Over the years, many automakers celebrated with an anniversary model, we look at the good ones

For an automaker, almost any excuse is an excuse good enough to roll out a special version of a model in the lineup. Be it the anniversary of the company itself or of that model, we’ve seen many dull models celebrate important landmarks, but here are 10 of the ones that weren’t boring nor easily forgettable.

The unveiling at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show of not one but two anniversary models, the Mazda Miata 30th-anniversary and the Volkswagen Jetta GLI 35th-anniversary, got me thinking and made me search for interesting anniversary models from the recent past. Here are ten most interesting from the 21st century - so don’t expect to see Lamborghini’s Diablo SE30 or the Subaru Impreza 22B to name but a few. Those deserve to have their story told another time.

2010 Jaguar XKR175 75th Anniversary

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Jaguar is one of the best well-known British luxury and sports car manufacturers of all time. The brand with the leaping cat proved itself in racing, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans no less than seven times with legendary cars such as the D-Type or the XJR-9, but also in the areas of refinement and exclusivity with the XJ sedan among others.

It’s also the company behind some of the world’s most revered design icons such as the E-Type and, as far as sports cars designs go, Jaguar still puts out one of the prettiest models out there with the F-Type. However, by the time the birthday cake was out and everybody was cheering on the eve of the automaker’s 75th birthday, in 2010, the F-Type wasn’t out so, instead, its predecessor was used as the base for an exclusive - only 175 units ever sent to the U.S. - anniversary model: the XKR175 Limited Edition.

Based on the XKR, which in itself is the stiffer and quicker version of the XK coupe, this model received a plethora of goodies, chief among which being the Autobahn-friendly electronic speed limiter that now allowed you to go as fast as 174 mph, up from 155 mph.

Only the 2011 XKR-S surpassed it in terms of top speed.

The XKR175 featured the AJ-V8 Gen. 3 R 5.0-liter, supercharged, V-8 capable of 503 horsepower and 461 pound-feet of torque. That was about as much power as you could get from a Porsche 911 (997) Turbo but 155 mph was all Wiessach’s finest could muster. The XKR175, though, offered more than just out-and-out speed. It had 20-inch ’Kasuga’ wheels, a subtle body kit comprising a more aggressive front bumper, extended side skirts, a skinny wing on the trunk lid, and a bigger diffuser down below. Inside, you’d find charcoal leather with cranberry-red stitching and piano black wood trim and some cheeky door sills displaying the number of each car in the series. Nine years ago, you could buy one of these for $104,500 or $120,400 today. Talking about the present day, one example was up for grabs on Bring A Trailer and didn’t meet the reserve with a top bid of $35,000... ah, depreciation!

Read our full review on the 2010 Jaguar XKR175 Limited Edition.

2017 Fiat 500 60th

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Now, what I didn’t mention in the box about the XK175 is that Jaguar tried to keep the XK - which was already six years old by 2010 - relevant by using and re-using the gimmick of special editions. There were a number of them for both the pre-facelift and post-facelift versions. However, in my view, no automaker beats Fiat when it comes to rolling out special edition models. I’m talking about Fiat and the 500 in particular.

When launched, back in 2007, the new 500 designed by Frank Stephenson was a big deal. It was Fiat’s attempt at making it big with a modern reinterpretation of the legendary 500, albeit one that would be targeted to a more up-market clientele and not the everyday man like the original Cinquecento. What followed was a flurry of special editions over the years. After all, the small (but still 19.68 inches longer than the original) chic city car is still in production today, 12 years later.

There was a Ferrari special edition, a Barbie version, a Gucci model and in Riva clothes inspired by the old yacht-making company. Today, mind you, we’re only interested in the 60th-anniversary special edition based on the 500 Cabriolet from 2017.

This one gets a creme and beige two-tone exterior (called Dolcevita), vinyl on the dash to remind you of the old days and multi-spoke wheels, instead of the 'full' rims of the 57th-anniversary edition launched three years earlier.

Only 560 units were built and they could all be had with any engine available with the 500 including the 1.2-liter, four-pot with 69 horsepower and 75 pound-feet of torque and the turbocharged, 0.9-liter two-cylinder with 85 horsepower. The 500 makes the cut because it harkens back to a legendary car and, well, it looks lovely in that color combo.

Read our full review on the 2017 Fiat 500 60th Anniversary.

2015 Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Edition

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You can’t put together a list of cool anniversary models without talking about a special anniversary Mustang. The Blue Oval’s soon-to-be only car sold in the U.S. is unarguably one of the most famous muscle cars ever - call it a pony car if you wish. The, traditionally, V-8 powered car has been around since 1964 and, happily, is in no mood to pack its bags and leave the scene. At least, not as long as the Camaro and Challenger are around and looking for a fight.

Upon first glance, you’d maybe think that this special edition ’Stang launched in 2015 (the original was billed as a 1964 and1/2 year model when first introduced) is just another white S550 Mustang.

However, the white you see, namely Wimbledon White, is precisely the same tint worn by the first ever production Mustang.

The 1,964 units were available in Wimbledon White or Kona Blue and were based on the GT version with the Performance Package included

The Performance Package offers 19-inch wheels, six-piston calipers in the front attached to the sizeable ventilated discs, and Pirelli P-Zero tires. The power comes from the ubiquitous 5.0-liter Coyote V-8 which churned out over 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque according to Ford (435 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque were the figures quoted for the standard 2015 GT). You could get a six-speed automatic mated to the engine - the only way you could have a ’15 Mustang with the Performance Pack and an automatic - or a six-speed manual.

The modifications extended beyond the unique paint. You got extra chromed trim pieces around the grille, headlights, taillights, as well as louvered rear quarter panel windows. Inside, there was cashmere on the steering wheel, the dashboard, door panels, seats, and the central armrest. The price for one four years ago was around $38,250-$39,715 depending on the choice of transmission, a $1,595 premium over a standard Mustang GT. The last 50th-anniversary example sold at auction for $170,000 while a one-of-one convertible was raffled away.

Read our full review on the 2015 Ford Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition.

2007 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti ’Sessanta’ Edition

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Ferrari has gone all-in when it comes to special models. The Italian manufacturer created a special department, called Ferrari Special Projects, to handle unique cars and, last year, announced the Icona line of limited-production models. The ’Sessanta’ 612 preceded both as it was unveiled in 2007 to mark the 60th anniversary of the company founded by Enzo Ferrari, the former Alfa Romeo racing team manager.

Appropriately, only 60 612 Scagliettis in this specification were ever built, each coming out of the Maranello factory dressed in a two-tone black over gray paint job or dark red over black.

The grille in the front is also different to the standard one with bigger rectangular holes in the egg crate mesh. The wheels, 19-inch forged alloys, are special to the ’Sessanta’ as are the black chrome exhaust tips in the back.

Inside, you could get a couple of special upholstery options with the ’Sessanta’ including gray leather for the seats, dash, and door panels. The piece de resistance in the cabin was, though, the three-position electrochromic glass roof (which allowed passengers to choose how dark the glass is), a first on a Ferrari production model.

Ferrari didn’t mess with anything technical on this 612 Scaglietti. The engine was the same, a 6.2-liter, naturally-aspirated, V-12 that put out 533 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque. To emphasize how far we’ve got in 12 years, a 2019 BMW M5 puts out 600 horsepower, reaches 60 mph in just 2.8 seconds, over a second quicker than the 612, and costs $103,595. The ’Sessanta’, on the other hand, cost $424,000 back in ’07 or $513,754 today. With that being said, the ’Sessanta’ was ludicrously expensive at the time of its release as you could get your hands on a barebone 612 Scaglietti for just $250,509 or $303,507 today. Then again, you know that Ferrari must put crazy price tags on their products to keep that halo image...

Read our full review on the 2007 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti ’Sessanta’ Edition

2008 Land Rover Defender SVX 60th Anniversary

2007 Land Rover Defender SVX
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Now, I know you might like what you’re seeing but, sadly, this Defender never made it Stateside. As you are probably aware already, the Defender was only available in North-America between 1993 and 1997.

The North-American Specification (NAS) Defender comprised two versions: the 110 sold in 1993 and the 90 between 1994 and 1997.

These models were vastly modified to comply with the U.S. safety regulations which makes them quite different from the European versions. As a by-product, the North-American models are more expensive than European exports by a large margin with some selling for as much as $140,000 while you can get your hands on an exported one for $30,000.

So, back to the SVX 60th-anniversary model. Here’s why we are sad it never reached our shores. First off, it was available in three different body configurations: open-top 90 (with no rear seats), closed top 90, and closed top (obviously) 110 (not available in the U.K.). All were painted satin black and came with 16-inch wheels and a silver front fascia. Inside, the basic seats were sent to the crusher and others from Recaro with increased side bolstering replaced them.

The cosmetic changes, including metal side-steps and metal undertray covers as well as the Garmin GPS and Clarion sound system, hid the fact that, mechanically, the SVX was as spirited as any other Defender. The engine was the same, a 2.4-liter Ford Duratorq inline-four turbocharged diesel mated to a six-speed manual. Only 1,800 of them were made of which only 300 were open-top 90s, making them quite desirable. Still, if you live in Europe, you can bag one for about $49,132 which isn’t far off the original MSRP actually, proving there are modern British vehicles that do hold up their value well!

Read our full review on the 2008 Land Rover Defender SVX 60th Anniversary

2004 Mini Cooper S MC40

This is a special one because it wasn’t built to celebrate the inception of the brand or the birth of the model. Instead, BMW celebrated the 40th anniversary of Mini’s first overall win in the grueling Monte-Carlo Rally by building 1,000 Cooper S-based MC40 models that harkened back to the winner of that rally. The car debuted at the 2004 Chicago Auto Show and all 1,000 units were meant for the U.S. market.

Each car was painted Chilli Red with a white roof, sat on 17-inch multi-spoke R90 wheels, and had chromed elements on the outside like the rear-view mirrors and the grille.

It also came with fog lights on mounted on the grille, an option on standard Cooper S models as well. These were part of the Sport Package which featured dynamic stability control, xenon headlights and the onboard computer. Don’t laugh, it was 2004 after all!

They all look cool, like most Minis - although the latest ones seem entirely too bloated for my liking - but, apparently, they didn’t see all that well. To push them off showroom floors, some dealers had to lure customers with discounts at the time. That doesn’t take anything away from the fact that today, a pristine example commands a price of almost $28,000. Under the hood of the Monte Carlo modern Minis, there was the same 1.6-liter, supercharged, inline-four Tritec engine linked to a six-speed manual transmission. The power output? 163 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. Not much considering a Neon SRT-4 made 230 horsepower in 2004. Then again, the ’04 Neon SRT-4 made more power than a Focus RS which only had 212 horsepower to offer, 42 more than the Focus SVT.

2003 Lamborghini Murcielago 40th Anniversary

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This is a subjective choice through and through. I could’ve have gone for the comprehensively better Aventador LP720-4 50 Anniversario but it doesn’t feel quite as special as the model put out by Lamborghini 10 years earlier, the Verde Artemis-colored Murcielago 40th-anniversary.

Basically, that color is one of the best ever to cover the razor-sharp lines of a Raging Bull from Sant'Agata Bolognese and it was only available on the 50 units made in 2003 to celebrate the now-middle-aged supercar maker.

Of course, it didn’t have the plethora of changes Lamborghini’s previous anniversary model did - the Diablo SE30 - but I promised myself I wouldn’t step outside the boundaries of the 21st century, so the 1990 Countach 25h-anniversary is also off bounds.

Continuing the discussion on the exterior, the special Murcielago has carbon fiber-coated door frames as well as the panel aft of the rear quarter window. The wheels are painted in anthracite gray with silver brake calipers and an altered exhaust outlet. Inside, the driver’s side of the cabin is covered Grigio Syrius perforated leather while the passenger’s side is bathed in, smooth, black leather.

Again, this only amounted in a stylistic departure from a run-of-the-mill Murcielago with power remaining the same. The shouty 6.2-liter, naturally-aspirated, V-12 cranked out 572 horsepower, 148 horsepower less than the Aventador 50 Anniversario, and 479 pound-feet of torque. 205 mph was as fast as the Murcielago could go, 12 mph slower than the Aventador. Granted, the contemporary Carrera GT was just as fast while the SLR McLaren could go 208 mph.

2011 Jeep Wrangler 70th Anniversary

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"One of the world’s few, true icons," is how FCA described Jeep in a press released put out eight years ago when the 70th-anniversary Wrangler was presented. In other cases, it would be easy to dismiss those words as empty PR talk but, in the case of Jeep and its iconic Wrangler, I reckon the statement isn’t far from the truth. Jeep actually prepared a whole lineup of special models to celebrate its 70th anniversary, but we’ll only talk about the Wrangler.

The package was available on Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited Sahara models with prices ranging between $29,420 for two-door models and $32,120 for Unlimited models.

That’s a lot considering the Unlimited started back then at only $13,300 and would set you back $30,500 if you added just about any optional extra you could get your hands on. But, then again, how often does Jeep celebrate it’s 70th birthday?

So, let’s see what you get for your Rubicon-buying sum of money. The engine, for starters, is the same as ever, the 3.8-liter V-6 that produces 202 horsepower and 237 pound-feet of torque with an average fuel economy of 17 mpg which stays the same regardless of your choice of a four-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. You also get the Command-Trac part-time four-wheel drive system that’s guaranteed to get you out of trouble in almost any given scenario despite the 18-inch aluminum wheels that adorn the exterior of the 70th-anniversary model. Beyond the usual silver and black exterior colors, an exclusive color was also available: Bronze Star Pearl.

Inside, there are more obvious signs (than the badges on the outside) that this is a special SUV: a unique pattern in the seat backs, contrasting stitching on leather surfaces and plushly carpeted floor mats. You’d also get leather, as with any other Sahara, but no air condition which was a $155 option.

Read our full review on the 2011 Jeep Wrangler 70th Anniversary

2013 Porsche 911 50th Anniversary

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Can you imagine the world of sports cars or, frankly, the automotive world as a whole without the Porsche 911? I, for one, can’t. I mean, the 356 is legendary in its own right but there’s nothing out there quite like a 911, regardless of the generation. Porsche knows that and often draws from its rich racing-infused heritage to put on the market special limited-edition models.

The 50th-anniversary 911 (991) is the most exquisite Carrera S from 2013.

That’s because is the only 991 Carrera S to live in the wider body of the Carrera 4, a model that’s usually AWD compared to the S that’s two-wheel drive. On the outside, you’re greeted by a light beige (Geyser Gray according to Porsche) body color similar to that worn by early Porsche 901s and extra chromed elements like the strakes of the bumper intakes. The 20-inch wheels, a modern take on the Fuchs classics, compliment the car’s retro look. Graphite Gray, Black Monochrome were the other two colors available.

Inside, Porsche allowed you to choose between gray leather and black leather with the seats displaying old-school-looking Pepita-style houndstooth cloth inserts. The gauges have white needles that point to green numbers. On the headrests, there’s the logo ’911 50’ embroidered in the leather.

Part of the deal is the Sport Chrono Package and the Powerkit which makes the power of the 3.8-liter flat-six grow from 400 to 430 horsepower. A seven-speed manual transmission and the brand’s seven-speed dual-clutch PDK automatic were available. With the latter, you could reach 60 mph from a standstill in just 3.8 seconds while top speed was 186 mph. That’s already in GT3 territory but so was the price tag - $125,050. If you’re a Porschefile, you already know they’re trading hands for much more today...

Read our full review on the 20134 Porsche 911 Carrera S 50th Anniversary Edition.

2013 60th Anniversary Edition 427 Corvette

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General Motors gave a pat on the back of the Corvette every time its prized sports car surpassed a certain age milepost. There was the 25th-anniversary Corvette launched 41 years ago with a silver-over-gray body as chosen by Bill Mitchell, the 35th-anniversary Corvette in ’88 painted in white with wheels to match, and also models to mark the 40th and 50th anniversary based on the C4 and the C5.

By the time the C6 generation dropped in showrooms, in 2004, the Corvette was looking on to its 60th birthday.

Sure enough, in 2013, the 427 Corvette C6 celebrated this landmark moment, a year after Chevy introduced the 100th anniversary Corvette built to honor the brand's 100-year-long history.

The 427 Corvette was as close as we got to a C6 Z06 Convertible. It had the carbon fiber front fenders off the C6 Z06 Coupe, but the chassis bars are made out of steel not aluminum like on a Z06. The engine, though, is the same: the 7.0-liter LS7 V-8 with 505 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. The mighty rumbling unit is mated to a six-speed manual and everything is kept steady by Magnetic Ride Control and a wheel/tire package in ZR1 sizes.

Weight was up by only 151 pounds to 3,404 pounds and that meant a 0 to 60 mph time of 3.8 seconds, as fast as that newer Porsche up above, and an 11.8-second quarter-mile run at 121.4 mph. These hardcore numbers more than back the double gray stripes along the white bodywork. Inside, blue leather was the only choice and the 10-spoke chromed alloys were also part of the bundle. You can buy one of these now for about $50,000.

Read our full review on the 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible Collector Edition.

Honorable mentions

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There have been many other special edition models made over the past 19 years and here are some that nearly made the list.

Opening the ’close but no cigar’ list is the Nissan GT-R R35 45th-anniversary edition built in a limited run of, you guessed it, 45 cars.

Painted in Silica Brass, it cost $1,000 over any other R35 which is quite something given that all you got for your cash besides that fancy paint was a plaque telling you that you're a lucky (and wealthy) guy.

The engine was the same 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 capable of 545 horsepower and 463 pound-feet of torque. Sure, as a Nissan fan, it’s a must-get, especially since only 30 were sold in the United States in the first place.

McLaren also celebrated its half-century of existence with a peppered up car. The MP4-12C Anniversary was offered both with and without a fixed roof, each version only totaling 50 examples. Not all were painted in McLaren’s traditional tint of orange and there was a modified splitter in the front as well as ’McLaren 50’ printed on the tall door sills. One sold recently on BaT for $138,000 and, in the listing, it’s mentioned that the Anniversary package (including a printing signed by McLaren’s CEO) added $28,410 to the base price for an MSRP of $307,240. Quite a lot, even for a car with only 670 miles on the clock and 616 horsepower on tap.

Finally, the last honorable mention goes to the now-defunct Scion brand which celebrated its first and only decade in business with a special trim level available for every car in the lineup. The 2013 package included "Silver Ignition exterior color, Scion badges at the front and rear backlit with blue LEDs, silver seat belts and a solar-powered illuminated shift knob." Some of those add-ons seem like stuff you wouldn’t want in the first place but, hey, at least you got gray alloy wheels on the iQ, xB, and xD. The Scion ’10 Series’ comprised 10,000 vehicles in all: 3,500 units of the tC, 2,500 of the FR-S, 900 of the iQ, 2,100 of the xB and 1,000 of the xD. The FR-S, the most exciting of the lot, can be had today at an average price of $12,500 on the used car market. The others are even cheaper and are remnants of a failed business model.

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