Some special editions are the wrong kind of special.
Every year sees a fresh batch of special edition cars claiming headlines across the automotive media industry. Sometimes, they're crass but effective marketing pieces, and sometimes they are well thought out branding tie-ins. Sometimes, special editions are built to celebrate an automaker's milestone, anniversary, or a person important to the brand's history. Sometimes though, they are the kind of thing you look at in complete and utter confusion. These are the ones we've seen over the years that have left us either laughing or utterly bewildered. Sometimes, both at the same time.
The Smart ForJeremy was not an April Fool's joke. It showed up in 2012 at the Los Angeles Auto Show, and, despite not being a deliberate joke, we haven't stopped laughing since. It's the result of a collaboration between Mercedes-Benz Cars Advanced Design Studios and famed fashion designer Jeremy Scott. For reasons we must be too uncultured to understand, it has an aeronautical art deco theme throughout, including a yoke-style steering wheel inside. The outside has plenty of chrome and propeller-styled wheels. We mention those features because you have to drag your eyes away from the preposterous wings to notice them.
When Mercedes misses the mark with a special edition, well, it ends up with things like this. It makes little sense to attach an F1 driver's name to one of Mercedes's least sporty models - the 1999 era A-Class. So, to celebrate Mika Hakkinen's 1998 Formula 1 world championship title, the German automaker chose to commemorate the event with a special edition A-Class hatchback. Mercedes made 250 of the A160 Hakkinen Edition in 1998. The press release describes them as coming "in the colors of the McLaren Mercedes Formula-1 racing car, which for the first time was re-painted in silver, evoking memories of the legendary 'Silver Arrow.'"
The Polish built Fiat Seicento was also known as the Fiat 600 in Europe. It featured an incredibly low safety rating and either a 900 cc or 1.1-liter engine. It also made 54 horsepower in its Sporting trim and could make the 0-60 mph run in 10 seconds downhill and with a tailwind. Somehow, someone, somewhere, got paid to come up with a worse F1 driver tribute special edition than Mercedes. It was the Sporting trim with an Abarth body kit, a chrome gear lever surround, and Schumacher's signature printed on the side skirts and trunk.
When Disney rebooted the Star Wars franchise, there was a tremendous amount of hype. Rogue One was a science-fiction movie showing how the Death Star plans reached Princess Leia at the beginning of Star Wars. It featured robots, laser guns, a laser sword, and an epic space ship battle. What it didn't feature was a single car, let alone a crossover SUV. The only link to the Star Wars prequel movie is that the Nissan Rogue is called the Rogue. We like the Rogue, we love Star Wars, but this has to be one of the least thought through and laziest special editions yet.
The first Iron Man movie kick-started the incredibly successful Marvel Universe franchise. In a savvy piece of product placement, Billionaire tech genius Tony Stark drives an Audi R8. In his car collection, we see a 1932 Ford Flathead roadster, a Saleen S7, a 1967 Shelby Cobra, and a prototype Tesla Roadster. So, why the Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition edition exists is beyond our ken. What makes us smile, though, is just how detailed the Iron Man Edition is. It features Iron Man emblems on both front fenders, Stark Industries decals on the front bumper and rear liftgate, engraved headlamp surrounds, a dark chrome front grille, and Iron Man logo center caps on the wheels. It also features a large Iron Man mask printed across the roof. Inside there's just as much detail and fun, including Tony Stark's signature and a head-up display featuring graphics styled upon the ones that appear inside the Iron Man helmet.
You may not have heard of the small-market Corolla Altis ESport Nurburgring Edition as it came courtesy of Toyota's Thai division and showed up at the Bangkok Motor Show in 2015. Nurburgring editions aren't unusual in the automotive world, but this may be the only one with a 141 hp engine and CVT transmission. Even more head-scratchingly, it also appears that it commemorates a seventh-place class finish in 2014's 24-hour race on the Nordschleife circuit. This one was a true medal-for-mediocrity if ever there was one.
The AMC TV series The Walking Dead is a zombie horror show set in the US, and about to head into its tenth season. TV show special editions aren't that common, but we would have expected a truck or an SUV model for a post-apocalyptic tie-in. Instead, the 2014 Hyundai Tucson got a black paint job with red Walking Dead themed graphics, custom mudguards, custom floor mats, and came with a 72-hour "survivalist's backpack." But, at least it came with the all-wheel-drive option ticked.
For those not old enough to remember, there was once a manufactured all-girl pop group from the UK called the Spice Girls. They were insanely successful globally in the mid to late 1990s before the ride ended at the end of the century. Victoria Adams was "Posh Spice" before going on to become a style icon and fashion designer. She also, coincidentally, married to an incredibly successful football player, David Beckham, in 1999.
The special edition features things like rose gold highlights, a bespoke his-and-hers luggage set, tan leather seats that remind her of the family's time in California, and matte-grey paint because Beckham wanted it to be masculine. Nobody outside of Land Rover really cared, though. Not even Beckham, it appears, as hers went up for sale three years later with just 1,400 miles on the clock.
Aston Martin is a brand that encapsulates style and sophistication, elegance and speed. So, why someone decided that an ugly color scheme from an energy drink is beyond us. Yes, at the time, Aston Martin and Red Bull's racing teams had joined forces to develop the AM-RB 001 hypercar, but that was no reason to inflict this color scheme on such a beautiful car. Even having it signed by a couple of F1 racing drivers couldn't save it from such lazy ugliness.
This is another Red Bull linked special edition but with F1 driver Sebastian Vettel's name on it following his back to back championship titles for the 2010-2013 seasons. If you're scratching your head about what an Infiniti crossover SUV might have to with Vettel, the logic goes like this: Red Bull racing was using Renault engines. Renault is partnered with Nissan. Nissan owns the Infiniti brand. After that, we're as clueless as you are. It did come with some carbon-fiber body panels, a V8 engine making over 400 hp, and Vettel himself designed the rear wing. So, there's that, but the link between Vettel and the Infiniti brand is a stretch at best.
In 2005, and for those that needed to get their bags of potting soil home from Home Depot in record time, Dodge brought the "historic Daytona nameplate to the Dodge Ram line of pickup trucks." It came in two colors, Go ManGo! or Silver Metallic and featured a performance-style hood scoop, a Borla exhaust system, and an absurd 11-inch rear spoiler amplified by Daytona graphics down the sides. It wasn't even that powerful, with a 5.7-liter HEMI engine making just 345 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque. A few more than 10,000 were built, meaning plenty of people must have liked it. We just don't see why.