www.hotcars.com 10 Times “Special Edition” Cars Went Too Far
When a company is proud of one or another car they made, have too much cash on their hands, or just want to "see what will happen" they come out with some wild, rare, and even impressive vehicles that, yes, are covered under the factory warranty. A "special edition" or "limited run" car is a loosely-used term but in our current case means vehicles that are typical or basic and then cranked up or decked out for 10,000 or fewer models in a pre-determined number.
Mostly, car companies do this for promotional reasons or to try something different just because they can. Some are experiments that create a new vein of racing and performance possibilities like the Audi R8 RWS. Others have a legacy or anniversary and throw themselves a party. Many are for races, and some just don't make any darn sense like the "Levi's Edition" Jeep Renegade.... why? These are the 10 most extreme stretches of the "special edition" term that you could ever find.
10BMW X5 Le Mans
Many think of Dodge when it comes to playing with maximum displacement, pistons, and horsepower but BMW has fooled around in that vein as well. In 2001 they built their flagship SUV, the X5 into a Le-Mans-ready racing beast by adding not two, not three, but four extra cylinders taking the V8 to an entirely new V12, the P75 which was their racing-est race-ready engine of the time. BBS wheels were a necessary standard and reduced air restriction made the thing produce more than 700 horsepower.
The car set a Nürburgring record at 7 minutes and 49 seconds. For reference, 20 years later that SUV record is held by a Porsche Cayenne Coupe which is only 2% faster around the whole track! It's topped out at 193 mph which is nice for a car that weighs two tons and has a drag coefficient of about 32%... not aero! A roll cage tops it off and the sound of it... oh man! It could have been yours for a mere $1,000,000.
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9Volkswagen Golf Harlequin
When it came out in 1996, the Harlequin was an idea by a forward-thinking designer at Volkswagen who was tasked with making a special edition that stood out. Instead of eating up the crazy colors and uniqueness, the public understandably mistook the under-advertised thing for a crash victim. Dealers left with the car even tried to connect with other dealers to arrange to have the body panels replaced to make the cars just one color! In this case, it would've worked since all the panels of every Golf were mixed up differently in the same manner that they were trying to reverse.
That meant that four cars (for the four colors used) had a different combination of colors, each sporting hoods that were teal, purple, red, and yellow. While not a lot of people wanted it, some desperate patrons would arise and VW would go on to make 264 more than the original 3,100. An online forum has tracked down 118 real Harlequin owners as of 2015. Our buddies at Donut Media covered the story of the Harlequin.
Related: Why The Golf Harlequin Was Volkswagen’s Coolest Failure
8Audi R8 RWS
For Audi, having their trademark Quattro AWD system that sealed its legendary status in group B rally with the Audi Quattro and has been in every Audi since, it makes little sense to go to RWD, but that's what they did. The RWS or "Rear Wheel Series" is just for the R8 and is defined by an optional (recommended) $450 red stripe down the car. It comes in $26,000 less than the AWD V10, and consequently also weighs 110 lbs less by losing the extra components.
When we add the RWS to the list of those that went "too far" we mean that Audi really stuck their necks out on this one. Audi is taking after the Mercedes AMG which broke some Nürburgring records with its RWD GT over AWD cars like the Porsche 911 GT3 of the time, the R8 being made into an RWD was a complete change of platform, and while it was a worthwhile experiment, only 999 were made for this limited run.
7Skoda Felicia Fun
If you're like us, not one of these words is familiar to you except maybe Skoda, a Czech auto manufacturer who at one point wanted to toy with this Western idea of "fun." So, in 1991 they presumably used new Google to see what the world thought was "fun" and made a checklist that looked like this: Convertible? Check. As much yellow as physically possible? Check. Can fit two extra comrades? Czech.
What was a very small workhorse pickup based on the compact four-door hatchback at the time became a Subaru-Brat-like plaything with the addition of two extra chairs in the back, a soft removable top/bed cover, and a still-functional truck bed and tailgate. The yellow extended from the rims to the steering wheel and shift nob and the public bus pattern seats could be taken out with a lever to allow for less fun. The only issue with owning one of these is that you have to only haul cargo in the back that is the same yellow color as the car.
Related: Ranking The Weirdest Cars Ever Made
6Infiniti FX50 S Vettel Edition
In 2012 Infinity wanted to celebrate their victories in F1 with the Red Bull team and Sebastian Vettel, so they picked their sportiest can in the lineup to make it into an F1-like machine! ... not. They instead chose to pick on their sluggish crossover to deck out in carbon fiber including a rear wing designed by Sebastian Vettel himself! The carbon doesn't bring it below a typical 4,000 lbs, but it doesn't lack in power. The car gets 30 more horsepower in its 5 L V8 bringing it to 420 bhp.
A Chinook exhaust continually sings Vettel's praises and for just $155,000 it can be yours! Reportedly the lower and stiffer small SUV performs near Cayenne-level. Only 200 were made and now, nine years later, you can pick one up for as little as $50,000. Though Vettel doesn't drive one himself, it carries his stamp of approval.
5Levi's Edition 1975 Jeep Renegade
Special edition cars tend to look for any partner for any strange combination. In 1975 Jeep wanted to toy with having a new material besides vinyl and leather, so why no Levi? The interior door panels and seats were absolutely made with 100% Levi jean material even including rivets and seams indistinguishable from the workman's pants, and if you were lucky you could get a softcover from that same material. It's unconfirmed if this came with a patch kit, but it is possible.
Now, it wasn't like they pulled some nice rugged cotton out of the factory assembly line and says "this would make a nice top!" No, rather they did have to treat and finish the material for weather so to this day you can find mint condition material that held up very well to the test of time unless the owner tried to stonewash their car.
This car was the result of handing over the reign to American fashion designer Jeremy Scott in 2013 and if you're wondering if the wings serve any purpose well... sort of? They're based on a clear carbon fiber that allows for them to display the brake lights on their red tips and that's about it. While it looks like the normal Smart ForTwo... mostly... this one was actually electric with a very limited range but a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds assuming you managed to not tip over or take off.
The wings are the only eye-drawing feature here. Since the four-point harness can't be there just because of the Smart car's inherent speed it has to be thanks to the way it buckles; preventing pressing most nice suits and outfits in ways that might disrupt them. The wheels don't allow for disc brakes because of the electric cars braking so they can instead look like diner plates with a lost hub cap set on them.
Related: YouTuber Takes 600-HP Smart Car To CarMax, Gets Humorous Offer
3Mazda MX-5 Le Mans
Not many Le Man's editions exist and fewer still that actually make it to race day but when an ugly little orange and green Miata hit the track in 1991 no one expected this... The 700 horsepower quad-rotor Wanlke rotary engine capable of 10,000 RPMs took the win making it the only rotary since then and probably for the rest of time to win.
To celebrate, Mazda rolled out 24 Le Mans with severe upgrades from a normal MX-5 including a body kit, suspension, and a boost in horsepower from the stock model, though not quite that 700 the Le Man's car used. AS an option, most owners opted to have a BBR turbo installed, the same shared with the Le Man's race car and, frankly, a great choice for any rotary engine.
2Fiat Kung Fu Panda
In 2017 after the release of Kung Fu Panda 3, yes the Dreamworks movie voiced by Jack Black, Fiat teamed up to make the Fiat Panda into the Fiat Kung Fu Panda. To advertise its release they posted a video that clearly isn't just preexisting animations collaged in with some greenscreen shots of the Fiat. That's not the only relationship, though, as it also is intended to promote saving living pandas, and it's unclear who started this party or what they were thinking.
This was a limited edition car and we suspect that not a soul ended up buying one even though they were mildly displayed once at geneva, and yes, for sale. We suspect this because Fiat's own website has zero details except for pictures and records that it was once for sale as a limited-run car. Sorry pandas and Jack Black... you'll have to find a better business partner.
Related: A Detailed Look At The Fiat Panda
The Nissan Juke is one letter short of its true form: Joke. In fact, Grand Tour's trio took it upon themselves to make a contest in the show to find the worst car named for the Nissan Juke. Despite never being a contestant, both years the Juke won. How then can this SUV go from that to being built in almost the self-same manner as the Nismo GT-R itself? That's right, six Jukes were made in 2015 with a 545-horsepower V6 from the GT-R that made each one cost you just $590,000, or the cost of five new GT-Rs and their replacement tires! Why?
This machine was only on the very outside still a Juke. It had a new body kit, active aero, a totally different drivetrain/powertrain, a new suspension, a lower and stiffer ride height, and upgraded exhaust. It's been clocked at exactly 200 mph (reminder, this is an SUV. A Juke, even!) and rumors of a Juke-R 2.0 abound, one that can go 0-60 in under 3 seconds! Sadly, not one has made its way to the states.
Next: These Special Edition Cars Are Special In All The Wrong WaysJay Leno Admits He'll Never Master This Car In His Collection Read NextShareTweetShareEmail Related TopicsAbout The AuthorWyatt Peterson(109 Articles Published)
Wyatt is from Utah and likes to bike, ski, and drive too fast. He's written articles on motorcycles and cars for years, and especially likes Japanese cars and off-road vehicles. He has been featured in DriveTribe more than once and some of his content has had over 6.5 million views. He loves Formula 1, Formula Drift, the Baja 1000, and World Rally Cross!
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