From my post yesterday, you might get the feeling that I think all special editions are bad. That isn’t true. Occasionally, a car company makes a special edition when it’s not desperate. And occasionally, it’s pretty good – even if it doesn’t include extra horsepower. This post details all those special editions that were surprisingly tolerable – even if they were mostly unique badging and special paint.
Chevrolet Venture Warner Brothers Edition
The Venture Warner Brothers Edition got a lot of hate in yesterday’s comments section, but I’m not entirely sure why. It had many strong selling points, chief among them the WB logo in back that replaced the Chevy bowtie – so no one had to know you were driving a U-body. Too bad it still said “Venture” on the tailgate.
Of course, another major selling point was its rear entertainment package, which gave drivers a choice between DVD and VHS. Those who picked the latter are likely regretting their choice, but probably no more than their decision to buy a Venture in the first place.
In the end, the Venture WB was enough of a hit that it inspired the Sienna Symphony, a copycat special edition from Toyota. Of course, in true Toyota fashion, the Sienna Symphony was better looking, drove more smoothly, and didn’t have Bugs Bunny on the tailgate.
Volkswagen Jetta Trek / K2
Even the Germans aren’t immune to the allure of run-out special editions. Witness the Jetta Trek and Jetta K2, which came with a bike or a set of skis depending on which model you chose. As anyone who took advantage of the promotion will tell you, it was a pretty neat idea since it was the only way to guarantee you got something that worked when you bought a Jetta III.
Dodge Dakota Convertible
The Dakota Convertible was perfect because it cornered a market that had been largely ignored since the 1920s: the open-top pickup buyer. Hate all you want, but they sold hundreds of these, or possibly dozens. Every one was sold to drivers excited about the possibility of heading out on a warm summer day, dropping the top and going for a cruise … with a couch in the back.
Range Rover Autobiography
Owning a Range Rover is like being part of a special club. That club is called “other drivers won’t let you over in traffic.” They’re also part of the “air suspension ticking time bomb” club, but that one’s not as exclusive since it was founded by S-Class owners.
Owning an Autobiography Edition puts you in even rarer company: the “only valets will know how much I spent” club. That’s because the highly subtle Autobiography is $30,000 more than the Supercharged, which is $12,000 more than the HSE. So why is it on this list?
Because to the kind of people who buy Range Rovers, it’s perfect. Nothing is left off. It’s the ultimate SUV, saying “Out of my way, peasant!” every time you turn the key. It just doesn’t say it very loudly.
Subaru Outback LL Bean Edition
While I’m not usually a fan of clothing company-car company joint ventures, you have to respect the Subaru Outback LL Bean Edition for no other reason than it showed just how well Subaru knows its customers. Perhaps the only way they could’ve improved it would’ve been a standard “MV” sticker on the back window.
The Outback LL Bean is also praiseworthy because it had a lot of stuff Subaru owners actually wanted. Standard features included leather upholstery, heated front seats, a regulation softball bat and a subscription to “Curve” magazine.
Some of that is true.
Ford F-150 Harley Davidson Edition
Never mind Jesus. Real men love only two things: Harleys and pickup trucks. Armed with this knowledge, Ford created a pickup truck with Harley badging and a throaty exhaust. First offered only in F-150 guise, it eventually expanded to Super Duty models so real men didn’t have to compromise.
At some point, it also added flames. I have no idea why this was done, though I think it may have been because Ford market research discovered real men also like fire.
Mercedes SL-Class Silver Arrow Edition
The age of a person’s SL-Class tells you a lot about when they had their money. A Sam Rothstein-style 1970s “R107” SL-Class, for example, tells you the driver probably had cash in the ‘70s before divorcing her husband. Now she uses alimony to maintain it. An early 2003ish R230 SL-Class is probably someone who bought it used last year, and can only sleep by crossing his fingers and hoping the top doesn’t break.
But a 2002 R129 “Silver Arrow Edition” reeks of class. It also reeks of leather cleaner, since they only came with white seats. Get past that, and you’ve got a distinctive Mercedes sold in small numbers. Sort of like the C-Class hatchback.
Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, roadtripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute laptime on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.