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We're Living in the Age of the Sports Car Special Edition

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2018

It has recently come to my attention that we're living in the age of the sports car "special edition." I noticed this when I started thinking about modern sports cars, and I realized that every single one of them seems to offer some sort of special edition, usually to attract more sales after the initial version has already made its splash.

The best example, of course, is the Porsche 911. Just 20 years ago, Porsche had a 911 Carrera, a Carrera S and 4S, and a Turbo, and that was pretty much it. No longer. Now the 911 lineup is released in tiers designed to extract the maximum sales possible: first the regular version, then the Turbo, then the GT3, then the GT3RS, then the GT2RS and mixed in there are the GTS and various anniversary editions, among other things.

Other sports car automakers seem to be following Porsche's lead. We had the Lamborghini Gallardo and then the Gallardo Superleggera. We had the Ferrari 458, then the 458 Speciale and finally the 458 Special A. Even the ultra-crazy supercars don't seem to be immune: the McLaren P1, followed by the P1 GTR. And there was the Porsche 918 Spyder, followed by the 918 Spyder Weissach Edition.

And not just exotic brands are releasing all these sports car special editions. There was also the Nissan GT-R -- and once Nissan had maximized sales of the "original," we got the GT-R Nismo and the GT-R Black Edition. The Audi R8 V10 wasn't enough -- we needed a V10 Plus. Even the Subaru BRZ did it, with the "tS" model that's intended to be a more focused version of the original.

It's obvious why automakers do this, and I hardly fault them for it: They can sell the same car twice. Someone who buys a 911 might be seduced by the 911 Turbo when it comes out, so they sell the 911 and get a Turbo. Then the GT3 comes out, and again they're intrigued -- so they buy that next. And the pattern continues, with people remaining loyal to their brand because new models keep coming out to entice them.

The only recent sports car I can think of that doesn't have a "special edition" is the Acura NSX; Acura seems to have built the NSX basically one way, without any new models or editions. Of course, now that I've said that, expect Acura to release the inevitable special edition sooner or later.

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We're Living in the Age of the Sports Car Special Edition - Autotrader