Theme: Special – Limited Runs

As we have found out while exploring this unusually fecund theme, special editions have a touch of the spurious. It doesn’t only apply to the volume car makers (who have that name for a reason).

2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Tour De France: source
2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Tour De France: source

It also applies in its own way to makers of cars that are supposedly exclusive already. Without looking up the numbers I am very sure that Ferrari sells fewer cars a year than Ford sells special edition Fiestas, for example. Yet Ferrari is not content to put five or six basic cars in their showroom, happy in the knowledge that only a few thousand find customers every year.

The Ferrari California T (essentially an up-rated 2013 Ferrari Maryland, I think) is available as a “Tailor Made” edition. It has stripes on the bonnet, to make it look faster. It succeeds the 2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta Tour de France special edition. That version had a 740 horsepower, 508 lb ft V12 and a name you might expect to have found on a Renault Super 5 in 1987.

Allegedly the car was named after a GTO which won the Tour de France in 1964. It’s hard to believe that many of the buyers of the car knew that in advance. Rather, the information is presented to the buyer as a little bit of connoisseur knowledge. I don’t imagine that very many actual Ferrari buyers (some do) will walk about with date of the 1964 GTO Tour victory in their heads and be pleasantly surprised by seeing a car named in memory of that event. It’s simply too fine a detail.

It makes me think of the bogus emphasis on unimportant peculiarities that whiskey makers use to market their over-rated lawnmower fuel: “The Kyle of McNevis Special 23 Years Old is a limited run of 1205 bottles, drawn from a special cask located in the north-north-east corner of the distillery where it is said its proximity to the sinuous course of the Dunromin stream gives the whiskey a tang from the muscovite, biotite and hornblende minerals in the granite over which it flows.

Further, the casks themselves are made from the finest Spanish oak. This is thought to give the elegant whiskey its distinct olives and chorizo flavour suspected by some to come from the fact the tapas is eaten in the same country as the barrels are made. In addition to this we have only one bottling of the 23 Year Old per year guaranteeing that supply is indeed limited to a very few hand signed, individually numbered bottles….”

As rare and unique as a pebble on a Scottish beach: source
As rare and unique as a pebble on a Scottish beach: source

You get the feeling that Ferrari’s marketing people have been tasked with reading the firm’s history expressly with the aim of finding something to tie to a car which would exist anyway. Indeed, I expect one could order a Ferrari F12 pretty much in the same specification as the Tour de France special edition long before they thought to bundle up leather, A/C and colour coded licence plate nut covers into a self-important special edition.


Isn’t there a touch of the Franklin Mint about these special editions?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

7 thoughts on “Theme: Special – Limited Runs”

    1. It runs completely against the sense of direction of the car. Have you ever seen the stop sign for a train? It’s a line transverse to the direction of travel.
      Quite apart from that, these limited runs are not much more limited than the car it’s derived from: 5000 cars with 75 as some special edition that looks like any of the other trim levels.

  1. Well, by arrangements too complex to detail here, I spent a week in the Ardbeg (Islay) Distillery manager’s home across the road from the works when it was in shutdown by its Canadian owners and up for sale. That was 1993. My proclivity for having full body ablutions each day, and there being no shower, was met with bath water drawn from the distillery’s supply brook. It was so dark in colour, so turbid that water, you could not see your body through it, an existential experience prior to morning coffee, whose opaqueness was also worrying. Wondering why these unique properties existed, my perambulations outside the dwelling determined the presence of a bucolically dimwitted flock of sheep spread across the brae, who naturally used the brook as both their water and sewage supply. Ahem.

    The manager, a most pleasant chap, thought nothing of it, but did have his share of a special cask of Bruichladdich, another distillery some ten miles distant. That was superb aqua, the best I’ve had before or since.

    Since then, and my three week distillery tour of Scotland, the marketing types and nitwit auction specialists have produced the silly language you so well lampoon in order to drive prices through the roof by impressing the johnny-come-latelies and punters with special editions.

    I can, however, only describe the use of the obviously Irish misspelling of that Scottish liquor as “whiskey” as being against all civilised behaviour. It is of course Whisky, without the extraneous “e”. Is there some reason, or indeed some unknown Irish-Scots jealousy, that propelled you to so lovingly misspell the word twice, sir?

    For shame. Bushmills in all its forms is indeed rotgut by any sane comparison to the lowest grade of Scottish single malt, which is no doubt why its sales languish in comparison to the real thing all around the world.

    There is, I believe, a lesson to be learned that Special Editions may or may not be special, with the “not” being most likely, being merely the product of marketing minds and ad writers intent on flogging the mundane as unique. And where matters as important as common tastefulness are disregarded in that quest, viz the above Ferrari.

    Good run of articles for February!

    1. Bill. Since 2¼ of the principals of DTW are Irish, I feel you should excuse the spelling, just as we excuse eccentricities such as ‘color’ from your Southern neighbours. As for the remarks about Bushmills and their ilk, I’ll leave it to those more Irish than I to comment.

  2. I agree- Bushmills is sludge. Johnny Walker Black Label trumps it which still underestimates JW’s superiority.
    Sorry for the mis-spelling. That was carelessness and not a cultural joke.
    Thanks for a beautifully composed post. It was a pleasure to read.
    Bruichladdich is indeed a fine drink, the nicest I had during my whisky years.

    1. Goodness gracious, I was merely trying to be somewhat comedic in the post! Please don’t dwell on that spelling of whiskey or my comments upon it in any way at all. It was part of the satiric screed. It’s the Americans who never understand when one points it out with regard to Scotch. A dull folk when confronted with a usage different from their own. Or as they would say, different than their own.

      Both you and Sean passed with flying colours obviously, and what’s more, I fully expected that to be the case. No apologies required required, here the record’s stuck – it just fitted in with the flow at the time, and if you ever do visit a distillery in Scotland, it will invariably be brought up once the guide ascertains a North American colonial is present, asking bizarre questions like – “What’s that?” pointing to a malt rake that hasn’t been used in a century.

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