Offbeat

Zesty Chinese Zodiac Cars

These may be special editions, but they're also easy money makers for the automakers.

Every new lunar year, you can bet dollars to donuts that there will be a glut of "Year of the ____" products released. Most of these items are garbage cash grabs, but some are awesome. And out of the small percentage of the products that are awesome, some are cars. Now, automakers love to find reasons to build special editions simply because they can charge more and generate easy profit. When it comes to Chinese New Year cars and the ever-growing Chinese market, it's a win-win combination.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Year of the Dragon started off 2012 in a big way, selling out within two months of its debut in China. Rolls-Royce Pasadena (California) has decided to customize a stable of Ghosts in the same vein as the Year of the Dragon Phantom. No engine mods, but both rides feature sweet embroidered golden dragons.

I can't think of a more perfect car to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit than the Smart ForTwo. This bunnified Smart (peep the rabbits on the gas cover and shifter knob) debuted at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show and was limited to a mere 300 units. No word on whether or not those 300 units are still sitting in a Smart warehouse somewhere.

Aston Martin has decided to try and cash in on the Year of the Dragon with their limited-edition Dragon88 custom package. The Dragon88 custom package is available for the V8 Vantage, Virage and DBS. Aston Martin has been mum on the details, but the package is said to include a dragon embroidery, 10-spoke dragon wheels and a Bang and Olufsen speaker system with headset.

The BMW M3 Tiger was created to celebrate; you guessed it, the Year of the Tiger! The M3 Tiger featured a tiger orange paint job, 19-inch wheels and an interior covered in black Novilla leather. Only 250 of these were made, which instantly earns this car a spot on the endangered species list.

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