The ‘Special Edition’ can often be regarded as a poison chalice of sorts, and there have been a string of limited run models with relatively vague connections to external accomplishments.
When it comes to Formula 1, there have been a plethora of special editions with various tie ins to championship wins or just built as a nod to a long-lasting relationship. Some of these instances have resulted in accomplished models; others, not so much.
Ferrari 430 Scuderia 16M Spider
Kicking off with one of the good ones, and by good we mean superb. The Scud 16M was launched to celebrate Ferrari F1’s 16th Formula 1 Constructors’ World Championship in 2008 and resulted in one of the Italian firm’s most edgy, yet enthralling, open-top models. Just 499 were made and were pre-sold to select clients.
Armed with that naturally-aspirated V8 from the hard top Scuderia, the 16M Spider produced a smidge over 500bhp at a hair-raising 8500rpm. The 16M was also 80kg lighter than the regular 430 Spider thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre, while the chassis had been stiffened over the standard car to cope with its additional ability.
Lotus Exige LF1
While Lotus’ F1 involvement has been on-and-off in recent years, they are historically one of the most successful teams in the sport. To commemorate its long and enduring relationship with F1, it treated itself to the Exige LF1, with a mere 81 examples produced.
The mid-engined V6 sports car was given a welcome paint job, one that resembled the iconic black and gold of the Gold Leaf livery that graced its cars in the team’s most successful period. Touches of red were all also added to coincide with the then current Lotus F1 car.
While the mechanics of the car were fairly similar to the standard Exige (no bad thing), buyers benefitted from an Exige LF1 Membership. This brought with it a tour of the Hethel Lotus Cars production facility and the Endstone F1 headquarters, among a collection of Lotus F1 memorabilia.
If anyone loved an F1 special edition it was Renault. The French manufacturer has been in F1 as a team or just an engine supplier (or both) for decades. As a result, we have seen many Renault models affiliated with motorsport’s most premier discipline.
Arguably the most accomplished of these was the Clio Williams that arrived in 1993. The limited edition model was created to celebrate its relationship with the F1 outfit of the same name, with whom Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost had won the Championship in ’92 and ’93 respectively. Despite bearing the British team’s name, the Clio Williams was fully developed by Renault themselves, becoming one of the best loved hot hatches of its time and is still revered to this day.
The firm’s Renaultsport division subsequently produced the Clio 197 F1 Team R27 in 2007. The hot hatch was based upon the then fast Clio and was blazoned with F1 decals to let you know it was the special edition, of which just 500 were built. The R27 benefitted form the Cup Chassis but was pretty much mechanically identical to the regular 197.
Now for a slice of F1 affiliation that was perhaps not warranted. By anyone. The Renault Twizy isn’t exactly a normal vehicle to start with, but once it became the Twizy Renaultsport F1, things started getting really weird. Seemingly for a bit of ‘good fun’ Renaultsport decided to give the Twizy a KERS-boosted 97bhp powerplant, meaning it could race from 0-62mph in 6.0sec dead. However, after that six seconds, the KERS boost vanished and you were left with a miserly 17bhp and a ‘car’ that looks as though it’s the love child of a mobility scooter and a Max Power magazine.
Infiniti FX Vettel
Naming a car after an F1 driver usually isn’t the way to go (see the Fiat Seicento Michael Schumacher edition), and with the FX Vettel, it wasn’t a much better ending. With Infiniti, at the time, the headline sponsor for the then all-conquering Red Bull Racing team, Renault’s fancy sub-brand wanted to offer its customers something for the road to enjoy.
What was a good start to the FX Vettel was that the German champion was involved in its development a la Senna/NSX, but instead of a two-seater sports car, Infiniti offered an SUV weighing over 2000kg. Thankfully, it did have a big V8 producing 414bhp and could gun a 0-62mph sprint in 5.6sec. However, an asking price £47k over-and-above the FX50 for some Vettel add-ons never really cut it and no one particularly liked it.
Honda Civic Jordan
Most will remember the Jordan F1 team for their wild ways and rather enthusiastic boss Eddie Jordan. However, there was a time when the Jordan F1 team were considered giant-killers somewhat and had one hell of a 1999 season - with one car, anyway. The consistent campaign brought them two race wins, plenty of podiums and third in the Constructors’ Championship.
To salute this success with their engine supplier Honda, the Civic Jordan was born. Just 500 examples were produced, all adorning the famous Jordan yellow, inside and out. It made the most out of the 1.6-litre four-pot VTi-S engine, serving up a useful 160bhp and was the fastest Civic at time of production. Meanwhile, the exterior was given the EK9 Type R body kit, minus the grille and spoiler so it didn’t look too crazy. Naturally, they became a tuner’s delight and it is rare any two are the same.