaker, consider this: they made a yellow concept pick-up that made it into production. According to them, this was not intended to be a work vehicle, and rather a lifestyle vehicle, hence the name and the color.
The rear seats on this truck made it weird. To use them, you have to pull them out into the bed, essentially making it a convertible truck. That also extremely limits the functionality of the truckbed.
Average: Hyundai Kona Iron Man
The Korean automaker partnered with Marvel Studios in 2019 to give its Kona SUV a touch of Sci-Fi fantasy. The upgrades were, however, only cosmetic as it’s just another underpowered Kona under the hood.
They even developed a special paint for the car, called ‘Iron Man Matte Grey’ with accents and roof utilizing the ‘Red Armor’ paint job. The car also has Iron Man Branding on the roof as well as inside on the infotainment screen and the gauge cluster.
Good: Land Rover Defender Heritage Edition
The classic Defender underwent few design changes over its 67-year life. Land Rover, however, introduced some special editions towards the end of its production run, with the Heritage Edition being the best of them.
Paying tribute to the oldest surviving Defender, the HUE 166, all 2654 of the Heritage Edition Defenders had the iconic Grasmere Green metallic paint job and a white roof to go with it. The wheels were steel and color-coded to match the body.
Average: Nissan Rogue One Star Wars
Imagine you are an automaker and the world’s most famous movie franchise comes up with an installment with the name of one of your models. Well, Nissan found themselves in just that position when Star Wars announced Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
So, they branded the Rogue SUV, one of their best-selling models in the American market with Rogue One badges on the lower front doors. Buyers of the Rogue One Star Wars SUV get a life-size Death Trooper Helmet with the car as well.
Best: Abarth 695 Rivale
Abarth 695C Rivale proved that you can make a hot hatch that is stylish and performance-oriented at the same time. The 695C Rivale was a special edition of the 695 with a design inspired by the luxury yacht maker Riva.
The exterior gets the iconic Riva paint job with the two-tone blue and grey finish. The inside is decorated with all manners of luxury materials from blue leather to mahogany. The 178 hp engine under the hood of this miniature land yacht gives it a power-to-weight ratio of a supercar.
Weird: Fiat 500 Ron Arad
This special edition hatchback from Fiat has a weird design and history. Fiat made 200 of these to pay tribute to the original Fiat 500 from 1957. The graphic on the side of the car is a depiction of that original model.
The name of the car comes from a long-time Fiat lover – famed industrial designer Ron Arad. What’s weird is that Ron Arad once crushed five original 1957 Fiat 500s for his artwork.
Good: Volkswagen Beetle Fender Edition
Volkswagen made the Fender edition Beetle to pay tribute to the manufacturer of Fender guitars. That’s not obvious from the outside appearance of the car where the only difference from the regular Beetle is a custom black paint and 18-inch Discus wheels.
Inside, however, the car has a lot of things to link it to Fender. These include Fender guitar Sunburst wood treatment on the dashboard panel, a 400-watt Fender stereo system, illuminated front speakers, and a boot-mounted subwoofer.
Best: Ssangyong Korando Sports DMZ
Yes, that DMZ stands for Demilitarized Zone. Ssangyong is a South Korean Automaker and the DMZ in the name refers to the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South Koreas.
As for the truck itself, it is the top-of-the-range variant of the Korando Sports with a camouflage paint job to give it a military vibe. The truck features multi-link rear suspension for a comfortable ride when most of the competitors are stuck with ancient leaf spring setups.
Average: Hyundai Tucson Walking Dead
The second-generation Tucson was featured in the Walking Dead TV series, so on the 10th anniversary of the graphic novel series The Walking Dead, the Korean automaker decided to collaborate and make a special edition of the Tucson.
The car has a zombie hand graphic on the bottom of the front doors and comes with a zombie survival backpack consisting of tissue paper, drinking water, and light sticks. Mechanically, it’s just another Tucson.
Best: Range Rover Evoque Victoria
The queen must be happy at the collaboration between two of the UK’s leading luxury brands, Victoria Beckham and Land Rover. The SUV got just design updates, obviously because Victoria is a fashion designer and not a rally driver.
As one might expect, the inside of the Range Rover Evoque Victoria features all manners of luxury materials. The leather has characteristic ‘baseball’ stitches, pointing towards Victoria’s husband, David who is one of the most decorated footballers in modern English history.
Good: Toyota Tundra Terminator 3 Special Edition
When Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines came out in 2003, it was one of the most-watched movies at the box office. To capitalize on that opportunity, Toyota made a special edition of their flagship truck, the Tundra.
The Terminator 3 Tundra came with a custom black paint, and bespoke grille and wheels. To go with the name, this truck had Toyota’s most powerful V8 of the time, a Borla Exhaust, and better headlamps.
Best: Ferrari 599 China
Ferraris are already expensive enough and when they decide to do a special edition of one of their flagship models, do expect to pay a bunch of money to get your hands on it.
The Ferrari 599 China was developed by Lu Hao, the first Chinese to ever work for the Italian automaker. The design of this Ferrari comes from the Dong Dynasty Ge Kiln pottery patterns. Ferrari made just one unit which was sold for $1.3 million at an auction.
Best: Aston Martin DB9 GT Bond Edition
Aston was the official car of the most iconic British Special Agent, James Bond. To pay tribute to the character who made their cars so famous, Aston Martin released a special edition of the DB9 in 2016.
This DB9 GT got a special Spectre Silver color honoring the latest James Bond Movie of the time, Spectre. Buyers also got a James Bond Edition Omega Watch along with the car. All 150 of the DB9 Bond Edition cars had a plaque with the 007 logos on them.
Best: Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport L’or Blanc
When the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport came out in 2010, it was the first in many things. It was the quickest accelerating car, the fastest in terms of top speed, and the first car to have 1000+ horsepower.
If the $1.9 million price tag of this hypercar was not mad enough, Bugatti decided to make a special edition in collaboration with German porcelain maker Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin. L’or Blanc translates to ‘White Gold’ and this one-off white gold Bugatti was sold for $2.4 million.
Best: Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: Black Ops Edition
There are few things in the world as macho as the Jeep Wrangler. So, in 2010, when Call of Duty: Black Ops was at the height of its popularity, Jeep decided to collaborate with them to make a special edition of the Wrangler.
Mechanically, the Call of Duty Jeep is the same as the standard Jeep of that year. The only differences are the bespoke wheels, some decals, and a few other small touches.
Good: Fiat 500 Gucci Edition
Fiat is not exactly the brand you’d think of as collaborating with a luxury designer brand, but they did. The Fiat 500 Gucci Edition was made for Ireland and came with a number of cosmetic updates.
The car had the iconic Gucci stripes on the body, carpets, key fob, and seatbelts. The Gucci Edition, branded as ‘500 by Gucci,’ came with a bag of bespoke travel accessories and cost just a humble $19,000 – probably the most reasonably priced thing to bear the Gucci name.
Average: Levi’s Edition Jeep Renegade
The Renegade was one of the most successful models of Jeep from the 1970s, guess what else was at the top of its popularity in 1975? Levis Denim! So the two decided to collaborate and as it would not have been feasible to produce Jeep-Branded Jeans, they made a Levis-branded Jeep.
The SUV was the standard Jeep Renegade in every sense but had the trademark Levis branding on the body and Levis seat covers inside.
Weirdest: Smart Forjeremy
If you think this monstrosity was commissioned for Jeremy Clarkson of TopGear, you are mistaken. He’ll never let such a disgusting thing be associated with his name. This is the work of designer Jeremy Scott.
Scott decided to attach these weird wings to the car, which turned out pretty terrible, to say the least. We can only thank God that no other automaker has let this man disfigure a car.
Worst: Nissan Juke R
Making the Juke R was like translating the entirety of Shakespear’s work into some sub-Saharan language or unicycling from Anchorage to Manhattan. It is an accomplishment in itself, but was there really a need for this?
The Juke R is a special edition of the Juke with an engine straight out of the GT-R, no kidding. It has the same DOHC turbo V6 with 485 hp. But, how fast can you reasonably go in the shell of a JUKE no matter how powerful a motor you strap to it?
Best: Frank Sinatra Edition Chrysler Imperial
Guess where the color of this car came from? It was inspired by the hue of Sinatra’s eyes. The Imperial – a nameplate that had been running since 1920 – was the best match to pay tribute to the decorated singer.
It’s, however, a shame that they couldn’t give Franks’ eyes’ color to the eyes (headlamps) of this car as the model they chose had ‘closed eyes.’ Still, Sinatra might be the only human who ever lived to have a car dedicated to his eyes.
Best: Bugatti Chiron Hermes Edition
Manny Khishbin was one of the first people to reserve a Bugatti Chiron but one of the later ones to get the delivery. The reason, however, was not the inefficiency of the French Luxury sportscar manufacturer.
Mr. Khishbin wanted a one-of-a-kind Chiron for himself and to fulfill his wishes, Bugatti had to call in famed French luxury design house Hermes to design a one-off special edition Chiron for him. Khoshbin ended up paying a nice sum of $4.5 million for this bespoke Bugatti.
Best: Lamborghini Sesto Elemento
If there’s an award for the coolest name of a sports car, this one will surely win that. Sesto Elemento is Italian for ‘Sixth Element’, aka, carbon. Not surprisingly, this car is made entirely of carbon fiber and all the focus was to make this as light as possible.
This car was unveiled at the 2010 Paris Auto Show, four years before the introduction of the Huracan, with which it shares a lot of design and mechanical items. Only 20 of these were made with the starting price of 1.9 million euros for a unit.
Dodge Viper ACR 1:33 – Best
No, it’s not a 1:33 scale model of the Viper ACR. The name comes from the record-breaking 1.33-second lap time at the Laguna Seca Raceway on November 24, 2009. Dodge built just 33 examples of the 1:33.
Even more exclusive of the 1:33 club are the 10 cars with the black clearcoat and red driver’s stripes. As one of the very few production cars with a V10 engine under the hood, the Viper is a collectible in itself and the 1:33 takes that to a whole new level.