Blog : Base – how low can you go?

Dealer special editions: Mike Humble takes a sideways look at the once mind-blowing array of Limited or ‘Special’ edition cars and wonders if makers could have stooped any lower for custom!

A special edition too far

Mary Quant alongside yet another special edition – The Mini Designer

City, Merit, Popular… ‘ah yes.’ I hear you cry, ‘the poverty spec models from Austin Rover, Vauxhall and Ford. And the first step on the ladder for budget concious motorists after a cheap car.

I’m sure many of you up and down the land would go to sleep praying that your mum or dad would not buy the Champagne Beige Austin Maestro City or powder blue Ford Escort 1100 Popular, as depicted in the brochure stuffed down the side of the armchair nestling among the TV Times with Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin on the cover.

These entry-level chariots of doom featured lovely plastic blanks where the wireless or cigar lighter should be, fixed back non-reclining seats minus the headrests, and clad in wonderful vinyl. They all offered added misery when sitting in traffic on those long summer holiday drives to the coast, not even the crackly sound of BBC Radio One to take away the pain of looking at the the exposed painted metal inside the car – oh, the horror!

Remember the Morris Marina LE?

But wait! Back in the halcyon days, when watching ITV didn’t make you want to throw a brick through the screen of your wood-effect ITT Trinitron 24in Colour set (our’s was on castors too) to alleviate the drudgery of buying a base model car, the manufacturers (or even the dealers) produced their Special Editions. These added kudos and mystique to an erstwhile poverty spec car.

My own first exposure to this came ages ago, when my father came home in a Morris Marina 1.3LE coupe which I can still remember the reg number: DNV 207T. I loved this car and, in fact, my dad kept it for years. The ingredients were simple – take a two-door Marina, make it look exactly like the 1.8 GT, simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes, then add a 1275 A-Series engine. Allow to cool and fit a brown vinyl roof – et voila – one limited edition.

Looking back, it was dreadful, the fake wood on the dash and glovebox was about as convincing as your average Elvis tribute act and the striped nylon seats were as pleasing on the eye as staring at the sun!

It wasn’t all bad, though

Oddly though, I liked the car for it’s snazzy looking Cibie Iode 35 driving lamps in the grille, a rev counter, twin tone horns, 165/13 tyres, electric clock, Sundym tinted glass, rear armrest, push button Radiomobile MW/LW wireless and lamps in the glovebox and boot. How I never fainted being overcome with the standard equipment levels in 1978, to this day I’ll never know. But it was a proper limited edition car in a lovely colour – Oyster metalic I recall.

Though it looked like an 1800 GT, it sadly wasn’t. The poor little 1275cc A-Series plant offered 57bhp on a good day, and I can remember my dad giving it some beans on the M55 to Blackpool one summer. 90mph was the best she’d do and the screaming engine was drowned out by the shreiks of fear from the rest us squashed into the Bri-Nylon clad rear seat.

My suggestion to Alton Towers of the ‘drive the Marina over 90’ terror-ride was turned down by Tussaud’s HSE dept. So they went for the two lesser frightening rides: Oblivion and Nemesis.

What could eclipse this?

The XR3 with a 1.3 – The breathless Escort Eclipse

On a personal level, I think Ford and Austin Rover went edition crazy back in the 1980s. The Mini had seemingly millions of editions such as Chelsea, Ritz, Advantage, Mary Quant to name but a few. While the Metro suffered a similar plethora of sometimes pointless models like the Sport, Moritz, Principles, Red Hot, Jet Black and Advantage, for example.

But at least they were real manufactured editions. The ones to really grind my gears were the dealers’ own special editions. Only today I saw a Ford Escort Sundance – but, strangely, it seemed to be nothing other than a Popular Plus with a sunroof. It just goes to show how gullible car buyers used to be.

Dealers would stop at nothing or use any topical event to sling on a set of wheel covers, bedeck the car with some side stripes, take an air saw to the roof, and fit a radio/cassette deck that would eventually munch and destroy any half decent album for your listening pleasure.

Naming a car after a TV franchise?

One model I do recall, which incidentally shows how you can sink further if you really try, was the Fiesta Meridian which was available from your local Ford ‘Southern’ dealer. Many of you may recall when the ITV network went through a massive shake up, Thames, TVS and TV-am including others lost their franchise licence to broadcast, TV-am became GM-TV while the legendary Thames became Carlton.

What has this to do with cars you may think, bear with me reader – I’m coming to the crux. Down here, TVS lost out to Meridian broadcasting. On the stroke of Midnight in came 1993, and the first advert on the all new ITV channel was for the Ford Fiesta Meridian.

The advert might have had a voiceover by a slightly younger Steven Fry, but the car was a disappointment – it was nothing more than an L model with metallic paint and logo. Working as a mechanic at the time, these cheap and nasty add-ons were part of my remit – and, when I ponder on this, I hang my head in shame. But I still have the magic touch with a roll of pinstripe!

The treats within: Vauxhall Cavalier Calibre

Where once, your average punter would go weak-kneed and giddy at the thought of a Hyundai Pony Sport Special (with white Weller wheels, front spot lamps, twin coachlines and a Richard Grant glue-on tail spoiler), for better or for worse the buying public are more switched on these days.

Even your basic Corsa these days features a CD and power steering – so those disgusting dealer specials are now just a fond or painful memory. The bona fide manufacturers limited editions could be quite tasteful, take Vauxhall Opel and the Cavalier Commander of 1985 in silver paint and wide profile tyres on anthracite Astra SR rims – it looked superb.

The Manta Exclusive run-out model equally so, yet Vauxhall also did the Antibes based on the Nova, Astra and Cavalier with awful doom blue paintwork and a seat trim that looked worse than hessian wall paper, all topped off with some sexy brilliant white wheel trims. Who remembers the stunning Vauxhall Cavalier Calibre though? The thinking man’s SRi…

Saving the best ’til last – the East European cars

Even the Soviets were in on the act with the Lada Niva Cossack – yes, it was a production model but converted from the normal bitterly crude standard model in a big tin shed on the North Yorkshire coast. The Samara Flyte also was dressed up here in the UK, but with truly awful quality, the Skoda Rapid convertible hailed from a specialist coachmaker in Kent, and dare I say it, a fine looking car too.

Even shockingly bad cars like the FSO Polonez Prima could be found looking like a dog’s dinner with body colour coded spoilers and wheels looking about as appealing as a dropped trifle.

But to end another nostalic ramble, I recall hearing a tale about someone who owned a dealer edition Rover Metro who ran into the back of a stationary car at some speed. No serious injuries were sustained, but a rear seat passenger was almost knocked out by an aftermarket pod speaker that came away from the parcel shelf – part of the Metro’s exclusive additional equipment so I was told!

However, I have saved the best (or worst) ’til last. Enjoy this Fiat Panda Italia 90 special edition… and please do tell me if I’m right or wrong!

Panda Italia 90 – just check out those wheel trims!
Mike Humble


  1. I for one hate those despicable dealer editions of which I think devalues the car.  And then to top it off they add “what the hell” name to it. The manufactures are guilty of this practice. In Devon and Cornwall we had the “Ford Fiesta Sea-spray”. A awful car based on the Popular base model.

    The other issue here is the addition of unbelievable bits of kit (see the Panda’s wheels) of which looks out of place.I for one when looking to add bits of kit to any of my cars, Look in the manufactures parts bins. Alloy wheels on a Rover P6? Then fit SD1’s. My brother fitted Focus wheels to his Escort. And of course if you put GSi wheels on your Si they don’t look out of place.As for after-market kit, I’m not all that keen.

  2. In 1980 Hull’s two rugby league teams, Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers, played each other in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley. This prompted the local Datsun dealer to bring out two special editions of the Sunny. Both had a part vinyl roof and stripes applied down the sides. The difference was the colour scheme – black and white for FC supporters, red and white for Rovers fans. Don’t recall seeing many on the roads, although the city was pretty deserted that day. A truly cringeworthy idea but you can’t blame them for trying, I guess! One benefit of the dealer special, I guess, is that you didn’t need to manufacture lots and hope they’d sell: I imagine most were built to order.

  3. The very last 1000 Fabia vRS’s came in a previously un avaible colour, with a few extras thrown on. Most notably, Leather seats..The Leather was actually fitted here in blighty though, the cars shipped over in the correct colour (which, apparently, had always been an option in main land europe).. and then the optional, dealer fit, leather was slapped on them.. so, really.. it seems quite unique to us but it’s just got a few more boxes ticked on the build sheet.

  4. NB. The Metro Sport wasn’t a special edition, it was simply the MG Metro without the MG badge. Introduced around the time that AR started to debadge their cars, Where the ‘M’ cars all lost their AR badges and gained grey shields with the model name on them.What i never understood is why AR used to produce their poverty spec cars in crap colours, Champagne (Baby Vomit) Beige and Chocolate (Poo Brown)? Ford used to make theirs in decent solid colours. So while you were still lucky to get upholstered seats rather than wooden benches, they at least didn’t look like a turd from the outside.It’s not as if it cost any more to paint a car in Red or Blue rather than Brown or Beige.

  5. I’m quite pleased that we are largely free of the base-model ‘limited’ (eg tarted-up) edition – it was bad enough that amateur Pininfarinas could buy things like ghastly fake alloy wheels (plastic covers), side stripes, badges saying ghastly things like ‘powered by fairy dust’ (vomit), rear window louvres (remember them?), but to then have dealers wield the same style suicide on some poor Joe’s brand new wheels – doubly cruel!

    The ‘special’ (in the same vein as ‘oddball’, or ‘undesirable’) editions foisted upon us over the years, and especially by BL & ARG are truly risable. However, there are a few notable exceptions.

    1) The Mini Racing Green, Checkmate and Flame, and the Italian Job – precursors of the reinvented Cooper,
    2) The Princess Special Six (not strictly a base model, but a beautiful looking car nonetheless),
    3) Vauxhall Chevette 2300 HS ‘Black Magic’ – these cars had me transfixed when I first saw them – absolutely gorgeous things, and Ok, not a base model, but come on – it’s a ‘Shove-it’
    4) Ford Capri 280 Brooklands – no grown man can deny that this is the king of Cap-ris!,
    5) Austin Ambassador Sprint (Ok, there’s no such thing – it’s a title my Dad and I gave our Ambo, due to it’s total lack of any sporting pretensions)…….that is all……… 

    • I know this a comment on an ancient post, but the Italian Job was from 1993, three years after the Cooper came back full time. Fitted with the carb-feb 1275cc lump, but fitted with the earlier type of seats, it is an interesting diversion from the standard models. My mate has one, which is used as a school ferry for his two kids.

  6. The bad special editions noted above where not official manufaturers versions, but just a job lot of Popular/City/Merit versions fitted with stripes and pop up sun roofs by the local dealers body shops.

    I suspect manufacturers would take a dim view these days of dealers going native in this way. There where some good special editons though. What about the Crusader run out version of the Cortina? Effectively a Ghia for the price of an L. Still seem to be loads of these about as well as quick look on Ebay will confirm.

  7. Worst one I remember was a Glasgow-based dealer special on a MK2 Fiesta Popular. This had a full XR2 bodykit but still retained the thin Popular wheels which made it look very odd matched with the basic interior and clear glass. It was badged up as the Fiesta XRL as I recall.  Chap I knew traded in a 2 year-old Metro VdP for his in 1986…

  8. My mother had a Talbot Horizon LE.  It was special cos it had stripes, the 1.5 rattler instead of the 1.3 and, get this, headrests in the front.  Being a runout model before the ‘Series 2’, it still had the tiny boot and horrific 4 speed gear box.

  9. @Alastairw – Talbot were the KINGS of the awful limited edition – probably explained why they died such a horrible death………

  10. This brings back memories!  I remember back in the day that my Dad’s Escort 1.6D L estate (on a B reg) was considered cooler than a friend’s Dad’s Escort 1.8D Popular (on an F reg) with see through headrests and no wheeltrims (Ford’s way of making your cheapness obvious to the neighbours).  Badge recognition was all the rage back in the Eighties and Nineties.  I’ve had several Ford Escort special editions, the first was a G reg Bonus 90 1.3 in Mercury Grey – the first thing I did was attack the decal on the back with a hairdryer to remove it, followed by replacing the standard wheeltrims with Fiesta 1.6S versions and the interior with a second-hand XR3i one.  

    Oh, and a five speed gearknob to hide the fact that it had a four speed gearbox.  This confused my Dad when he was trying to reverse it out of the drive, reverse was actually next to first, but the gearknob showed it being below (non-existent) fifth, meaning he selected fourth gear and nearly went into the back of his new Mondeo Si.  I managed to actually go into the back of his Mondeo about a month later when I selected first instead of reverse – fortunately there was no damage to his car due to his towbar, which punched a neat hole in the Escort’s bumper.  I also had an Eclipse like the one above, only a 1.3 (but a very economical one, mine did 40mpg all day long despite being driven like the XR3i it was supposed to look like – but didn’t.)  

    That was an example of a really good value special edition; for about the same price as a pretty basic Escort 1.3L you got fancy metallic paint, a colour coded rear spoiler, XR3i wheels, tyres and trims, electric windows, central locking, rev counter and a better interior with a rear armrest.  I loved that car – I’m going to buy another one one day.  The final Escort special edition I had was a 1.8D Quartz – basically an old specification LX that Ford had in stock when they upgraded the LX model. &nbsp

    ;They’d not even bothered to replace the LX badge with the Quartz badge on mine!

  11. The most appropriate name for a base model was on the Vauxhall Nova D Merit saloon – a car with no discernible positive features whatsoever. 

  12. Ford also did a Fiesta Van special edition – the XRV, basically a Fiesta Van with a colour-coded bodykit from the Ford Accessories catalogue, colour coded bumpers with a blue insert à la XR2i and a rear “XRV” decal.  

    Most were based on the 1.8 Diesel in red, but I’ve got a brochure showing a white one stating that you could have one based on any Fiesta van in stock.  Quite a cool idea, a sports-style van, probably influenced by the amount of youngsters doing up Escort vans because of the cheaper insurance and the fact you could put a single mattress in the back 😉     

  13. Great to read an item about those “limited editions” built in their thousands!  I remember the Escort Eclipse MKIV and the MKV Escort Encore which appeared very quick after launch of that range.A Ford dealer where I lived issued special “Kingfisher” editions of Fiesta & Escort Populars with nothing more than white wheelcovers & stripes added.  The BL dealer in town did a special Montego “Diplomat” version which had the word Diplomat painted (not striped) on the bonnet & boot by a proper signwriter… crucial stuff!

  14. Just saw a new Fiat 500 “Gucci” today…that was quite unpleasant, redolent of a big, effete, training shoe.

  15. That Fiesta special edition is pretty good, but I think the D Merit takes the biscuit, I’m not sure whether Vauxhall were trying to say it was demerit or a good grade D though.I always liked the German approach to special editions in the 80s; no equipment at all. No radio, no power steering and windy windows were all standard on your 89 318i. As late as ’94 you could spend £27k on a Merc E200 estate and have to wind your windows up, although the wood looked good with no obtrusive switches stuck in it. 

  16. Anyway. The important (for Montego facelift and R8 fans) special edition seems to be the Escort “Bravo”, it was the predeccesor to the 1987 “LX” which came bedecked with the satin black under rubbing strip treatment and red inserts slapped on a lowly “L”.

  17. I’ve just remembered another one!  Around 1999, when Millennium fever was at its greatest, a local Ford dealer found itself stuck with a load of N and P reg Escort 1.3 base models – end of contract Mobility cars.  

    Us Yorkshiremen are notoriously canny (or tight, depending how you view us), so these Mobility cars were the specification that required no additional payment or deposit.  The trouble is, no-one wanted to buy them three years down the line.  I well remember the line up of base Escorts in dull, flat colours (metallic paint costs extra, don’t forget), sat on their castor-like 13″ wheels.  

    Some bright spark had the idea of creating a special edition, the LE2000 if I remember rightly, basically a set of naff stripes, decals and a cheap rear spoiler, all for £3995.  Amidst a massive advertising campaign, they flew out of the door!  

    They then started advertising decent spec Focus Zetecs with optional aircon, free metallic paint and no deposit to Motability customers, so that they wouldn’t get caught out again with a forecourt full of cars that nobody wanted.

  18. @Andrew Elphick  I bet the Escort “Bravo” was the first non-sporty car to wear a red bumper insert then – I can’t think of any cars with red inserts (apart from GTis, Ghia Injections etc) before that.  I so wanted a car with red bumper inserts at the time…

  19. Dealer specials are still out there.VW Golf MK IV GT TDI’s are a perfect example. Nothing more than a Golf TDI Highline with a dealer stuck on badge 

  20. @ Elphick, you are correct.

    I always believed those small vans for Irish market only in RHD. They were great though and very popular back in the day. Most small cars could be had in commercial flavour 

  21. I was given a Metro Studio 2 as a company car.  Someone at work said Studio 2 was a shampoo (which might well be true) and it stuck.  Couldn’t wait to get out of it.  Remember also a neighbour had a Metro Manhattan with the crudest outline of the Manhattan skyline along the side.  Later I had a Renault 19 Biarritz of Harry Enfield fame.  

    Aside from the stickers the only distinguishing feature was an electric motor to raise/lower the glass sunroof – it didn’t slide.  My mother had a MkII Ford Orion LX around the same time in a bluey grey metallic.  Great-looking car but it lacked everything you would expect of a car now – airbags, power steering, power windows – none were present.   

  22. I’ve had a few special editions in my time, but the one that sticks in my memory for being a good one was my ’98 metallic green Mondeo Verona.Special alloys marked it out, as did the standard air-con, which not even the Ghia model had at the time. Infact, few cars, apart from execs, had air-con it seemed. Everyone who had a ride loved it.

    The other thing that stands out was the lack of special edition badging. The Verona was based on the LX, but quite a few of the 97-98 cars, including mine, were badged LX on the boot. The wheels were the giveaway though, along with the paperwork.Ford used the Verona badge three times on different versions of the Mondeo, I guess they liked the name!

  23. First car I can ever remember was a Mini ‘Neon’ of early 1990s. It might have been a cynical marketing ploy, but my parents had several other Minis over the following decade and I can only remember the complete details, including position and colour of the pinstripe of that one!

  24. I am always fascinated by how clever marketing psychology behind the  a ‘special edition’ or ‘limited edition’ derivative creates more magnetism with potential customers than the standard models on which they are based, even on models that are already well liked and selling in reasonable numbers. 

    Admittedly ‘Anniversary’ specials are of particular interest to me, especially if they go beyond just enhanced specification to embrace new colour and trim initiatives. Read as Range Rover Classic ’25th Anniversary Final Edition’, Mini ’40’ and the Rover 200 ‘BRM LE’.The Ford Escort ‘Eclipse’ was actually a very effective model to stimulate interest in the runout phase of the old Escort in 1990 before the new generation model came on stream.

    Available in metallic red or blue, there was actually more demand for this model than Ford had anticipated. Two years later, and with the new generation Escort struggling to be a sales success, Ford repeated the formula; this time under the ‘Encore’ name.Austin Rover Group did some great special editions in the 1980s such as the ‘Red Hot’ and ‘Jet Black’ for the Mini and Metro, ‘Advantage’ for the Metro, Maestro and Montego, Mini ‘Designer’, ‘Advantage’, ‘Chelsea’ and ’30’, to name but a few, and the Metro ‘ARX’ and ‘Principles’.

    Some models like the Maestro MG Turbo and 1991 ‘XX’ Rover 820 Turbo 16V as limited editions even featured cosmetic changes and fettling to the engineering under the bonnet.Sadly many of these cars are nothing more than just a distant memory these days as surviving numbers enter into double or even single figures.

  25. I think there is always some confusion over the definition of  ‘special edition’ compared to ‘limited edition’.

    I hae always interpreted a ‘limited edition’ to be where production output/number is pre-determined before production starts, regardless of actual demand or length of time they take to sell. In other words, supply is actually fixed. Think of Range Rover Classic ’25th Anniversary Final Edition’ (25 built), Maestro MG Turbo (500 built) or MG TF 500 (500 built).

    A ‘special edition’ is a model where total production has not been accurately forecast and is based more on the time period it is offered for sale and produced. In other words, while there is demand, supply will look to meet it, so is therefore more flexible. Think of Ford Escort ‘Eclipse’, Peugeot 309 ‘Look’ or Mini ‘Rose’, ‘Sky’, ‘Flame’ or ‘Racing’.

  26. Ahh the special’s.. Stan

    “COWIE’s” in Sunderland were always knocking these out as Mike already
    describes, Fiesta Pop with a sunroof, coach lines and wait for it…Mud Flaps,
    striking stuff! There was usually a low payment of finance to go with it,
    Wonder if you were still able to buy if you had the cash?. Ford Dealers were
    probably the best at this sort of crime, And I remember they always had a
    picture of an XR2 with optional extras such as Pepper Pot Alloys, spot lights,
    sunroof etc and in very small letters from Then the Basic Price of the Popular
    Fiesta, I Imagine many Salesmen had to comfort respected Punters as they
    explained the price was for a car that didn’t even have wheel Trims…And an XR
    model was just for “Illustrated Purposes”.

    The specials that were in our family were, Bright orange Chrysler Horizon
    LE with Talbot on the boot lid and “special edition” worded in its coach
    lines (possibly by a previous owner?) A red Austin Mini Metro “Midnight” which
    consisted of a Black sticker across the lower tailgate (don’t recall anything
    else different) but am sure was a City model with the smaller Head lights.

    Fiesta Dash in white (950 Pop on the log book) which had four coulured
    pin stripe, L type high back seats with unique pattern (speckled pin stripes
    colours but basically overwhelming grey) propperl headrests and full door trims,
    even a bit of sound deadening, this was a factory “SP” as I even managed to get
    the stripes from the Ford Parts.

    Another Fiesta this time a Festival, which was a run out of the MK2
    before the MK3 came out! mine was the 1.6D version which was actually quite well
    specked in its day, again full interior but with garish seat trim but it did
    have the Ghia/XR type full dashboard (Instead of the tiny takeaway box) which I
    think was by now standard on the L (no GL on the MK2s) and the Ford Digi Radio
    that thieves kept breaking in for…

  27. I worked at a Fiat dealer in 1990 and yes the “Italia 90” was a genuine special edition.

    We also had a large number of Pandas and Unos as pre reg specials that I converted to a dealer special badged as “Bonita”. Sunroof, radio cassette and some vinyl stripes and we were away…..oh the shame….

  28. @Simon Hodgetts quite!

    Similarly the Horizon Ultra, Pullman and (with glorious lack of effort) the Summertime Special

  29. @ Mark Lee, my aunt had one of those Bonita S.E Pandas!Wasn’t the Princess Special Six Auto a deliberate product to hide the fact that manual cars were temporarily ‘off’ the menu until they fixed the problem?

    A very confusing SE from Renault that preceded the Biarritz, the 19 GTS-X, What was that about? Was it a GTS or a GTX? Will we ever know….

  30. I remember the Italia 90 Pandas well, there were a couple around these parts as I recall. What about the Polo harlequin?  Anyone remember that monster?! For many years there was one in my hometown, last seen about 5 years back and rather rusty.  Was it a special or limited edition I wonder.Back in the mid 90s my folks were after a new family motor, both my Dad and I were most keen on a Rover 200.  In the end to my dissapointment they got a Carina E “Solair” (the right thing really, a much bigger car for less ££s) the solair referring to it having aircon instead of a sunroof. 

    But I distinctly remember seeing one of the Rover dealer emplyees pin striping just about every car on the forecourt.  A friend owned a Seat Marbella “Jeans” – the door cards and seat fabric looked like they were made of denim, funnily enough. What an awful car that was, about 700cc under the bonnet I think!

  31. As mentioned earlier in this thread, The “kingfisher” special editions from ford were I think unique to ford dealers in the North East of England? My parents had one on a G plate (G772SFT if your still out there although I suspect not). This was an escort 1.4 L3 door but with a few changes: Metalic blue paint; front spot lights; Front seats similar to those you would find in an XR3I (the sports wrap around type); wider wheels but not alloys and with wheel trims; Oh, and a spoiler on the back similar to that on the XR3 and a front spoiler too which constantly got mashed in car parks.  

    So, the car had sporty pretentions but was let down by the 1.4 engine. Also the spoiler was a liability when it snowed as snow would accumulate on the spoiler and cause the boot lid to crash down when you were least expecting it when loading in your shopping. Reliability wise, the car had faults too numerous to mention, and when it was sold in 1995, it was rusting around the rear wheel arches, so I suspect it didn’t live to see the year 2000 although I may be wrong. the white Escort 1.4 L my parents had previously was probably equally as good, but this was stolen so the Kingfisher was an emergency replacement but was I thought infinitley cooler as it turned my parents in to would-be boy racers. 

  32. Fantastic thread…One that still makes me smile 28 years on, was a schoolteacher of mine who i remember taking delivery of his brand new Vaxhall Chevette (shuv-it we all called it).Aparently the poor sod was legged up by the salesman that this ’84 on a B, brown 4 door specimen (I kid you not..) was a limited edition to commemorate being the last Chevette to be sold a at a particular Warrington Dealership. (it could also have been the first as well).Over the standard model it sported two tone stripes, tasteful convex wheel trims, and a crap britax pop-up glass sunroof.Cool……

  33. Oh Bloody hell – the Italia’90. I still remember it very well.The soccer-ball wheel covers especially. And unfortunately what has been seen cannot be unseen…argh!Talking about base trim levels, this reminds me about my friend’s Fiat Uno 45 3dr he used to drive when we took our driver’s licence (A.D. 1997).That was a blue ’82 lovely Base model – 4-speed gearbox, no rear wiper, passing lights on dipped beams and – that’s the actual best – the windscreen washer was activated by a rubber button beside the steering wheel – no electric pump! At least it had an electrically heated rear window (at that time you had to specify it).My dad’s ’84 Uno 45 was (slightly) better specced already – rear wiper, electric windscreen washer and passing lights on hi-beams.Oh the memories…At least we were spared the indegnity of dealer specials – even though ‘official’ special editions were the norm here too.

  34. A freind of mine had an Uno that featured an “econometer”.  This is a gauge that reads in the red all the time except when the engine was idling.  He rolled it – quite a tough car the Uno it would seem!

  35. A three-door Marina would have been a great idea.The best feature of the Allegro Equipe was surely the porous wheels (maybe from the same guys who supplied them for the SD1) What could be better than waking up to tricolour vynil stripes? Why, tricolour stripes and four flat tyres, of course.

  36. A three-door Marina would have been a great idea.”Yes, two less doors to go rotten.“Polo harlequin?  Anyone remember that monster?! For many years there was one in my hometown, last seen about 5 years back and rather rusty.  Was it a special or limited edition”

    Yes it was a factory limited edition. If i remember correctly they built something like 250 and then swapped the body panels about so that no two were the same. Has to have been one of the worst LE’s ever. It just looked like someone had crashed their car then been to a scrap yard and bought various mis-matched second hand panels to repair it. Still i’ve no doubt VW sold all of them and no doubt for a weighty mark up over a monotone car.

  37. @ Angus Huntley  

    The XR3 lookalike Kingfisher Escort you had (which sounds like quite a good special edition, certainly better than most) survived for quite a long time, 2002 to be exact (see below), no doubt due to it looking sporty and thus still being quite desirable.  If you (or anyone!) wants to find out whether you old car still exists or when it went to the great scrapyard in the sky, then go to this link and click on the “Vehicle Enquiry” tab on the left hand side.  You’ll need the registration number and the manufacturer.

    Vehicle enquiry
    The enquiry is complete.

    The vehicle details for G772 SFT are:
    Date of Liability01 08 2002
    Date of First Registration
    01 08 1989
    Year of Manufacture
    Cylinder Capacity (cc)
    CO2 Emissions
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  38. That comment was definitely laid out better when I posted it.  What’s happened to the paragraphs?!  Keith, the website’s going all Seventies British Leyland on us!

  39. DennisI remember seeing that Polo Harlequin monstrosity at a VW dealer and asking the salesman what on earth VW were thinking of?  

    He laughed and said he could sell every one they could get tier hands on.  He also told me that the colour selection was random (no doubt so they could get enough panels in different colours), so you couldn’t choose the basic colour (i.e. the roof and centre section of the car before the doors were fitted) so some looked better than others.  

    None of them looked good though, as every colour was horrid.  Knowing VW fans, they’re probably sort after now, no doubt just before the springs are cut in half to “slam it to the deck” or whatever the yoof of today say! For those who don’t know what on earth we’re on about, or who simply want to spit their coffee out in amazement, here’s one I found on the internet earlier:


    What’s funny is that while searching for this image, I came across a load of people who have painted old Polos, modern Golfs, Passats etc in the Harlequin colours!  VW fans are a strange breed indeed.

    • The Polo Harlekin was not planned to be built – VW had an ad campaign running to advertise the versatility of their ability to spec personal cars from the option lists… In the follow up they’ve been asked so often, if they would sell one, that they actually started a limited edition.

      They must have sold well over 1000 of them – a surprisingly good result! And also an interesting case about the relation between company, advertising and potential buyers…

  40. As has been mentioned already, Ford were certainly the past masters at the ‘specials’ game making poverty spec cars seem desirable….and “shiftable” from stockSo, not only could you dress up a Popular to a Popular Plus (where you gained…er…, four extra letters I think..P L U S….) with a naff bit of side-stiping, but you could have a field day with the names. 

    My cousin once had a Fiesta Mk2 called a (I think) “Hawaii” which was basically a Pop Plus. Then he had another Fiesta which was called “Storm” or something like that, probably because it was decked out in a not too shabby metallic grey colour. that had some parts bin stuff nabbed from Ghia spec cars and was rather a tasty car….for a Fiesta. A couple of mates had Fiesta “Sundowners” (WTF?!!) that some dealer was happy to shift. Various relatives had Escort Bonus 90’s, 

    Quartz (?) and so on.I once had the use of a Panda “Dance” for a couple of weeks as a company runaround….hulking great 900cc engine under the bonnet!I miss the old ‘silly specials’ as a car dealer neighbour used to call them.Funny to think that now even in so called poverty spec cars such as the base model Focus you get the kind of trimmings that a Granada Ghia X would be seriously jealous of. How times change……

  41. The only Triumph special edition I can recall is the Dolomite 1500 SE. Essentially a basic 1500 TC but painted black with a silver coach stripe, Spitfire wheels with Silver centre caps, a different veneer on the dashboard and special grey coloured seats and carpets.

    They are quite sought after now amongst Dolly enthusiasts and probably one of the better special editions as the looks were a definite improvement over the standard TC.

    I seem to remember Dad having a 45 Impression S as one of his works cars and there might have been an Olympic special edition in there as well somewhere.

  42. I remember reading an article by the late Russell Bulgin in Car magazine about the myriad range of trim packs that the likes of Ford et al had. He compared the Escort Popular and the Popular Plus. The only difference between the two was that the Popular Plus had plastic wheeltrims instead of bare steel wheels, a bodyside moulding (no silver sticker on it though – you needed an L for that), colour toned (not colour coded) bumpers rather than grey and the radio aerial in the back window rather than on the wing. For these extras, you had to pay an additional £570 on top of the price of the £5600 Escort Popular!

  43. I remember in the early 90s just after the disaster that was the Mk V Escort came along, about 3 months after the launch a dealer had already resorted to applying a spoiler, wheelcovers and a “special” badge to shift them.

  44. Sometimes specials are not what they seem – I had 1983 Fiesta Quartz, that basically was a Pop Plus with stripes and an LED econogauge. However the humdrum mark1 Fiesta’s came with 12″ wheels, this had 13″ from the factory and a different style of rear foglamp mount – exactly the same as the mark2 floorpanned models… because that’s what this had, as did every other quartz!

  45. Just remember: there are still motor factors out thre that will sell you the whell trims, badges, seat covers, bangin’s stereos and stripes to give you that genuine Ltd Edition feel.

    My favourite is where people put strips on and they’re not straight

  46. Mini Designer, there was a nice Corgi model of this at the time.

    Remember those red bumper inserts, I think Rover had a few for the R8.
    Halfords used to sell it by the metre, along with the chrome one. Used to see people putting the chrome strip everywhere so their car ended up looking like something out of Tron!

    Escort Popular, my mother had one to learn in, the mk4 with the 1.3 engine, 4 speed box. Appreciated it actually for base honesty of it, tidy wee motor.

    My first car was a ’94 mk1 Clio ‘Campus’. This name is usually used for runout models of the 5 and the previous Clio.
    Was a 1.2 4 speed with a popup sunroof.
    First thing I did was remove the stripes and the ‘Campus’ sticker.

    2 cars later, a ’96 Citroen ZX ‘Elation’. Body coloured bumpers, electric sunroof, central locking, airbag. Still had manual windows though!

  47. One of the first ‘Limited Edition’ specials in the BMC/BL umbrella that I can think of was the 1967 MGB/GT Anniversary Limited Edition marketed in the USA in a desperate effort to shidt slow-selling stock.

  48. Re: the Talbot Minx, Rapier etc. These were special run out versions of the Solara and used the old Rootes names of Minx, Rapier also Sceptre, Vogue and so on.

    Great to hear everyone’s memories of these “special & limited editions”

  49. Some other shock horror real specials I have just remembered:

    Fiat 126 Brown & Personal 4
    Fiat 127 Palio
    Vauxhall Nova Swing
    Citroen 2CV6 Bamboo
    Austin Montego 1.6 Countryman (oh yes there was)

  50. @ Mike Humble

    I’m just guessing here (as I’d never even heard of it until you mentioned it) but did the Citroen have bamboo-effect stickers on the sides? I so hope that it did…

  51. Best AR special/limited edition by far? Mini British Open Classic, ’92/3 I think. 1275 engine, BRG metallic paint, Minilite-style alloy wheels, beige leather with green piping and a full length electric folding roof! Brilliant little car.

  52. there’s a Panda Italia 90 alive and well near me, 750cc I believe. And the Fiat 126 Brown is legend. Wasn’t ‘Personal 4’ a badge put on at the factory?

    Renault ‘Monaco’ cars were lovely though

  53. Will – the Clio Campus wasn’t a special edition. Campus was just the base model, like Popular or City on Ford/AR. Called Campus because it was cheap and aimed at students. It wasn’t really a ‘run out’ model either, as Renault have for a long time continued to build the last generation model as a bargain basement ‘campus’ model along side the newer car. So when the Clio came out you could still buy R5’s for a number of years and, then still MK1 Clios when the MK2 came out and so on. They still do it now i think. Campus was just the bottom of the range model, though some salesmen might tell you it was ‘special’.

    Well that Panda with wickerwork on the side is nothing new, Peter Sellers and co were having it done to their minis in the 60s. Always thought it made them look like a basket case though…….

  54. My 1st car an ALLEGRO 1.5 special LE , mine was tara green metallic (also available in blue),sunroof,five spped box,tinted windows,fogs,rev counter,etc , don’t know how many were made in green or blue but only seenone since i had to scrap mine.Fiesta pop or metro city must be the worst spec cars, but how about the Rover metro 1.1c , didnt even have a passenger mirror or rear wiper and that was 1990

  55. “Fiesta pop or metro city must be the worst spec cars, but how about the Rover metro 1.1c , didnt even have a passenger mirror or rear wiper and that was 1990”

    But they weren’t special or limited editions, Popular and City were simply the names given to the bottom of the range models. You have to call them something. Shite or Pauper wouldn’t have sold very well, so they called them City and Popular.

    I think you’re confusing the term special edition with the Trim Level. Mainstream Ford’s for example used to be Popular, L, LX, GLX, Ghia. Every so often you’d get Popular Plus or Ghia X, which were just promotions where you could buy the ‘plus pack’ or ‘X pack’ to go with the standard car. All manufacturers have a variation on that theme.

    The Metro 1.1c was again not a special edition, simply the bargain basement model. They were simply built to compete on price with the likes of Skoda who were at the time joked about as budget cars. Many people would rather drive a Rover than a Skoda no matter how poorly spec’ed it was.

  56. Back in 1980 my Dad bought a 1978 Midnight Blue Escort Mk 2 1.3 Popular Plus, reg NSX 112T to replace his trusty but rusty Cortine 2000E and spent the next four years of ownership adding things he took for granted (a clock, radio cassette, and others that escape me now with the mists of time). Twice he drove it from Northampton to the south of france and back without a hiccup. But my goodness it was a basic car The only luxury Item I recall was the nylon not vinyl seats. A real come down from the 2000E!

    • Was the MK2 Escort Popular the 1.1 and the Popular Plus a 1.3? So Popular had the 12″ wheels and front drums I guess. We had a teacher whos husband left her off each morning in a red Popular Plus, was a nice looking Escort as I recall.

  57. @steve, Thanks, you’ve made my day with the site you provided the link for! I was (slightly) late for work this morning as I investigated which of my parents cars were still alive. The answer, none, but all were long lived especially the Siera 1.8 LX (E800BVK) which they owned briefly. In mercury Grey, the machine oozed class (or at least I thought it did when I was but 14) and amazingly was only scrapped in 2008 ,possibly a victim of the scrappage scheme?
    Re special Edition Citroen’s, the 2CV Charlston was my favourite, the maroon and black colour scheme looked classy, like a throwback to the 1930’s, but the yellow and black looked amazing. a school teacher had one of these on a Y plate, and I thought it looked so good, I bet these will be few and far between now.
    Back on topic (hopefully) another annoying feature of the “Kingfisher” I mentioned earlier was the fact that the previously mentioned spoiler rattled badly as it had not been fitted well, and try as we might, the fault could not be resolved. when travelling at 50 plus horrible squeaking and rattelling was your sound track, just great when you were traveling in the back from Preston Lancashire back to Newcastle complete with end of term hang-over!

  58. I recall a couple of Escort special editions, one called ‘Sandpiper’ which was beige with a dark brown stripe down the side, and another called ‘Calypso’ which was purple with carribean graphics on the back and side.

    I also recall that at one point Ford regarded black tinted rear lights as an advertising point..

  59. @Angus, the Fiesta Kingfishers ended up in Northern Ireland as well. I also had a MK3 Ford Fiesta Quartz and then a MK3 Ford Fiesta Azure, which were DL models with better wheel trims and a sunroof if I recall.

    My Uncle had a 1982 Vauxhall Astra EXP with two tone paint when I was a kid, thought it was the coolest car ever –

    Speaking of VW’s, anyone remember this? Who would have thought such a cool band in the 60’s and 70’s would have given their name to an underpowered Golf. –

  60. Best special edition – has to be the Marina Jubilee in Citron Yellow, TC wheels, spots, vinyl roof….also the last of the MGB LE’s, I loved that stripe which morphed into the union flag, coupled with US spec lights – lurvley

    I seem to recall seeing a few HHR 400’s with ‘Ranger’ pinstripes in the High Wycombe circa 1997….

  61. @ Jonathan McCormick

    There was also the rather less cool VW Polo Genesis as well! Don’t suppose there’ll be a Golf Westlife in a few years, but maybe you never know…

  62. My last Vauxhall was also a special edition Artic series 2? vectra (B). It had no stickers on the doors or tail more like a basic LS model with front fog lamps,alloys,and of course air conditioning. 1997-98 was a time AC was nealy giving away on Ford/vauxhall cars as sunroofs seemed old hat?.
    There was also Corsa/astra mk3 and frontera Artic 1 and 2 models with the same metallic blue and silver colours only and I named my vectra The Artic Fox keeping the AC on cold even during winter time.

    Most of these special edition cars in the 1990’S realy were girly aimed. Peugeot with the 106 was a good example of this editions like Kid, Key largo/Key west were 17 year old girls first motors and thier cassette players would chew your albums and have 4 gears!.
    I spotted on the road a 106 green key largo with green front seat belts with local L registration plates and thought my god thats still running. Most special edition cars bite the bullet first ending in scrapyards or choped and changed by boy racers.

  63. @Jonathan Carling – “Don’t suppose there’ll be a Golf Westlife” – thankfully they split up! (there is a god) – but there may yet be a Golf Ga Ga………

  64. I remember the Ford Fiesta/Escort’Bonus II’ vans well. I was working at a Ford van dealer at the time in the parts dept, and the packs would arrive, comprising of the white wheeltrims, radio cassette, and stripes/Bonus II stickers. These were fitted to the boggo Popular versions that were in stock

  65. @82:
    Never knew about any Panda-Panda except for today’s Panda (2003) – this name identifies modern CNG-powered Panda versions. Don’t know if it made it through the Channel – pretty sure it didn’t even cross the Alps.

    @62 Keith:
    Panda Shopping FM – never knew about it and that makes me happy – cause that must be the silliest colour pattern ever on a car!
    Even the Polo Harlequin looks better than that.
    Though…that hatch-mounted radio antenna is ‘different’.
    What about giving it a spray with olive green mimetic paint?? Talk about military vehicle lookalike LOL!

    But – this has to be the worst Special Edition of all time.
    So bad it’s good.
    Here goes:
    The Ritmo (er, Strada) Star Trek.
    Here’s the summary for anyone not confortable with French:
    Created by Fiat of Switzerland – metallic blue, with “Star Trek” stickers and a decorative stripe outside, but inside it had a Blaupunkt radio set (…with a microphone? For what?) and… even a JVC B/W portable TV set with DC 12v adapter jack!
    I’m speechless.

  66. “My last Vauxhall was also a special edition Artic series 2? vectra (B)”

    Was that the one that came with a 40ft trailer on the back?

  67. My Mini Racing Green was a special edition – 2 parts Holts Plastic Padding, 1 part rattle can, 15+ parts rust……now that’s special (or is it gifted?)

  68. The early Escort mk IV surely gave us some of the worst limited editions. Mini, on the other hand, always seemed to suit the limited edition treatment

  69. @Dennis Yes it did haha.I remember the Vauxhall salesman jon said it was a series 2 artic editition of the model when i bought it back in 2002 even i didnt know that just the 1997/98 TV adverts the of Vauxhall Artic car range in mind.
    I also came close to looking at a Y-reg bottle green vectra 1.8 SRI 120 saloon £10995 but was sold that day but got that vectra for £5000 down from £6199 also £2500 for the corsa trade in and paid the rest cash. It needed four new tyres and a big wash inside and out.
    Also there was the last five sporty SRI/GSI Vectra B;s new on 02 plates all sold in the showroom and the new model Vectra C in the middle was too big and bland. It was a end of a era of sporty touring car style vauxhalls only snaped up by people in the know back then.

  70. @Angus Huntley

    I always thought that Mercury Grey was a fantastic Ford colour, still looks a good colour today.

  71. @will101 – I think you mean to say Arctic, they were ‘Arctic’ because they came with Air-con.

    an ‘Artic’ is short for Articulated (Lorry). 😉

  72. I see now but it was a long time ago, how embarrassing that Vauxhall faults and all I owned for seven years and it did its job well if it had stickers on the sides I would remember to spell its spec but Ive moved to Ford Monedo MK3 ownership a good motor but its dull compared the the older cars back then.

  73. There are so many when you think back, Nova Swing, Astra CLUB (the one with white plastic bumpers), Metro & Maestro Surf, Rover 214 Sprint, Maestro Special. Metro Rio/Tahiti, the list goes on.
    I still think it’s a wonderful way to shift low spec motors, simply change a tiny bit of em and bang em out as a Limited or Special edition. It’s GENIUS

  74. Reminiscing further, I recall the BX Meteor my dad had.
    Seemed to be a runout model before the Xantia.

    Blaupunkt radio with 4 speakers, front bucket seats, front electric windows, power steering, rear windowblinds, rear spoiler, smoked rear lights.

    The Polo Harlequin, someone up the estate had one. I thought it looked like a scrapyard special where someone had fixed up a writeoff and hadn’t resprayed it.

    A friend had a Cinquecento which was ‘Soleil’ edition because it had a canvas roof (which was broken and didn’t move)
    Fiat also had a Scicento ‘Schumacher’. Which if I recall was yellow.

    Was the Cortina crusader anything to do with the Daily Express paper? I think I read somewhere that they were initially prizes?

  75. Oh lets not forget the Cavalier and Astra “Diamond”, the peugeot ‘Style’ with a big Analogue clock in lieu of a Rev counter. Saxo East/West Coast (I forget which had the body-kit to look like the VTR/S)

    • Yes, the P309 Style a lot of late 309’s were the ‘Style’ models and were a cheaper way of getting on the road with the XUD9 engine than the GLD. Cheap seats but was comfortable enough however I do remember the glass was un-tinted in them so bright sunlight was a bit nasty. There was the ‘Trio’ as well with a horrible triple stripe around them. Looing back the 309 GLD was a pretty good car, quite good seats for an ‘L’. As for the big clock in place of a rev-counter, that didn’t look so bad, what was really rotten was that on the earlier models the base had a big Peugeot lion rampant in the recess where the rev counter was. That looked annoying. Well could have been worse I suppose, what if it was a big Peugeot-Talbot decal as seen on the windows! Urrrhh. I kinda wish I stored a couple of 309 GLD or GRD’s. Sure they looked a wee bit out of proportion but the were good to drive, interior and boot space was good also and the XUD9 even without the turbo was quick enough. The MK1 309 dashboard! Oh so cheap and bad, so flimsy its a legend. 1980’s Peugeots; really good diesel engines, really bad dashboards. Special edition MK1 309, ‘Blu-Tack’ or, ‘2″ masking tape’ (holding the glove box lid closed.) However to compete in the market, spend money on engines or dashboards? They got it right.

  76. Saxos, think WestCoast was a VTR bodykit but a smaller engine for insurance. Furio was similar.
    ‘Open Scandal’ was a full-length canvas roof similar to the Cinquecento Soleil.

    106 seemed to have loads of special editions. I recall adverts for 106s in ‘Key Largo’ / ‘Key West’.
    ‘Zest’, ‘Graduate’, ‘Look’, ‘Escapade’, ‘Mardi Gras’ etc.

    One of the guys in work has a 106 ‘Independence’ as his commuting banger. Seems to be a special edition for 1st time drivers (though he is middle aged!)

    Other half’s sister has a Clio MTV. Which is a mk2 Clio with MTV stickers on it.

    My old 406 was a Rapier edition, had a fair few goodies (leccy windows, CD player, aircon, trip computer etc.)

  77. @Will M

    “Was the Cortina crusader anything to do with the Daily Express paper? I think I read somewhere that they were initially prizes?”

    I’ve always wondered about whether there was a connection with the Daily Express and the Cortina Crusader. I remember a friend’s dad having one (a 1.6 estate) and it had the DE knight with shield logo as a decal on the back. I’ve also noticed that some of the mint ones on eBay (of which there always seems to be quite a few) have the logo on.

    I’ve just Googled it and yes, it seems that there was some sort of promotion link. How strange!

  78. thanks for reminding me about the Marina 1.3LE – when was that – 1979? I’d forgotten about that, now I remember thinking about buying one on the employee plan. It seemed good value and it looked great in that Oyster metallic, but it was still a lot of money for me at the time. I made do with my Austin 1300 for a bit longer and got a used Princess 1700HL a year later!

  79. “the Marina 1.3LE”

    I suppose it was quite easy to make a special edition or Limited Marina. They just put one together properly. It would automatically confer rarity on it, in that it would be reliable and not fall apart. 🙂

  80. I worked at Peugeot-Talbot Ryton a few years back and we were building some LE 306’s – One was called Bali and I think the other was Tahiti with appropriate stickers. Anyway, during some minor industrial dispute a couple of operators changed the letters around and lo and behold: the Peugeot 306 Balti!

  81. This is one of the best debates / discussions ever – thanks guys you are really taking me on a trip down memory lane! DOes any one remember the early Metro Automatics – they were a model all to themselves rather than being a gearbox you could chose with any spec. Does anyone know why that was? I’d have thought the luxo spec HLS should have had it offered as an option (if it did apologies – I dont ever recall seeing one). Also @ David B (comment 24) you are right – the Equipe was the best! I saw one at a show this year – great suff!

  82. @MG Midget

    Re: Metro Automatic – the Peugeot 205 Automatic was also a model in its own right (a 1.6 carb-fed engine which was only available with the automatic gearbox). I might be wrong, but I’ve a feeling that the Fiat Uno was a separate automatic model too. I suppose in those days automatics weren’t very popular, perhaps it was logistically easier just to make one model? Having said that, you could buy an automatic (CVT) gearbox on several Fiesta trim levels.

  83. @ Steve Bailey
    You are right Steve – and the CVT came in mid – late 80’s. Were they steel bands (a bit like the Daf Variomatics)? You may have a point about the production economics dictating the availability of models. Talking of Fiestas, does anyone remember the Olympus2 special edition? It was a run out of the Mk2 in the late 80’s. I think this was after some sports brand or sports shop. Was there ever and Olympus1?

  84. @MG Midget

    A friend of mine had an Fiesta Olympus Sport Special Edition, it had the same logo as the sports shop with the same name – presumably some sort of promotional tie-in, rather like the run-out almost-Ghia Cortina Crusader which was a promotional tie-in with the Daily Express (they had the Daily Express logo on the rear, a knight with a shield). The Fiesta Olympus Sport was a 1.4S, the sports model below the XR2, but fitted with a Ford Accessories RS bodykit, in grey to match the lower half of the car, with a rear spoiler, also in grey (the 1.4S didn’t have a rear spoiler as standard, but instead had a rear window surround in black vinyl, similar to the pre-facelift XR3/XR3is). It had white sporty wheeltrims that looked like alloys (but weren’t, although they were held on by the wheel bolts). I had a Fiesta 1.4S and I loved it, although the Popular Plus interior trim was horrid (it had the higher level Ghia dash though with rev counter – my first ever rev counter!) It treally shifted (75bhp) and handled superbly and I preferred the styling to the XR2. It was a lot cheaper to insure, too.

    There is an image of an Olymous Sport here:

  85. @Adrian

    I remember the 106 Independence in the late 90s, I went to look at them and was utterly surprised to see that the seats were trimmed in the square dot trim that the last 205 GTis had!

  86. @MG Midget

    I recall the Metro Automatic.

    I was really young and they were fairly new, someone had one outside the shop I was at with my dad.
    I asked him why it was badged ‘Automatic’, with childhood visions of a knight-rider style KITT-Metro!
    His response that it changed gears itself was a bit over my head at the time (I think I preferred the image of a self-driving car!)

    Not something to shout about nowadays. Only time someone behind me knows the Accord coupe is an auto is when I switch from D4->P when stopped (or vice versa) and the reversing lights briefly show!

  87. @Will M

    I’d forgotten about the “Automatic” badges on things – I remember my Uncle having a Cortina 2.3 Ghia Automatic (with “Automatic” badge) and being confused about self-changing gears!

    I had an Accord 2.0 VTEC Automatic (98-02 version) with the Tiptronic system. I bought it thinking that if I didn’t get used to the auto transmission, I could manually overide it. The autobox was so good I never needed to. It had no sport or economy modes, nor did it need them. It just changed gear as if it was telepathic. Fantastic car. I’ve been buying Hondas ever since.

  88. Brilliant read this, thanks everyone!

    I’ve been “remembering” and come up with another, Mk3 Cavalier Cesaro. Basically an LS spec Cav with nice 5 spoke alloys (that featured on later SRi’s as standard) and SRi style seats. It was mainly a V6 model as I recall but I’m sure you could get a rep-special 1.8 version too. I think there was an Astra Cesaro too, with different style wheels.

    I’ve realised that I learned to drive in a special edition car – a then new M plate Pug 205 Mardi Gras turbo diesel. Metallic paint and electric front windows were, I think, its special bits.

  89. Oh and now I’ve remembered something… I’ve seen a mint Escort Eclipse this very afternoon. Still kinda looks good after all these years!

  90. @ BobM

    I remember that V6 Cavalier special edition, it meant that the reps could get a V6 for the price of a 1.8. Clever marketing ploy, that.

  91. The first Renaoult 5 was available as a one-model R5 Automatic as well; nice spec, even a vinyl roof. Seem to think that applied to the R12 automatic too, in a model known as R12 TR.

  92. One of my favourite special editions was the Peugeot 205 Gentry – basically a GTI (with 405 alloys) fitted with a detuned 1.9 engine combined with an automatic gearbox and full leather. One on eBay at the moment – I reckon it looks better than the GTI does. There was also an STDT version – exactly the same but with the fantastic turbo diesel engine.

  93. Regarding cars wearing the ‘Automatic’ badges, this has been the same with each new technology that came out. For a good few years Vauxhalls wore ABS badges, and Rover’s wore ‘Catalyst’ badges. Once it becomes the norm they disapear.

  94. I hope everyone hasn’t forgotten the plethora of special edition blob shaped Nissan Micra’s that graced our roads back in the 90’s. Micra Dot, Wave, Inspiration, Ally, Equation, Vibe. There were so many I can’t remember even half of them. I was a salesman at a Nissan dealership in the late 90’s and these special editions with lurid interior trims and naff exterior graphics actually outsold standard models. So much so we were left with a sizeable batch of dog cock red base 1.3 L’s so guess what we did with them? Yep, we converted them to the limited edition Micra Max which basically meant alloy wheels, colour coded rear spoiler, cheapo “Max” graphics and plastic wheelarch spats. We sold all of them! Another unforgetable “special edition” was a dodgy loss leader Micra which we had advertised in the local paper for £4995 which was an unbelievable price even back then. Our old school dealer principle literally de-contented a Micra taking out the rear parcel shelf, head restraints and radio and taking off its wheeltrims and rear wash wipe. It was proudly parked in the middle of the showroom displaying its “unbelievable” £4995 price. We were naturally told we would be sacked if we sold it and had to upgrade customers to a higher spec car instead! Ah the good old honest days of car selling! LOL

  95. @Dennis

    A couple of years back I was at the scrap yard after a couple of bits for my old clunker. I noticed the car I was pilfering had an “ABS” badge on the boot, and mine didn’t so off it came, on it went! “16v” and “dohc” badging has largely disappeared now too.

  96. I remember almost every Mini sold in the late 1980’s seemed to be a limited edition, one had some odd bull bars for some reason.

    As mentioned above many run-out specials have been created, the entire 2CV range seemed to be special editions in the late 1980s. I see a black & moroon Charlston around Stockport about once a week.

    Volvo had a Lamda SE in the 1990’s to premote the oxygen sensing system.

    ARG used Mayfair as an SE name, & a few years later Proton used the same name & even the stickers were in the same font.

  97. A former boss bought a MkIV Golf TDi 150pd, this was badged as a GTi, the only clue to it being a diesel was the sound of it, it was a quick car.

    Didn’t Volvo for a time cleverly use the lambda symbol to indicate them being cat equipped?

    Special badging/edition wise does anyone know what the old Ford “Custom” Transits were? I don’t think I’ve seen a Custom badged Tranny since the demise of the smiley grill models of the 90s. To me they looked just like any other Transit.

  98. @Craig Tetlow

    The Micra Max story reminds me of the time I needed a set of wheeltrims for my L reg Renault 19 Biarritz 1.9D – a strange special edition, with horrid Biarritz stickers all over the place that some previous numpty had lacquered over when spraying the rear quarter and an unusual specification level – remote central locking, adjustable lumbar support, oil pressure gauge, rev counter and metallic paint were all standard. However, it didn’t have an airbag, a sunroof, rear stereo speakers or electric windows.

    Anyway, I went to said Renault dealer, who quoted me about £100 for a set of Renault 19 wheeltrims. He then said “would Clio trims be okay?” I replied that they probably would. He took me to a storeroom that was literally full to bursting with 13″ Renault wheeltrims, all new, all in sealed bags. They were from the boggo Clio, onto which this dealer bunged cheap 13″ alloys(even using the same skinny tyres as the original steel wheels which were then weighed in for scrap) and sold as a special edition. I got four brand new trims for sixteen quid!

  99. Transit Custom was a trim level. Came with nicer material on the seats and the ‘captains’ chair for the driver with two arm rests. They came with the decent Ford Radio Casette too i think.

  100. @ Steve Bailey
    Wow mega thanks for the pictures of the Fiesta Olympus. Is beginning to think my mind was playing tricks but no the grey cells are all there as that is exactly what I remembered. When I was a student in 1995 I swapped a Mk3 1.3L Escort (C reg) for one of the last (X reg) TR7’s. That was my first car with a rev counter, and my 1st BL car. I loved it but it eventually turned into ferrous oxide and I could not afford to save it 🙁 Like the RR Phantom special edition too!
    @ Dennis & Will M
    I remember autobox Fords had the “Automatic” badge centrally mounted below the rear numberplate (Cortina’s Escorts & Granadas)

  101. @Steve Bailey

    Xantias used to have “Air Conditioned Luxury” stickers on the back window!

    C15 vans used to be special editions: Van Rouge and Van Blanc. No prizes for guessing the colours! 🙂

    There was a supermarket own brand Micra for sale in Japan, that had no badging and basic spec. Almost the polar opposite of the ‘special edition’!

  102. @Steve Bailey
    Or your first volt meter – the TR7 had that as well but they did not have an oil pressure guage. This was offset by the pop up headlamps – and mine worked properly (thank goodness – I could not have fixed them)!!! Moving the subject back to Mazda, am I right in thiking that all the poverty spec models had an ‘executive’ badge on the back – it might be my imagination of course…

  103. I don’t know if it counts as a special edition, but in the early 90s some Micras were rebodied to look like a 1950s car and named the Figaro. You still see a few about now, they have a cult following.

  104. “Dennis
    I can even remember the bloody part number for them Ford wireless sets in the Transit Custom.
    (I need to get out more)”

    That’s nothing, my first job was on a checkout at Tesco, i can still remember the code for Bananas – 6310.

  105. Oi! An original FIAT Panda Italia ’90 special is now an appreciating asset.

    Would be worth even more if Italy had contested and won the final (still think Italy and England were robbed that year, leading to probably the most unexciting and anti-climactic final between West Germany and Argentina……)

  106. Even Lada got involved with numerous specials, including ‘Select’ models, which were the boggo spec models with stickers on the doors, and cheapo wheeltrims shoved on. The Samara Flyte was a bodykitted SLX, with alloys and metallic paint…Dear oh dear.

  107. My mum got a new special edition Vauxhall every three years from 1988 after three years with a brand new Metro City (C935EFR) that began to rust before being three years old.

    1988: A navy blue Nova Gem. Basic model with wheel trims, an AM radio and velour trim identical to that my data had in his Mk II Cavalier GLi
    1991: A white Nova Spin. Very basic as you had visible paint on the interior doors. No real step up from Gem as still had AM eadio. The wheel trims were white though with red Vauxhall badges which I thought were cool at the time!
    1994: Corsa Swing. Dad paid extra for the 4 speed ‘box!
    1997: Another Corsa: Can’t rmember the name but it was metallic green with a badge on the side with hot air balloons on it I think.

    Happy Days!

  108. How about the Citroen 2CV “007” special edition, a cash-0in for the cars appearance in For Your Eyes Only. I think they came just in yellow but with bullet hole stickers applied. Lovely.

    Perhaps BL should’ve cashed in after the Sherpa’s brilliant appearance in The Spy Who Loved Me?!

  109. But be fair the 2CV was voted number one Bond Car of all time. So not a bad special edition. But lets be honest what options could they have offered on a 2CV to make it special? The things were so basic and although i’ve always fancied one, archaic.

    BL did offer Bond inspired Sherpa’s, once they were a few years old the gutter went rusty and you could yank the roof off.

  110. The Lada special editions (Riva Select that Marty B mentions above) were normally a ploy to inflate the price of the car so that a generous part exchange allowance could be given against the customer’s rotting MK3 Escort or tatty Metro.

    A garage near me sold ‘Kingfisher’ versions of the Ladas, they were base models with a pop up sunroof (or ‘toilet seat’ as they were known at the time in the trade – I wince everytime I see one now!) wheeltrims, coachlines, a cheap radio cassette player and an extra 2 years (Motorplan) warranty tacked on (which had draconian terms and conditions attached to it regarding servicing and rustproofing). About £500 total cost to the dealer for the parts and warranty, these ‘special editions’ were retailed at £2000 more than the standard car, with £1000 minimum part exchange allowance. They used to fly out of the door, as a lot of customers were obsessed with PX values in those days! They were pretty profitable for the dealer too!

    Proton also did a few, one I remember is the ‘Principal’; a white 1.5SE saloon with a bootlid spoiler with built in high level brake light and a few extra fancy graphics.

  111. @ 107 Steve Bailey

    Yes – the automatic Fiat Uno was called the Uno Selecta, a version in its own right, even though it was based on the intermediate “S” trim level, both on Mk1 and Mk2 Uno’s.
    It had the same CVT-type autobox made by VanDoorne which could be also found on CTX Ford Fiestas of that time.

    And – @108 – yes it was a steel-band CVT affair just like Daf’s.

    The CVT transmission stuck around for quite a while but didn’t sell much – apparently it was only seen as a thing for the handicapped and for people uncapable to drive a ‘proper’ car. Even though I recently recall Audi fitting a CVT system (Multitronic) to the A6.
    Now robotized, electro-actuated ‘traditional’ boxes seem to be the way to go…

  112. “The Lada special editions (Riva Select that Marty B mentions above) were normally a ploy to inflate the price of the car so that a generous part exchange allowance could be given against the customer’s rotting MK3 Escort or tatty Metro.”

    Indeed, in fact they weren’t even called Lada’s back in Russia, but just Autovaz, usually the Select was a couple of otherwise optional extra’s thrown in for a discounted price. All the options and decals were applied when they landed in the UK.
    My parents had a 1987 Riva estate, built like a T34 Tank on the outside, interior was nasty, though still quite tough. Siberian grade heater meant you’d never be cold. The extruded alloy bumpers Even made Volvo’s seem flimsy. Very comprehensive tool kit as standard, even had a tyre pump and you’d never break the spanners, i still have a couple!

    I think really you can split special editions into two categories. Those that are purely promotional LE’s. So you might get a Forhall Vectdeo ‘Chill’ with Free aircon as standard in summer, or a free MP3 stereo for example. Much akin to a special offer in Tesco.
    Then there are what you might call true special editions, that have some degree of uniqueness. Like the Mini 30 for example, which came with Nice paint, Leather Seats, nice alloy wheels and a decent stereo. Or a manufacturer might build something that’s barking mad in performance terms.

    However all LE’s are obvious promotional tools, because after all the purpose of a car manufacturer, like any kind of manufacturer is to build and sell a product for a profit. A concept which seemed to escape BL workers of the 70’s and early 80’s.

  113. Ah yes Dennis… the legendary Lada tool kit, which comprised of…

    8& 10mm open spanner
    10 & 13 open spanner
    17 & 19mm ring spanner
    Flat or Philips combi screwdriver
    Styrup Pump
    Tyre Pressure gague
    10mm Allen Key
    Lead light
    Tyre Lever

    And.. a small pot of paint in the cars body colour

  114. My Granddad bought a brand new Lada Riva 1300 Estate in 1988 with his redundancy money from the NCB (can you get any more Northern than that 😉 ) He was a engineer at the NCB workshops (meaning considerably less redundancy than those down the mine, strangely) and he looked after the Lada meticulously, including wax injecting all the body cavities. 10 years on there was not a spec of rust on it, apart from the front edges of the front wings where the wax couldn’t reach. It was incredibly antiquated inside, as you’d expect, and the steering was ludicrously heavy. It had a certain charm in the estate bodystyle though, especially in the dark blue he chose.

  115. Oh, and just to prove my childhood Northern credentials, my other Grandad had a brown Reliant Robin three wheeler bought new in 1979, which he drove everywhere like an absolute loon on his pre-war motorbike license! He had several crashes in it, but always lived to tell the tale (a tale that was normally someone else’s fault, no matter what the facts might point to). His finest moment was driving straight into the back of our family Escort estate car at a junction. I was in the rear loadspace asleep in a carrycot, and I slept through it apparently.

    When the topic of conversation as kids turned to what our Grandparents’ drove (a couple of them had Granada Ghias and Senators), I used to remain strangely silent…

    People who grew up in Essex and Longbridge don’t know they’re born – I bet their Grandparents had interesting stuff like Capris, Granadas, Rover SD1s etc!

  116. I can remember in the late eighties, early nineties my mate and I thinking up names for naff limited editions. Many, probably a fraction too rude to repeat here!!!

    Escort Spaz anyone??

  117. This was not an uncommon practice in the USA as well. In the mid-1970’s, GM and Ford both put out ‘special’ versions of base models with some special trim, limited option choices or some cheaper parts to meet some price points. Ford did the Pinto in the ‘Pony’ version with the Kent 1.6 engine, very basic interior, maybe an AM radio, and bias-ply instead of radial tires. GM did the same with the Chevrolet line cars too with similar packaging.

  118. “Ah yes Dennis… the legendary Lada tool kit, which comprised of…
    8& 10mm open spanner
    10 & 13 open spanner
    17 & 19mm ring spanner
    Flat or Philips combi screwdriver
    Styrup Pump
    Tyre Pressure gague
    10mm Allen Key
    Lead light
    Tyre Lever
    And.. a small pot of paint in the cars body colour”

    Don’t forget the high lift jack and well made tool roll with leather straps to keep it all in! The reversible screwdriver was rubbish though, the bit was very soft metal and used to get stuck in the handle. I think it had some feeler gauges in it too?

  119. I read somewhere that the Lada tool kit was based on the ones Fiat supplied with the 124.

    The Rover P5B’s had a toolkit that was hidden away in a strange place in the dashboard.

  120. I remember Quicks of Old Trafford did a KEY 103 Special Edition based on the 950 Popular Fiesta, to celebrate the launch of KEY 103 FM, a hangover from Piccadilly radio if i remeber correctly. It was available in any colour Fiesta ‘Pop’ they had banging about in the compound and had – be still my beating heart – a heated rear window! That seemingly was it. I clearly remember the beige version they had in the showroom complete with maroon ‘coach’ stripes! I seem to remember you could also have a Britax pop up sunroof for a little extra, and you could choose if you wanted red, white or black trim on the sunroof panel.
    Gordons Of Bolton also did some special edition Escort’s and Fiesta’s which were maroon over silver, complete with maroon wheel trims!And the Escort Bonus that was a run out Escort mk4 Popular Plus and you got a balance of points that you could choose option packs with, a clever idea at the time.
    I was thinking about the Allegro Equipe only today when i found an ‘Equipe’ decal unused and still bagged up in the garage. My dad was service manager for Bolton Motor Company in BL days and i think half the parts inventory found it’s way to our garage when the ”lovely” Gerald Ronson screwed it up.
    Favourite special editon of all time; Orion 1600E. You’ll never convince me Ford’s are any better now than they ever were, which was fairly awful, but for some reason i love an old Orion.
    The Polo Harlequin’s where originally made for German tv channel RTL, as competition prizes but they really caught Helmut and Helger’s imagination so they were sold in Germany and very popular they were oddly! Also the Golf GTTDI’s aren’t dealer editions. No UK spec MK4 Golf GTI is actually a true GTI. They are all Highline’s without exception.

  121. Steve Bailey – Comment 122

    The 205 Gentry – Weren’t these often in a light(ish) metallic green with pale part leather seats? If it’s the one I’m thinking of I liked these very much too.

  122. “I read somewhere that the Lada tool kit was based on the ones Fiat supplied”

    Possibly, the whole car was based on the Fiat. I understood though that in parts of the USSR it was mandatory to carry such items, even down to being able to repair a puncture in Siberia.

  123. I remember the limited edition 205 STDT, boasting the 1.8 Turbo Diesel engine. That was a nice edition.

    And the 309 Goodwood GTI – they are pretty rare these days.

    How about the 605 Sceptre and Z6?

    My Dad had a Talbot Horizon Special – which was in Black and had the Lotus Sunbeam stripes down the side, and I think a twin-carb 1.5-litre rattler under the bonnet.

    Of course the Orion version of the Escort Eclipse was the Orion Equippe, but in Pacifica Blue, instead of Bahama Blue, but available in Flambeau Red.

    Other editions were the Escort Tennis Cabriolet – all white, but with green writing on the back.

    But the real lazy special editions from Ford were in 1991/1992, when they rebadged most of their range to sell the old models. Fiesta and Escort Popular became Fiesta and Escort Fresco, as did the Sierra Laser, which became Sierra Fresco. The LX then became the Quartz.

    Does anyone remember the Fiesta Calypso, with the electric folding roof? Or the Fiesta Cayman that was basically a Ghia without the badge, in Cayman Blue.

    Another popular Fiesta was the Flight, which was a Fiesta Ghia with XR2i wheels on it.

    There were also Fiesta and Escort Firefly models, which were basically a Ghia but without the badges and finished in red.

    And latterly, there was the Fiesta Silver and Fiesta Black, and Focus Silver, Focus Black, Focus Chic and Focus ELLE which were basically three-door cars with luxury trim – including leather seats.

    I think one of the worst regional special editions was the Fiesta Fanfare, or Fiesta Sunray – dreadful things with aftermarket spoilers.

    Pre-dating the Fiesta Bonus as a horrid entry spec was the Fiesta Holiday – I remember the car on the front of the brochure coming in hearing aid beige.

    Another year’s Fiesta and Escort special editions were the Mistral, Equipe and Sapphire – they weren’t too bad.

    And following on from the Orion 1600E theme, there was also a Sierra Sapphire 2000E – similar kit – leather seats, two-tone exterior paintwork and an elevated price tag.

  124. I forgot about the Escort Dash Cabriolet – miserable car with a 1.4 engine. And the Escort Cosmopolitan – white, with white wheels.

    There were also Escort and Orion DX models – designed to add a bit of pzazz into the diesel range.

    And the Escort 1.6 Sport in three-door hatchback guise.

  125. Some nice editions were the Puma Black and Thunder. Both well spec’d up, and not cheap and nasty like some special editions. The Puma Millennium was awful though – sick yellow like the KA and Focus editions.

  126. Last post tonight, I promise.

    The Keeping Up Appearances Rover 216SX and 213SX were nice packages, as was the 216 Sprint. The 213EX and 216EX from 1989 were even nicer, but it would appear that none have survived.

  127. “Another year’s Fiesta and Escort special editions were the Mistral, Equipe and Sapphire – they weren’t too bad.”

    I remember seeing the Fiesta ones on a TV advert in 1994/5 – one of the special features they were bragging about was a rear wash wipe! One had electric windows though, so that one would have been okay,

  128. “And the Escort 1.6 Sport in three-door hatchback guise”

    That was a cracking package, available in 1989/90 – two tone LX style paint, colour coded mirrors, rev counter, XR3i interior (with the pre-89 Daytona trim), rear XR3i spoiler, sports suspension and wider tyres. Almost as fast as a XR3i to 60, too.

    The Escort DX was basically an Escort Eclipse but with standard paint colours, 13″ wheels and no rear spoiler. Probably the best package a 1.8 D Escort ever came in.

    The Orion Equipe was pretty much an Orion Ghia – it had the Ghia interior with rear headrests and exactly the smae trim, rev counter dash, electric pack etc. The only things missing from the Ghia-type spec on the Equipe were electric mirrors, heated front screen, better stereo and probably some soundproofing. On the outside it looked similar in style to the 1600E, with snowflake alloys and a coachline (although early ones had an Escort Esclipse style stripe with “Orion” on). They also had a colour coded rear spoiler.

    The Orion 1600E for me was the best though, albeit shockingly expensive (£12,500 back in 1989, twice the price of a basic Orion 1.3L and £2k more than an Orion 1.6i). Mechanically it was an Orion 1.6i Ghia. Internally it had grey leather trim, extra courtesy lights, graphic equaliser, wood trim on the doors and dash, sports seats and a two tone leather steering wheel from the Scorpio. Externally it was similar to the Ghia model with silver bumper inserts (rather than the red of the 1.6i Ghia). It also had a hand painted coachline (the cars were hand finished at Aston Martin Tickford) and 14″ snowflake alloy wheels. It was available in Mercury Grey, Raven (a blue-black metallic exclusive to this model) and, strangely, Diamond White.

    I reckon that the limited edition models Ford did towards the end of the Escort’s life in 1989/90 were probably some of the best value and best-equipped special editions of their time – the Escort Bonus 90, for example, was an Escort Popular but with metallic paint and wheel trims as standard, creating a smart looking little car, for 10% less than the Popular model it was based on! The Escort Eclipse and Orion Equipe were both sporty looking, highly equipped cars that were cheap to run and only slightly more expensive than a boggo 1.3L. The Orion 1600E was superbly equipped, although not necessarily good value, although you could argue that it was almost hand built, being finished at Aston Martin Tickford.

  129. David Dawson – November 6, 2011 Comment 126

    “The 205 Gentry – Weren’t these often in a light(ish) metallic green with pale part leather seats? If it’s the one I’m thinking of I liked these very much too.”

    Yep, they were available in gold and green metallic, each having different colour full leather interior of either beige or brown (although I can’t remember for the life of me which car had which). They had wood trim, too. Basically the same as the STDT turbo diesel version.

  130. Found this website on the 205 GTI 1 FM edition – looks like it was a bit more than a stickers and stripes job – it even had a custom top end Clarion sound system and air conditioning! I’ve got to get one:

    There was also a 205 Roland Garros, in dark green with white half leather trim available in both hatchback and cabriolet bodystyles. More info here:

  131. I seem to remember the 2CV Dolly, Bamboo and Beachcomber started it all off.. I do recall the Citroen GSA Pallas SE which was the uniquely British model aimed at clearing the decks for the BX, with Alloys, sunroof and brown velour trim.We were spared the somewhat unfortunately-named French GSA “Cottage” with its tartan upholstery…and the GSA Chic with black window stripes.

    • 2CV Spot, from about 1976, was the first. Orange and white paint, with ‘Spot’ written on the doors.

  132. “Does anyone remember the Fiesta Calypso, with the electric folding roof?”

    Yes, spent ages trying to find one this year as my girlfriend’s Mk 3.5 Quartz (Mk 4 floorpan, Mk 3 top and tail, nice seats) expired and she really, really likes Mk 3 Fiestas. In the end, she got a Mk 5 Finesse.

    Of course there was the Mini Open Classic, the Saxo Open Scandal, a VW Polo with such a feature. A bit of a trend for those roofs, then they went away again. I think Ford did a Ka with one, too.

  133. British Open Classic minis seem to be the most popular version in France. I drove to Bordeaux a few years ago, saw 6 classic minis while i was down there, 4 of the were British opens!

  134. @ Richard Kilpatrick 171 & Ian 162
    I had forgotton all about the Fiesta Calypso. Thank you for bringing it back. I remeber seeing reguarly around 1995 a metallic blue J plate example near to where I lived. The roof was black vinyl which caught my eye. I did not know it was electric. I thought it was just like the webasto roof I had on the TR7 FHC I had at the time

  135. Other Ford-related cars with similar roofs – the Mazda 121 Suntop (Ford Festiva) and the later, but not Fiesta-based, 121 that looks a bit like a Bowler hat.

    The Suntop was the 121’s big splash in the UK in what, ’88? With the seats that fold flat into a bed, and the big retractable roof. Shame the Festiva/121/Pride were such awful cars to drive, really. Never tried the hat-shaped one, and would really quite like one.

  136. “I think Ford did a Ka with one, too.”

    They did in 2001 yes, i remember this, as when i collected my mini that year (which has the said roof), i saw an advertising hoarding and thought “oh they have them too”

    Seem them on Berlingo/Partners too.

    They seem to have fallen out of fashion in favour of the slatted glass/metal ones now though. I had a Meriva a few months back, that just had a full glass roof, didn’t open, seemed a bit pointless really.

    “The Suntop was the 121′s big splash in the UK in what, ’88? With the seats that fold flat into a bed, and the big retractable roof.”
    So they were going for what? the camper van market? 🙂

  137. VW did a few special editions that were forgetable Golf tour, match! Polo Fox
    However they also did the Scirocco and Corrado storms which are quite collectable now

  138. “However they also did the Scirocco and Corrado storms which are quite collectable now”
    They were the mental ones? with the tuned VR6 lumps?

  139. just bought my wife a brand new corsa special addition Excite basically a standard S model with bluetooth and A\C

    Also my 1st car was a metro advantage with the bodykit all my mg metro freinds were jealous of those white wheels and wide arches.

    Happy Days!!!

  140. Dennis: Scirocco Storms are just run-out edition Sciroccos. We didn’t even get 16v ones here. The Corrado was probably the same – can’t remember which engine was in a Corrado Storm, but it’s going to be a VR6 or 2.0 16v.

  141. I seem to remember they did do a Crazy Corrado. I know a friend had one, it was stolen and when it was recovered she was told she had to have a tracker and all sorts put on it before she could have it insured again.

    A quick look on wikipedia shows they did a 158bhp Supercharged 1.8. and later a 192bhp VR6.

    Always thought the Sirocco was a better looking car though, the Corrado looked a bit like a parts bin concoction, of course they both were really, but the Sirocco pulled it off more than the Corrado did.

  142. @Richard Kilpatrick

    You could get the 16v as a left hand drive, “to special order only” model in the Eighties, at considerable extra cost to the standard fuel injected Scirocco. I bet not many people did.

    The Storm was fitted with the VR6 engine, and was available in blue or green metallic, with black or beige trim respectively.

    I wonder if VW will do a Storm version of the current Scirocco in a few year’s time?

  143. MK1 Scirocco storms were 1.6 Injection (500 Made uk market only) 1979-1981
    MK2 Scirocco storms were 1.8 injection but were NOT run out models they were produced in the first 2 years of production as the MK2 was a slow seller compaired to the MK1’s
    15 LHD 16V Scirocco’s were officially sold in the UK
    Corrado Storms were a run out special all Inside leather and all VR6’s

  144. 15 Scirocco 16 valves! Just had a look at (Scirocco GTX 16v) and there are 3 licensed and 1 on SORN, so a pretty good survival rate. Interestingly one of the 16 valves was registered in 2005, suggesting that a dealer kept one and didn’t register it – probably kept as an investment or as a showroom exhibit. Wonder how much that sold for?

  145. I quite liked the run-out Escort Flight and Finesse editions, which were probably the best built in history – built to Jaguar standards at Halewood.

    Of course there were the unimaginatively named Escort and Orion GL Plus models in 1988/1989 IIRC, that got a few extra bits and bobs.

    The Escort Acapulco always made me laugh as it had no redeeming features whatsoever apart from metallic paint. No idea why Ford bothered.

    The Escort TDX was good too, as it was the precursor to the 1.8 TD engine being widely available in the Escort range. IIRC, it came only in Pacifica Blue – a dark metallic blue.

    More mechandising tie-ups Ford style, was for the Explorer North Face. I actually saw one on the road the other day, and it brought back memories.

    Do you remember the Fiesta SX too – either 1.1 or 1.3 engine, which looked sporty, despite its mudane engines. The 1.3 SX later became a regular model and replaced the 1.6 S in the line-up, of sorts.

    The Fiesta Freestyle was also available with the electric fabric roof a la Calypso. The Freestyle was available in silver, black and white and featured extremely lairy blue trim and blue stripes on the bumpers. It also came with the 1.4 engine, strangely, as usually it was 1.1 for Fiesta Special Editions.

    Does anyone remember the Galaxy Ultima and Mondeo Ultima? The latter IIRC was finished in metallic red, while the former usually seen in a metallic beige. Both of them didn’t last long.

    The Ka Finale was a nice package actually, before being replaced by the hideous New Ka.

    And lastly for tonight, does anyone remember the Orion Biscayne – pale metallic blue and white wheel trims. On sale the same time as the Escort Bravo IIRC.

  146. On the Sierra front, the run-out Sierra Azura was a nice package, in saloon, hatch and estate. And I always thought the Sierra GT was a nice package too, with 2.0i engine. The Sierra Chasseur was nice too, with wheels from the XR4x4 and a decent spec.

    Earlier, around 1989, Ford released a special edition Sierra GLS 4×4 2.9i to bring the price of all-wheel-drive down. IIRC, that had white GLS wheel trims.

    Out of all the special editions that I’ve seen though, Honda must take the prize for wrongly describing its car. The Honda HR-V Joy Machine special edition from 2000 was far from it.

  147. Just discovered this thread and now feel old as the 90s were so long ago!

    When younger we had a couple of limited editions – a 90 Metro Knightsbridge which was very nice with different interior (stolen from the drive despite probably being the cheapest car in the street) and metallic and a Micra Celebration with metallic paint and a tacky sticker (indestructible!).

    I have a copy of the book ‘crap cars’ which mentions a couple of foreign ones Renault 21 Manager or Fiat 126 Brown anyone?

    Now it seems to be more on price than special editions!

  148. Having bought a Saab 93 Linear, I thought the spec was named to appeal to architects (nice linear designs) or dentists (keep your teeth capped), however it turned out to be base spec.

    Still well equipped – leccy windows x 4, trip computer, aircon. The horrendous standard sound system was helped by the addition of some 6x9s.

    The base spec came in handy when the blower fan decided it wanted to keep spinning all night, the manual control unit is shared with various Vauxhalls and cost pennies to replace. The high spec auto climate control unit would’ve been a couple of hundred…

    Re-reading this thread brought back memories, strangely, of early 90s Peugeot 106 special editions. For some reason they had a Florida theme with Key West and Key Largo, then the first car with ‘Independence’ edition.

    Ford are looking to bring the special editions back with the plan for the new Mondeo Vignale subbrand. Supposedly buyers will get better treatment at dealers etc….

    • I remember that Peugeot did ‘Inca’ & ‘Aztec’ special additions for the 106 back in the day..

  149. I remember my parents buying a third-hand 1992 MkV Escort 1.4 “Kingfisher” which came with a naff orange stripe, rear wash-wipe and “Digital” radio cassette over the basic car.

    Dad ragged it to Norwich from Cambridge every day for about a year until he got his Mondeo company car, and the Escort passed to my mum as a runabout. She hated the lack of power steering and it was replaced by another “special” in the form of a 2002 K11c Nissan Micra Tempest – which came with grey/blue seats, a blue insert in the gear lever and a “Tempest” badge on the bootlid over the standard car. It wasn’t quick with 998cc but I loved driving it – it handled like a go-kart!

  150. Vauxhall launched a special edition of the Chevette in 1981 called ES( presumably meant Economy Special)for £ 2895 and slightly cheaper than the E. However, the only thing that was special about this Chevette was the price, not much more than a Mini 1000, as it made the basic E model look positively luxurious as it came with vinyl seats, one sun visor, no rear demister and a limited choice of colours. Never saw many as motorists no longer wanted extremely basic cars, and those wanting a Chevette probably forked out a few hundred more for an E with cloth seats and a rear demister.

    • Vauxhall also made a similarly cheap & cheerful Viva S, supposedly after overproducing 2 door saloon bodyshells.

      To clear them someone had the bright idea of selling them with the minimum about of spec.

      • The Viva S (and Victor S) were mid 70’s limited models in a choice of metallic green or blue, black Vinyl Roof and black steel wheels with chrome wheel trims. They had velour interiors and were higher spec than the Viva E (which was the base model)

  151. Special editions tended to be poor value for money – you’d be lucky to get a nice paint job, 2 tone graphics, a 2 band radio, a sunroof perhaps (if you’re really) lucky, some nice or sometimes, rather vulgar, interior trim i.e. vulgalora upholstery, and not much else on top of the base model these cars are based on.

  152. There was a Chevette Jubilee launched in time for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee with silver metallic paint.
    Ford were the masters of the limited and special edition in the late seventies and early eighties. Anyone care to recall the Fiesta Firefly, which was just a basic model with red paint and cloth seats, or the Cortina Crusader, which was an L model with two tone paint( still looked very nice, though)?

    • I remember the Cortina Crusader 4-door saloon, it was slightly plusher than the standard Cortina, with stereo MW/LW/FM radio cassette, electric windows, and sunroof plus luxury seat trim.

      • Yes, me too, I drove a Cortina Crusader hire car. It also had wood door cappings and those Ford steel sports wheels with bright trim rings – bit like the Ghia.

        • The Cortina Crusader was a typical Ford run-out model with a high spec to both interest buyers & clear the parts bins for the Sierra.

          • Very true Richard. They did the same releasing limited edition Sierra’s when the Mondeo was due to launch. I knew someone who had a run out Capri called the “Laser” – think it was the 1.6

    • Ahh Fiesta Firefly, remember it well, with the cloth trim and red colour, it also had a basic 2 band pushbutton Ford MW/LW radio with fairish sound and dash speaker.

      • In those days( 1980), a push button two band radio was considered a highly desirable option as most basic European cars didn’t have them as standard. Ford’s radios were quite good as well, with a clear display and large buttons, and had a decent sound.

        • I remember how chuffed I was upgrading my basic radio for a radio-cassette back in the day. I now have a very decent Alpine stacking CD system specified as original equipment by the first owner of my 2001 Rover 75. Guess what? I hardly ever listen to CDs any more. They are of course regarded as an old fashioned listening medium and I suspect few, if any car makers even fit them these days. I’d be quite happy with a decent basic radio – funny how things go full circle as you get older!

  153. The Mk 2 Ford Fiesta Dash special edition, based on the Ford Fiesta Popular 950, 2 band radio cassette, sunroof, Dash graphics, came in a choice of colours and was one of the first Mk 2 Fiestas to get four face level vents fitted to the heating / ventilation system which gave cool centre vents air and warm heater demister air at the side vents at anything less than full heat settings. The lower basic Fiesta Mk2’s made do with 2 heater linked dashboard vents that made the interior stuffy at anything more than cold.

  154. Talbot used special editions near the end to shift cars they were phasing out like the Horizon. I do recall the Pullman, which was based on the Horizon 1.3 LS, which came with velour seats, tinted glass, metallic paint and a radio/cassette. Also it boasted a six year anti rust warranty, important as the seventies versions of these cars were notorious for rust.

  155. Peugeot 205 3 and 5 door 1.9 1FM based on the 205 GTI, it came with standard fit air conditioning, electric windows, sunroof, power steering, a superb stereo, and 1FM decals and graphics.

  156. The Ford Sierra Chasseur sticks in my mind as a rather odd name for a special edition. To most English folk it conjures up images of a tasty chicken dish though I suspect it was the French term for ‘hunter’ that Ford’s marketing team were really aiming at! Maestro Madras or Vectra Vindaloo anyone?

  157. DNV207T soldiered on until August ’88. What a month that was.

    Escort Bonus 90
    Corsa Euro 96 Edition
    Fiesta Popular Plus

    good times

  158. My driving instructor had a Mk3 Escort LX which was a dealer special as the LX trim hadn’t been introduced yet!

  159. Great article. Upon reading, I wonder if my dad’s ’89 Sierra was originally destined to become a dealer special. I remember seeing a white one in the show room that he was making noises about buying and then moments later being taken out to the workshop where there was a maroon one with absolutely nothing on it. He said ‘I’ll take it as it is’. It had no radio, had holes in the dashboard for extras… not even a badge on the back. It was a wonderful car that I eventually ended up owning for its last three years of its life. Ran for 16 glorious years and I still miss it today.

  160. Even the luxury car marques produced “special editions” There was the Jaguar XJ6 3.2 Gold a run out XJ40 poverty spec model with automatic transmission, metallic paint, leather seats, burr walnut, twin gold coachlines, gold plated jaguar badge and 16 inch alloys.

  161. Had a HC Viva X14 back in the day. 14 Xtras, rostyle wheels being my favourite, can’t remember the other 13 but they were pretty basic items.

  162. My first car was an AX 10E Splash, bought new by my folks in 1990. Bit of a bold colour scheme, nicknamed the girlie mobile at uni, but to be fair it was a decent job with a good radio cassette and better sunroof than the one in the Sierra we had at the time. We had one of the BX Meteors too, quite a classy job in the dark grey and very comfy!

  163. I don’t know if this is a special edition, as it’s not in the Skoda Fabia brochure, but have purchased a Fabia 1.0 S plus. This comes with the base 60 hp engine, actually more powerful than people think actually, and is based on the S, but with manual air conditioning and alloy wheels and costs slightly less.

  164. We’ve had a few special editions in the family over the years, my Great Uncle had a Peugeot 309 Look, my grandparents a Citroen BX St Tropez and Ford Fiesta Equipe and my stepdad a Fiesta Azura.

  165. The 1985 Renault 18 Special. A Mark2 GTS with Leather MOMO steeringwheel and a pop up sunroof. They were always silver with dark grey interior. Being a Renault the sunroof leaked so half a tube of silicone sealed shut. Looked interesting the blobs of silicone around the sunroof. Typically not mildew resistant silicone was used so… Hehehehe

  166. As far as entry-level models are concerned, am fascinated by the minimalist largely de-chromed Mini prototype with Minivan grille.

    A production version of such a car with detachable Minivan grille and (Chilean spec) 721cc (aka 750) A-Series as a truly entry-level Mini (below the Mini 850) would have been the closest thing to a British equivalent of the 603cc Renault 3 or even the much later badgeless and decontented Nissan Micra K11-based Muji Car 1000.

    While other factors are said to have made the Mini unprofitable to build prior to the better costed ADO20, could such a minimalist entry-level “Mini 750” (or “Mini 720”) not only be cheaper to make but at least be capable of breaking even or returning a profit had it been sold at close to the original Mini 850’s price of £496.95 (short of Duncan Stuart and his team at BMC’s Research Department being tasked at the outset at better costing the Mini/etc by cutting costs down by around £20-30+)?

    It was George Harriman who suggested to Alec for money to be spent jazzing up the minimalist looking first pre-production Mini with Dick Burzi’s styling department adding a grille and other chrome embellishments to it. To what extent jazzing it up for production contributed to the original Mini’s reputation for unprofitability via Ford’s claim of it actually costing around £539 to build is unknown.

  167. I can remember the Clubman name being revived in 1989 for a special edition 1.3 Maestro based on the basic model. Billy Connolly advertised the car and it featured a stereo radio/cassette and a sunroof.

  168. There was a runout version of the Ford Zephyr Six in late 1971 that featured metallic blue paint, a radio, vinyl roof and extra driving instruments. It seemed whenever Ford were phasing a model out, the special editions appeared to clear stock and were usually quite good, the Cortina Crusader being a real bargain.

    • I don’t recall the Zephyr 6 run out model but it sounds good back in the day. I remember a run out Sierra just before the Mondeo arrived but can’t think of its badged name. Usually they added trim and extra’s from Ghia spec cars at a cheaper price to clear stocks.

      • @Hilton D, I’m sure the upgraded Zephyr 6 came in the car’s last days to try and sell the remaining ones before the Granada replaced it. This had always been a slow selling car and was no match from the far superior executive cars from Rover and Triumph.

  169. How low? The Volvo Wentworth, a feeble product association because Volvo sponsored a golf tournament.
    How high? The Citroen 2CV Charleston, in Wine and Black, the paint scheme a perfect match for the style of the 2CV, was the 2CV in the style of Bauhaus?

  170. Th run out Sierras we’re the Azura, Chasseur and Quartz. I believe the Azura was the fully loaded version for GL money. Chassuer was a Ford special edition name from the past which was used on the Cortina and Granada.

  171. @daveh… I think I rode in a Sierra Chasseur Estate once (long time ago!) i seem to remember the names Azura & Quartz now.

    @Glenn… One of my colleagues who had Cortina company cars also owned a J reg Zephyr 6 that his wife mainly used in the mid 1970s

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