Special editions are, in my eyes anyways, just a way to peddle more iron out of the door by giving off the illusion that you are holding on to something truly special once you have the keys in hand. Sometimes you do, but not often. More than likely, you are holding the keys to a marketing director’s brainchild. Sometimes this is a good thing, but over the years some strange special editions have come and gone that just leave you wondering, “Why?” These eleven are just scratching the surface of what could be considered “strange” from the manufacturers. Agree, disagree or have better suggestions? Let us know below!
It’s not that the Warlock wasn’t cool, it was that it was nearly redundant. Dodge already had a performance truck in the form of the Li’l Red Express, but the Warlock was the serious one. You could still get a 400ci big-block (not so sure about the 440 or not), you could get it in two wheel drive or four wheel drive, and you could get it in the pure 1970s black and gold, though red, orange and green were options. Warlocks were tape-striped inside and out and fit the mold of Dodge’s “Adult Toys” campaign very well. At least it was less creepy than the Street Van.
10. Lincoln Continental Mark V Givenchy EditionLincoln pimped the Mark V out to just about anyone who could design a paint scheme. You had the Bill Blass, the Cartier, the Diamond Jubilee, the Collector’s Series, and the Pucci, but we are going to pick on the Givenchy. For 1977 and 1978 it was a rolling emerald with a camel-colored roof and trim treatment, and in 1979 they were blue. Was there anything else to it? Not really, but it wasn’t like the Mark V needed any help in the big, luxurious two-door market, besides a severe horsepower injection. The only true way it’s special is if you dig a little into the engine…and let’s just say that we know a guy who has, and we like his work.
9. Dodge Dart Sport “Hang 10”
I’m too young to know, so will someone answer this for me, please: was the whole surfer thing still around in 1975? I thought that was a Sixties deal. Either way, Dodge was going for the look with the Dart Sport “Hang 10” edition. The special edition Dart Sport, carrying option code A63, was a basic Duster knockoff with any engine in the lineup, from leaning tower of power to the 360ci LA motor, a stripe kit on the outside, and the “Convertriple” seat setup inside of a white and OHMYGOD THAT’S BRIGHT orange interior. Orange on the dash. Orange carpeting. Chrysler’s bright white seats and door panels with a blue/yellow/orange stripe pattern. Prepare to be blinded.
9. Ford Gran Torino Starsky And Hutch EditionIt’s amazing that the Striped Tomato even existed…originally, the call was for Starsky to drive a convertible Camaro. But having a contract with Ford for lease vehicles, the studio ended up choosing the Gran Torino, complete with railroad tie bumpers and smoked-out V8s to play the role. The cars were so pig-slow that the rear ends were re-geared to make stunts possible, Paul Glazier (Starsky) immediately hated the car (and still does to this day) but yet, the show was so popular that at least a thousand red and white-stripe special edition Gran Torinos were sold by Ford. Fun fact: a former Starsky and Hutch Torino was driven by Cooter in an early episode of “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
Dressing up pickups in the early 1970s wasn’t too surprising. What was surprising was that Mopar jumped on the bandwagon…the Sweptline trucks weren’t exactly known for their luxurious treatments, but someone inside of Chrysler either was brilliant beyond his means or was one sick puppy, because the Dude was created. Take a stripe kit that looks like it was cribbed from the 1970 Super Bee, some paint colors that were ripped off of the musclecars, give it a Western theme (cowboy hat, y’all) and get …I can’t believe this part…Don Knotts, Barney Fife himself, to sell the truck. Today any Dude is rare as hen’s teeth, but if you see one with the word “Fargo” on the tailgate, snap that up no matter what…Mopar freaks will pay unreal amounts of money for it!
7. Ford Thunderbird Fila Edition
The Fila Thunderbird was an interesting combination: take the Aero Thunderbird, tart it up with the colors of tennis shoes, add on the name of an sportswear company, and in the trunk, just for good measure, throw in a canvas bag that contained a leather portfolio, a beach towel, a sun visor, a headband, and a pair of wrist bands. Because the Thunderbird was meant for an active lifestyle type now. Ford didn’t quite learn their lesson from this branding type, either…see also Mercury Villager Nautica and Eddie Bauer everything.
6. Ford “Stallion” Edition
Information on Ford’s “Stallion” package is somewhat scarce, but we will try to explain it the best we can. Ford was packaging together sporty models in the mid-1970s, and decided that the “Stallion” package would be a good go-to name. It fit, since two cars were named after horses and the Maverick conjured up images of cowboy culture if you thought about the name enough. The Stallion Pinto and Stallion Mustang II were dress-up kits, while the Stallion Maverick was essentially the replacement for the recently cancelled Maverick Grabber. As far as we can tell, 1976 was the only year for the Stallion.
American Motors tried hard to link their cars to fashion in the hopes that their stodgy image could be changed. There was the Oleg Cassini Matador Coupe and the Gucci Hornet…let that sink in for a second. The wildest pairing that Kenosha managed to come up with by far was the Pierre Cardin Javelin. Stripes abounded in this interior in their bright plum, orange and silver glory. This was disco before disco existed.
If the Pierre Cardin Javelin was the early sign of pure, unadulterated 1970s, the Levi’s edition Gremlin and Jeeps cemented it. The seat material wasn’t exactly jean denim, but it had the copper buttons and a Levi’s tag on the front of the seats. It might not have been the most subtle cross-branding effort, but compared to the Ford Econoline/Levi’s “Denimachine”, it was exceptionally tasteful. A thought: if the seat fabric gets old and starts to shred, does it work like jeans do and becomes more comfortable?
2. Buick Century Turbo Coupe
You have to wonder how long it took Buick and Oldsmobile designers to realize that the strange, chop-back styling of the Cutlass and Century coupes was a flop. It wasn’t a hatchback, which would have been one redeeming quality. Instead, it looked like 7/8ths of the standard car was built, then the designer said “aw, **** it” and drew a straight line down to the bumper. At least Buick was willing to try something new, and that sat underhood: a development of the turbocharged 231 V6 from the 1976 Century Indy 500 Pace Car. At 175 horsepower and 275 ft/lbs of torque, it wasn’t blisteringly fast, but by 1979 new car standards, it was a serious eye-raiser, and the start of something surprisingly sinister for Buick.
1. Imperial “FS Edition”
The amount of times I’ve gotten email and messages over this one…Yes, it’s real. Lee Iacocca and Frank Sinatra were good friends and Iacocca, ever the businessman, knew the power of celebrity endorsement. So when he green-lit the all-in 1981 Imperial line, he worked his magic with ol’ Blue Eyes himself to endorse the car. Frank agreed, on the condition of a $1 payday and the first Imperial off of the line. The Imperial FS is different that the other coupes for two reasons: the Glacier Blue paint (the color of Frank’s eyes, if you believe that) and a special little console that held the entire Sinatra cassette collection. Like a lot of other Imperial owners, the advanced EFI system (a modern version of the Rochester Electrojet) crapped out on him and Sinatra’s last car ended up being a mid-1980s Town and Country K-car wagon.