What makes a ‘special’ car? Limited production? High power and speed? Remarkable design?
All of the above could be – and often are – combined to make a Special Edition car, and it’s certainly an interesting and effective way of building mystique around a model.
If done too much, though, are special editions still 'special'? A car has to be special in order to deserve special edition recognition, but excessive special editions undermine the original car's special-ness.
Fiat is guilty of this with the 500; which seems to get a new special edition every month. With such a sunny, quirky and strong-selling car, a special edition here and there reinforces the heritage element of the model. The 1957 and Pink editions were excellent brand-builders, drawing respectively upon the car's heritage and character - the two strong points of the model.
But with the multitude of 500 special editions, it’s getting difficult to differentiate one from the next, and the whole thing becomes a big mush of two-tone paint, retro trim, and now meaningless ‘1 of 250’ plaques.
Often, higher-end brands get in on the action; think Bugatti with the Veyron, Pagani with the Zonda or the one-off Rolls-Royce models - a prime example can be found here. These one-off or limited edition cars are often indistinguishable from the standard car, aside from seat embroidery, or the smallest smearing of carbon fibre interior trim known to man.