Special-edition cars are supposed to make you feel, well, a bit more “special” than the customers who purchased municipal, ubiquitous stock versions of automobiles. And, a far cry from the Mercury Nautica Villager and Chevrolet Venture Warner Bros. Edition of yore, special-edition cars of today tend to offer upped performance levels that, joined with limited-production exclusivity, increase desirability. That means increased power, upgraded interiors and exterior components (and often, all three) which push the envelope of drive and design for what’s typically the best of an automotive manufacturers line. We’ve selected some of the specialist special-edition cars, each limited runs well beyond the “standard” version of a car, sans cheesy gimmicks and cartoon characters. These are meant to set elite buyers apart from the already elite, in proper exclusive, exquisite, elegant, extraordinary fashion.
2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
It’s the car that best pays homage to the original and still-legendary E30 M3, but with more power, more tech and more ferocity than the diminutive 3 Series could ever deliver. The 2011 1 Series M was infused with 335 horsepower from its sweet and sonorous 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engine. 0-60 mph came in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of 155. But it was more than just straight-line speed. The limited-production rocket had wickedly quick steering and razor-like handling, making it one of the most coveted BMWs in history. The limited 740 units that were made make it a true collector’s item and a special-edition car worth seeking.
Aston Martin One-77
Back in 2008 and 2009, Aston Martin had the audacity to develop the One-77, an Aston Martin among Aston Martins. Powered by a huge 7.3-liter V12 with a whopping 750 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, combined with plenty of carbon fiber and aluminum in the structure and body made it the fastest Aston Martin ever made, topping out at 220 mph. A scant 77 were made, so good luck finding one on eBay.
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse Jean Bugatti Edition
The Veyron is the supercar of supercars, drawing the attention for stratospheric horsepower and eye-watering straight line speed. The Jean Bugatti Edition pays homage to Ettore Bugatti’s son, with a vintage Bugatti Type 57C’s interior in beige and brown. The signature Bugatti grille shape is framed in platinum, as are the “EB” badges festooned on the car. There are no performance upgrades, but does a Veyron special edition need more power (as it already comes with 1,200 horsepower)? And to add to exclusivity, only three were made.
Lamborghini Veneno Coupe
The Veneno was built to commemorate Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary in 2013, and though it’s based on the Aventador, the Veneno makes run-of-the-mill Lambos look a bit vanilla. Everything about the Venemo is hyper-exclusive, including the pure carbon fiber monocoque chassis, forged composite seats and of course the 740 horsepower 6.6-liter V12 that hurtles the 3,200-pound car to 60 mph in a little over 2.5 seconds. As with the Bugatti, only three were made.
Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach Package
The Weissach Package for the 918 subtracts almost 100 pounds (from 3,715 to 3,616) off the “standard” issue, thanks to magnesium wheels, lighter brakes, ceramic wheel bearings and titanium chassis bolts. 0-60 mph arrives in 2.5 seconds, and the top speed is 214 mph from the 4.6-liter V8 paired with electric motors for 887 horsepower and 944 lb-ft of torque. The 918 Spyder Weissach Package also gets better aero bits and — get this — instead of “normal” paint, it gets a thin film coating on the exterior that weighs less. What’s more, you can get it in classic red, white and blue Martini Racing livery. The result is the first street-legal production car that lapped the famous Nürburgring in under seven minutes. How’s that for special?
2015 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe 50th Anniversary
Carroll Shelby might be gone, but his legacy lives on in the Cobra Daytona Coupe made today by Shelby American. The 1964-1965 original was built to take on Ferrari by resolving the aerodynamic limitations of the 1963 Shelby Cobra. It successfully beat Ferrari, and took the FIA World Championship. The 50th-anniversary Daytona Coupe honors that car, but gets modern bits like disc brakes, a stiffer chassis and the option of an aluminum body, combined with some original technology like a wooden steering wheel and leaf-spring suspension. Also, keep in mind that the car doesn’t come with an engine, but if you can afford the $180K for the fiberglass version or $350K for the aluminum, you’ve probably got the coin for the motor.
2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith St. James Edition
The double R’s potent coupe, the Wraith, gets even more authority in the St. James Edition. The engine is a 6.6-liter twin-turbo V12 with 624 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, enough to move the more-than-5,000-pound car to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds (faster than a Porsche 911 Carrera). The red Rolls is the most powerful car Rolls-Royce has ever made. But it’s more than just supreme power; the St. James Edition gets flaming red paint (because a Rolls is so subtle) and a customized cabin with the richest wood and leather that Wraith buyers have come to expect when they dish out this kind of coin.
Aston Martin DB9 GT
After a decade of production, the DB9 GT ($202,775) is the finest DB9. The 6.0-liter V12 gets a 30 horsepower kick to 540 horsepower and one of the best snorts in the business. 0-60 mph arrives in 4.4 seconds with a 182 mph top speed. The body is dressed up with new front and rear splitters, sinister black brake calipers and cleaner head and tail lights, and the GT can also be outfitted with carbon fiber just about everywhere.
2015 Dodge Charger R/T Mopar
Only 50 Chargers will get the upgraded Mopar Kit, with an additional 18 horsepower and 18 lb-ft of torque for a fat 388 horsepower and 413 lb-ft. The Mopar Kit also provides a new cat-back exhaust, a front strut tower brace, a cold-air intake, beefed-up powertrain controls and even a high-flow oil filter to manage the fluids. The Hellcat might be king, but the R/T Mopar is still an American potentate.
2016 BMW 435i ZHP
If you remember the E46 3 Series cars with the ZHP Performance Package, you know it was worth the extra coin to get more power and better handling on an already great sports sedan/coupe. BMW pays homage to the original ZHP with a version for the 4 Series, giving the handsome and capable two-door 35 more horsepower for a total 335 horsepower, a carbon fiber front splitter and rear spoiler, a functional diffuser, biting M Sport brakes, 18-inch wheels, Adaptive M suspension and a new variable sports steering system for better responsiveness. Only 100 will be made.
2015 Donkervoort D8 GTO Bare Naked Carbon Edition
The Dutch monster known as the D8 GTO is super light, blindingly quick and with the kind of design that makes it look like a vintage-style Batmobile. Now, Donkervoort has come up with something even more rare in the form of the Bare Naked Carbon Edition. Underneath its interminably long hood is an Audi-sourced, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that’s good for 340 horsepower. If those numbers don’t seem astounding, consider the fact that it propels a car that weighs less than 1,500 pounds (about 800 pounds lighter than a Mazda Miata). It launches to 60 mph in under three seconds, and the crazy doors flip forward with drama fit for something this nuts.