As the motorsport season draws to a close, manufacturers will be thinking about how best to capitalise on their success to sell more cars. Some, however, will be looking to go further, building special editions to show just how good they, or their drivers, are on track.
- These are all the cars featured on The Grand Tour so far
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2015 Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic Petronas Edition
With three F1 titles in three years, Mercedes-Benz has a lot to shout about when it comes to motorsport. This was its effort in 2015: an AMG A45 hot hatch, with an F1-inspired silver and turquoise colour scheme. Note the bright green wheel rims. Not one for shy, retiring types.
2014 Mercedes-AMG SL 63 World Championship Collector’s Edition
Possibly sensing the tension that was to come, in 2014 Mercedes let Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg design their own SL 63 roadsters. Hamilton opted for matte black and gold, while Rosberg favoured luxurious white. Only sold in pairs to specially selected customers, the price for a matching set was more than £500,000.
2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss
Proving that special editions don’t always have to celebrate F1 championship wins, in 2009 Mercedes got extreme with the SLR in honour of Sir Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia record. Ditching the roof and windscreen created a speedster capable of a – very windy – 217mph. You had to already be an SLR customer to be considered, with just 75 examples produced at £660,000 each.
2014 Caterham Seven Kamui Edition
He might not have won races or titles, but Kamui Kobayashi proved to be popular during his time in F1 with Caterham. Helpfully, Japan is a big market for the Caterham Seven, so selling a run of ten Kamui editions should have been fairly easy. There’s only one seat, an anodised green key and a dashboard with Kamui’s name inscribed into it. Power isn’t quite F1-like, though – with just 123hp from a 1.6-litre Ford engine.
2001 Fiat Seicento Sporting Schumacher Edition
How do you celebrate Ferrari’s first F1 World Drivers’ Championship in more than 20 years? By sticking the name of your successful driver on the boot of a 54hp city car, of course. While Michael Schumacher may have gone on to become Ferrari’s favourite son, things started out with just 1.1 litres and a top speed of 93mph.
2005 Fiat Stilo Schumacher GP Version
Things got slightly better for Schumacher in 2005 when, after clinching his fifth title in row the year before, he was rewarded with this. The special ‘GP’ Stilo was produced for the UK, and featured tuning by Prodrive, which added 18-inch alloy wheels, uprated suspension and a stainless steel exhaust system. Power was unchanged, with the 2.4-litre 5-cylinder engine making 170hp – an output slightly more respectable than the Seicento.
2017 Ferrari 488 GTB ‘The Schumacher’
As part of Ferrari’s 70th anniversary in 2017, the Italian brand is planning a range of 70 special editions celebrating key models and liveries. Naturally, Michael Schumacher features on Ferrari’s list, and this time his name will grace a range of performance cars befitting his name. This livery is inspired by the F2003-GA F1 car, which Schumacher took to championship victory in 2003.
1993 Renault Clio Williams
In the early 1990s, Williams-Renault was a dominant force in Formula 1, with Constructors’ titles in 1992, ’93 and ’94. The first-generation Clio was also enjoying success as the 1991 European Car of the Year. Combining the two, and adding a 150hp 2.0-litre engine and gold Speedline wheels, produced an iconic hot hatch. The original 390 cars sold in the UK now attract a cult following.
2005 Renault Megane Renaultsport 225 F1 Team
As a contender for the longest name on our list, Renault’s celebration of both 2005 Drivers’ and Constructors’ F1 Championships is a contender. Ultra Blue paintwork, matched with very bold decals and black alloy wheels, made the 225 F1 Team visually impressive. Under the bonnet lurked the same 2.0-litre turbo engine from the regular RS Megane.
2006 Renault Megane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26
In order to celebrate back-to-back title successes, Renault made the name for the 2006 special edition Megane even longer. Along with crazier graphics and a wider choice of colours, Renaultsport also added 5hp and a limited-slip differential. The latter made it popular with those fond of track days – and arguing on internet forums about which Megane is best.
2013 Renault Sport Megane Red Bull Racing RB8
Ah, how fondly Renault must look back on 2013. As the supplier of the V8 engine in Red Bull Racing’s hugely successful F1 cars, Renault could lay claim to having played a part in four continuous Constructors’ and Drivers’ F1 titles. Enter the Megane RB8, with Twilight Blue paint, Recaro seats and Red Bull logos everywhere. Just don’t mention what happened in 2014, when new F1 engine regulations were introduced…
2013 Infiniti FX50 Sebastian Vettel Edition
Much like Renault, Sebastian Vettel was riding the crest of a wave in 2013. He was racking up wins on track with consummate ease, thanks to his Red Bull Racing F1 car. For 2013, RBR’s title sponsor was Infiniti – somewhat confusing when Renault was the engine supplier. Matte white paintwork, an F1-inspired bodykit and a 420hp 5.0-litre V8 made for a tenuous motorsport link when applied to luxury SUV. A retail price of more than £100,000 in the UK meant you really had to be a Vettel fan to want one.
2015 McLaren P1 Alain Prost Edition
Alain Prost courts controversy amongst F1 fans, due to his infamous rivalry with Ayrton Senna. Created for the 2015 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the McLaren P1 Prost Edition featured a unique red, white and blue livery, based on the Frenchman’s helmet design. Prost won three F1 titles with the Woking-based team, garnering the attention of the McLaren Special Operations outfit.
1989 BMW E30 M3 Cecotto and Ravaglia Editions
Proving that special editions don’t always have to be F1-themed, BMW went to town with the success of the E30 M3 in touring car racing. Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto took many of those victories, so was honoured with a limited edition version of the M3 road car. The UK market received an even rarer version, named after Italian driver Roberto Ravaglia, who had claimed four championships with the M3.
1991 BMW E34 M5 Cecotto and Winkelhock Editions
Johnny Cecotto proved to be a lucrative marketing device for BMW as, in 1991, his name was also added to a special version of the E34 M5. Cecotto picked his own colour combinations and interior trim for a limited-run super saloon. Joachim Winkelhock, winner of the 1990 and ’91 Nürburgring 24 Hours for BMW, also got to specify his dream lightweight M5, with reduced sound deadening and Recaro seats.
2016 BMW M4 DTM Champion Edition
Proving that BMW is still keen to use motorsport to sell cars, Marco Wittman’s victory in the 2016 DTM series gave the firm a chance to bust out the stickers again. Although you might not have heard of Wittman, this DTM special is a actually a thinly disguised version of the sold-out M4 GTS. With 500hp and a giant rear wing, you probably won’t care about explaining who your car is meant to be honouring.
2013 Audi A5 DTM Champion Edition
The DTM series has a track record for inspiring celebratory limited editions. Back in 2013, Audi used Mike Rockenfeller’s championship win to produce 300 special examples of the A5. Sadly, there was no thumping race-car-derived V8 underneath the bonnet, but a 2.0-litre diesel instead. It didn’t come to the UK, but we’re not too sad about that…
2007 Citroen C2 by Loeb
When a height-adjustable driver’s seat counts as a feature in a press release, expectations are correspondingly low. Yet, that was a key feature for Citroen’s special edition of the C2 supermini in hour of Sebastien Loeb’s four WRC titles from 2003 to 2006. A choice of red or black paintwork, and the option of a SensoDrive robotised manual gearbox were as good as it got for the C2 by Loeb.
2007 Citroen C4 by Loeb
While Loeb would use a Citroen C4 in his (successful) assault on the 2007 World Rally Championship, the road car was not a flame-spitting replica. Nope, there’s no 4WD or big turbo engine to be found here. A 180hp 2.0-litre 16v petrol was the quickest engine on offer, but then we’re pretty sure Loeb’s work machine didn’t come with a leather-trimmed armrest or cruise control as standard. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.
1999 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen Edition
Before Sebastien Loeb there was Tommi Makinen, a Finn who dominated rallying with four WRC championships for Mitsubishi between 1996 and 1999. Thankfully, the Lancer Evo was a genuine rally replica, so the addition of a bespoke bodykit, uprated turbocharger and lowered suspension only made it even quicker and cooler.
1995 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000 Series McRae
Subaru produced many special motorsport editions of the first-generation Impreza, but the Series McRae cars from 1995 are particularly special. In honour of the late Colin McRae’s impressive rallying ability, 200 cars received Rally Blue paint with gold 16-inch Speedline alloy wheels. Recaro seats and an individually numbered plaque completed the transformation.
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STI WR1
Norwegian Petter Solberg took the 2003 WRC title fight down to the wire, and emerged victorious over that pesky Sebastien Loeb by one point. To say well done, Subaru produced 1,000 examples of the WRX STI in a special Ice Blue colour scheme. With power increased to 320hp, plus lowered suspension springs provided by Prodrive, the WR1 had bark to match its visual bite.
2007 Subaru Impreza WRX STI RB320
Richard Burns is the only Englishman to be a World Rally Champion, and he did it with Subaru in 2001. Tragically, he died from a brain tumour in 2005 at the age of only 32. To commemorate his championship victory and WRC legacy, Subaru built the RB320, which was available only in Obsidian Black. The first car produced was auctioned, with proceeds going to the Richard Burns Foundation.
2002 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Dale Earnhardt Signature Edition
Dale Earnhardt was a giant of NASCAR racing, taking seven Winston Cup titles and earning the nickname of ‘The Intimidator’ for his aggressive driving style. This made his death, in a final-lap accident during the 2001 Daytona 500, even more shocking to the NASCAR community. In his memory, 3,333 Monte Carlo SS models, featuring a colour scheme based on his iconic NASCAR racer, were built. Today they prove to be desirable collectors’ items for stock car fans.
1994 Ducati 916 Senna and 2014 Ducati 1199 Panigale S Senna
Ayrton Senna is revered as being one of the most talented drivers to grace the F1 stage. His tragic death in 1994 created a shockwave through the sport and beyond. Senna had signed off on a special edition Ducati 916 shortly before his untimely death, with production completed in his honour. Twenty years later, Ducati recreated a Senna version of the 1199 superbike, with proceeds from the sale of the 161 examples being donated to the Senna Foundation.