Hooniverse Asks: What's the rarest version of your car?


When the Strich Acht production run was over and accounted for, Mercedes-Benz had cranked out nearly two million examples. Of those, 1.9 million were sedans while less than 100,000 were the beautiful coupe version of the car. Of course, there are even more rare versions but these typically don’t come from the factory. We wind up with wonderful variations on a theme thanks to the work of coachbuilders.
Take, for example, this Binz Benz seen above. That’s a two-door pickup truck version of the W115. Mercedes-Benz actually saw a version of this created for the Argentinian market, and it was dubbed La Pickup.

I would be shocked to come across a W114 or W115 truck today. This has to be amongst the rarest version of my own car (a 1974 280 sedan).
What about your own vehicle? What sort of weird and rare variations exist? Sound off below!

86 Comments

  1. There were plenty of one-off NA Eunos Roadsters, but I’m going to discount those and only counting stuff that the general public could buy, probably the M2 1002 “vintage roadster” version of the Eunos Roadster, which they planned to make 300 of, but even in bubble era Japan, could only shift 40 out the door, the unused interiors found their way into other cars. It’s kinda easy to see why and proves something most people in the classic car world don’t get: rarity does not equal desirable or neccesarily high value. Most roadster owners liked the cars simple stripped down appeal, so clubman and RS models are always in high demand, where a faaaaancy version will do less well.
    http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Mazda-MX5-Miata-M2-1002-01-640×426.jpg

    1. Is that just a local distributor stickers and wheels pack or is there any more substance to it? Unofficial “sport” (note inverted commas) versions are pretty common in many Euro countries.

    1. I’ve attempted several times to educate myself on what exactly a Miller cycle engine is and always come away thinking it sounds like unconventional camshaft timing.

      1. In the simplest, practical. not quite accurate terms – It’s unconventional timing combined with a supercharger. I don’t think it technically needs a supercharger to be a miller cycle, but it benefits from having one.

        1. Right, it kind of turns the intake manifold/plenum into a dual pressurized space with the supercharger pushing from one side and the compression stroke/open intake valve pushing from the other.

      2. I love the Miller cycle because it comes purely out of math. you can come up with explanations that sound intuitively correct, but they’re lacking until you can put numbers to them. I have completely forgotten the thermodynamics behind the cycle, but I assure you the proof was very convincing.

      3. Essentially, the original Miller patent was on a supercharged engine with an extra decompression valve (with a variable valve lift mechanism) that allowed excess intake charge to escape.
        The original Atkinson cycle engines used a linkage to vary their stroke length, such that the intake/compression strokes were physically shorter than the power/exhaust strokes. This was originally done to avoid patents on Otto cycle engines, and then it was found to be more efficient. However, the reciprocating mass is quite high on a true Atkinson cycle engine – I believe there’s only one modern one, the Honda EXlink 110/163 cc generator engine.
        So, technically, what we call “Atkinson” and “Miller” cycle today is really neither Atkinson nor Miller cycle (although it’s far closer in concept to Miller than Atkinson, arguably, even when not using forced induction, which is why Mazda calls naturally aspirated late intake valve closing engines Miller cycle, but the lack of forced induction causes everyone else to call it Atkinson).
        In either case, that’s what it is – late intake valve closing, which pushes out excess intake air.
        This gets you a couple things.
        With less air in the cylinder, you can increase static compression ratio (and therefore the ratio of expansion during the power stroke) and not get detonation, so you get more work out of the fuel that you burn. This makes things more efficient.
        Now, you could just close a throttle plate, and then there’s less air in the cylinder. However, the engine has to work to create a vacuum against a closed throttle plate, and this is far less efficient than pushing excess air out (this is actually a lot of how diesels get better efficiency, they don’t have a throttle plate, and just have all of the excess air and run lean all of the time, but running lean causes nitrogen oxide emissions problems).
        You can use variable valve timing to take all of this further, too, with an Otto cycle engine. Instead of throttling back, retard the intake cam timing to reduce the amount of air in the cylinder.
        And, there’s also early intake valve closing, which does the same thing effectively. Volkswagen calls this the “Budack” cycle, but there’s other engines that do it too (Fiat’s MultiAir engines have no intake cam, and hydraulically actuate the intake valves, both closing them early and reducing valve lift when small air volumes are needed). And, variable valve lift systems try to do the same thing, too.

    2. http://www.drivewaycanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BM-Mazda2-Yozora-04-670×400.jpg
      Since you’ve provided my answer (one I didn’t even know about), all I have to offer is the Mazda2 Yozora – a special edition done by Mazda Canada in 2011, they only did 500. Mostly it was just the top spec options with a nice set of 16″ wheels (rumour has it they still have a bunch of wheels in a local warehouse), and the 2 graphics. Mine’s a plain ’14, but there’s a Yozora in my neighbourhood.

      1. “Night sky” edition without star decals…Japanese restraint is something for itself.

  2. The rarest vehicle I own is my 2000 Husqvarna SM610S. They imported 50 of them. The rarest version, however, would be the SM610R, which was imported in single digits (possibly as few as 2).
    My rarest car is my ’09 9-7x Aero. They made fewer than 150 Aeros in 2009. They only made 21 of them in silver, but mine is the far more common Carbon Flash Metallic (black).
    ’04 – ’06 GTO owners are almost as bad as Corvette owners with “they only made X of these in this color with X and X”, but there is one option that deserves that sort of particularity – The ’05 BZJ. BZJ was the smooth hood option (’04 hood on an ’05). Only 24 buyers checked that option. Mine is not a BZJ, but thanks to a minor shunt by a skinflint previous owner, it became a BZJ clone.

      1. I have a few more, but I can’t find reliable numbers of their rarest versions, so they didn’t make the list.
        Unless I start talking specific options, my Saturn Astra is rarer than my GTO, but they didn’t make a “rarest” version. Most of them were 5 doors and automatics, so my 3 door 5-speed is at least down in the 4 figures production-number-wise.
        There is nothing particularly rare about my XJS, but there exists a “rarest” version of it. The pre-HE with the manual transmission are so rare they are almost mythical, and I can’t find production numbers on them.
        Like my Jaguar, my Checker is rare only due to attrition. They were once quite common, and mine is a standard A12. It’s hard to nail down a rarest example, but there is legend of one or two factory built prototype pickup trucks. The rarest “volume” cars would be the 6 door sedan-back Aerobuses, or the raised roof Medicabs, but again, I don’t know the numbers.

    1. The Corvette thing is odd. They can document who has the third to last two-tone paint four speed car ever made in the St. Louis factory. It’s more like stamp collecting than anything else car related.

    2. You can add ’14-’17 SS owners in your group too. Although it’s pretty easy when there are only a couple of options available. For the MiSSus’ 2016, hers is 1 of 6 in Some Like It Hot, manual, no sunroof, no spare. The rarest for 2016 is a 1 of 1 Regal Peacock Green, automatic, no sunroof, no spare.

      1. In that case, does an Eshelman Golden Eagle count as a rare Corvair? Or should I count the UltraVan instead?

    1. I lived by where they made the Solstice, seeing the coupes drive around before they were production was neat. Too bad they were never really given a chance. I liked them more than the convertible

      1. I wanted a base coupe back then before I got mine, but by then I can already buy two convertibles for the price of one coupe.
        And I assume you also saw the Corsicas rolling out of that factory, lol.

        1. Corsicas, Baretta’s, L-series Saturns, 90’s chevy malibu’s and Chevettes. They also produced the Fisker for a short time after GM sold it. Sadly now it sits empty. There’s rumor of it being broken up for smaller manufacturing facilities

      1. I agree, these are awesome. Fortunately, it’s a fairly straightforward conversion to create one, assuming you can find a wrecked Cobra. I’ve seen several manual-converted Vics using modified Mustang pedal assemblies.

        1. Yes. Except I live in CA, and the ecomentalist smog Nazi’s make drivetrain swaps a beaurocratic nightmare.

          1. Oh, that’s right… I forgot. I recall the Pinto discussion. I love California, but damn do they make it hard on car guys.

          2. CA emissions inspections accept ZERO mods for cars as far back as 1975. As such, pre-1975 cars are gold here. As such, my 1968 Mustang is a raised middle finger with its complete lack of emission controls—a nice properly jetted four-barrel Holley carburetor..no EGR…no EVAP controls…no timing retard… A lovely odor I might add….

  3. My rarest car is the ’96 Miata R package in my profile pic. They made about 90 or so in ’96, even fewer in ’97 (47?). My ’60 Austin Healey 3000 isn’t really rare at all with 11,000 of them being built, but it gets much more attention than the Miata. Ihttps://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ebcec8870480dc688a8cd3ec16f31508095696687410f9f77faeb8fe7034f7b1.jpg

  4. A beacon of efficiency:
    “In December 2003, Honda Stream Absolute debuted with DI 2.0 L K20B engines with improved fuel efficiency equipped with CVT. The K20B was first ultra-lean petrol engine using direct injection technology which was only offered in Japan. No other Honda vehicles were equipped direct injection technology until the Earth Dream engines were produced in 2011 be marketed in the United States.”
    (Wikipedia)
    Ok, nobody said this ought to be exciting, right?
    https://img03.carview.co.jp/cvmaterials/modelimages/gallery/3/36238.jpg
    Non-factory, but van-pimping is obviously a thing in Japan. I would be ridiculously surprised if I found something like that in Europe though:
    https://www.mzspeed.co.jp/ZEUS2002_2/images/01-1_STREAM02.jpg

  5. The rarest LTD Country Squire probably used to be the Wagon Queen Family Truckster edition, of which there were five originally built, but many more have been cloned since then.
    Do Syclones count for 1992 Typhoons? If so, 1992 Syclone: quantity of 3 produced.
    I’ve owned 2 Challenger R/T convertibles. 985 ever produced for US market, plus another 85 for export. I’ve had co-workers with a couple similar to mine. We all had the comparatively common 383 powerplant. Had any of us been fortunate enough to own the hemi version, that would have been 1 of 9.

  6. 944: There was a prototype that achieved 7th overall in Le Mans in 1980, driven by Barth and Röhrl. That car “is so rare that the only existing replacement [for a broken ECU] is on its sister car” says Autoweek.
    There are numerous one-offs, but only so few that have a sister car, I guess.

  7. I don’t have official numbers (and sadly I don’t have the car any more) but the Buick I had in college had to have been the rarest of the 1961 Buicks. It was a Special station wagon equipped with the aluminum V8 that went on to power so many legendary British cars and a 4 speed manual transmission. Known on campus as The Great White Hopeless, it was no hot rod. In fact it was literally falling apart. The engine blew up due to a botched valve job by a previous owner, but I rebuilt it over Christmas break. Coming back from a trip to Northern Cal I was merging onto I-5, shifted into 4th gear, and the whole shift linkage fell through the floor and started dragging on the ground. Found some wire, secured the shifter so it wouldn’t drag, and drove the 350 miles home in 4th gear. But it was rust that killed it. When a shock absorber fell off because its mounting bracket had rusted away I knew it was time to look for a replacement.
    Pic is not my car, but same color and similar level of rust. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/162e89d07efb35be5d0d52500799f885400507fd777f950a390919d88d84fdda.jpg

    1. Why does this look good to me now? I am old and weird, apparently.
      That snuck up on me.

        1. A new 2.3L turbo out of a Mustang would slide right in there too. It would be fun.

    2. there was one sitting down the street from a friends house maybe 5 years ago, haven’t been down that part of the road to see recently if its still there, from what I remember its the same exact colors as the one shown

    1. I had a 1992 Thunderbird S/C, not a real common car to start with, but mine had the 5-speed stick shift, less than 10% of production.

  8. This is a surprisingly difficult question, as I have enough trouble keeping track of the common versions of some of my vehicles without getting into the question of which are the “rarest” variants, but I’ll see what I can do:
    1959 Ford Skyliner: The ’57 model had the options of dual four-barrel carbs (E code) or a supercharger (F code) and the early-production “prototype” cars without the Skyliner name on them are unusual. The ’58s had the option of a NASCAR engine or air suspension (Ford-Aire). The ’59s, however, don’t have much by way of unusual variations. Some ’59s are Galaxies and some aren’t, but both types are fairly common. I’ve heard rumors of ’59s built with manual transmissions or Mileage-Maker Six engines (not officially available for the retractable hardtop), but have never seen one.
    1967 SAAB 96: All sorts of stuff could be added to these from the pages of the Sport and Rally Catalog. I suppose one of the factory-prepped rally cars would be the rarest.
    1970 International Harvester 1200D: This is from the days when IH would build pretty much whatever the customer wanted, so I’m guessing at least one person ordered one with three fuel tanks, three spare tires, and no rear axle. Those were all real options.
    1975 and 1976 Volvo 66 GL: I honestly have no idea. Information welcome.
    1977 Lyman Electric Quad: Optional surrey top. I really want an optional surrey top. There’s a Lyman in a museum in Arizona with a reproduction top.
    1978 and 1980 KV Mini 1: The “snow kit” consists of factory-mounted ice scrapers for the drive rollers. The number so equipped is uncertain and none are known to have survived.
    1981 American Microcar Tri-Ped: Optional doors and canopy. I know of one person who has a set.
    1981 HMV Freeway: At least one electric example was produced but it is even tippier than a gasoline-powered Freeway thanks to the unavoidably high placement of the batteries. A diesel variant was offered but not produced, apparently for the simple reason that nobody ordered one.
    1982 Austin Allegro 3: Some rare Allegros weren’t actually called Allegros, such as the Innocenti Regent and the Vanden Plas 1500, and there were aftermarket Allegro convertibles offered with varying degrees of factory approval, but, um, maybe the Equipe?
    1983 Austin Maestro Vanden Plas: Well, mine has the BL R-Series engine. That was only briefly in production before being replaced by the somewhat less explodey BL S-Series.
    2006 Zap Xebra: The rarest version without question must be one that’s functional. Mine is not.
    2011-12 UW Formula SAE T23: They only made one.

      1. Mine aren’t DAFs! They’re Volvos!
        No, wait, you’re right, they’re pretty much entirely DAFs. Both of mine are RHD (as is the other one in the US) but I do recall that only about ten percent are so configured. For some reason all three people who so far have brought one to the US has gone with a British-market car.
        Good call on the Maestro Turbo. If I’m going to bring up the Regent and the VP 1500, then MG-badged cars should certainly count.

        1. British prices for classic cars, as well as most used cars, are ridiculously low. That said, I have never seen a 66 of either brand that I considered expensive either. Occasionally, some LHD 66’s show up and there is barely any price difference on the garden ornament to driver condition scale. Haven’t seen a concours 66 yet though.

    1. Your International Harvester reminds me of reading the option sheet for the 1979 Chevrolet Blazer when I had one. The following were all OPTIONAL: rear seat, passenger seat, soft top, hard top. It was technically possible to get one with only a driver’s seat and NO roof.

  9. it’s mine! there were very few P80-chassis Volvos (S70 era – no 850s) sold in the USA with turbos and stick shifts, and only a few hundred of those were wagons. I think mine is one of maybe 300 total turbo-manual wagons. (surely that number has been approached or exceeded by swaps.) I hadn’t been searching for a turbo, just a wagon with a manual, and when one popped up after a few months with the snail I did some research and jumped on it. glad I did – it’s not *that* fast, but it gives me something to aspire to (see every sentence starting with “once I get all the issues fixed up, I’m gonna…” ). its rarity is surely part of the reason I’ve had it five years, way longer than I’ve kept any other car – I doubt I could find another I liked as much if I sold it, and I know I’d regret it if I did.

  10. Very difficult to answer.
    My facelift Sunbeam Imp Sport is pretty rare. Between October 1968 and 1970 they built around 1500 of them and there are only a handful of survivors.
    Does this include prototypes that never went into production? If so the Imp estate, Gillie utility vehicle and Asp sports car are all exceedingly rare. There are single examples of each surviving.
    There was the Hillman Sonic/Stiletto – a convertible model for the Australian market. Less than 10 built because they were handmade and too expensive to sell in volume. There’s one known survivor.
    http://www.imps4ever.info/family/sonic.jpg
    Probably the most desirable rare one would be the Hillman Rally Imp/Singer Rally Chamois. I’m not aware of any records of how many were built and there are no confirmed survivors as far as I know. To get around taxation you had to buy a regular Imp or Chamois then take it back to the Rootes skunkworks to have it turned into a Rally.
    https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/a~YAAOSw1cNZ5fQ7/s-l300.jpg

    1. How about the Australian GT model, they built something like 800 of those.
      Does the Asp still exist?

      1. Yes indeed, there is a surviving Asp. Bizarrely it resides on the island of Tenerife.
        It was bought by the Fraser race team when Chrysler canned the project (along with just about all the interesting stuff Rootes had been working on). Alan Fraser had plans to put it into production himself but that never came to anything.
        Chrysler also cut off support for his racing activities so he packed everything up and moved the team to Tenerife to compete there as a privateer. The Asp went with him and was eventually sold to a local. It’s still in use there today.
        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d3c95fac927d2664cb96cffdb30cc40d8a60447fbbd56440cfe6cd2dc5a734e7.jpg

        1. Thanks. As soon as I saw the word ‘bizarrely’ I knew where it was going to be!
          Another rarity would be the Zagato Zimp; they built 3 and I have been lucky to see one (9 years ago)

      1. When looking for a project car, I flirted with Imps, and didn’t byte on the rusty one I’ve actually looked at. I’m naive, but what if I had decided to buy it and use the rust as an opportunity to do a (rough, wobbly) hommage?

  11. I have seen that “el camino” MB in southern Chile. Since that area was colonized since the mid 1850’s directly from Germany, rather than by locals, it’s not strange to see a lot of well conserved German cars, G-wagons, tractors, and more. But that pickup was the rarest. I thought at the time that it was a locally done mod.

  12. My Falcon Outback ute is one of about 600 built with the dual fuel tanks, bull bar, raised suspension, hydratrak diff, etc. About the same number as the XH Series 2 XR8 (612). The rarest version though would be the limited edition Tradesman version of the panelvan which had 160 built in two batches in Series 1 & 2.
    The previous XG model Outback had only 76 built because it was only introduced towards the end of production.

  13. I think I had the rarest version of one car, Alfa Romeo 159, the TI (Turismo Internazionale) version, steering wheel in Poltrona Frau leather, Brembo brakes, brushed alu pieces inside etc. But it was crap car, mainly because 2,4 L 5-cyl diesel boat anchor of GM origin was so heavy it killed any enjoyment gearbox shared with BMW i8, Fords and Volvos and otherwise oh so good looking car could offer.

  14. I’m not sure about any rare versions of my recent Purchase 2012 Focus other than the RS, but I can tell you from my car search it was rare to find a Hatchback with a 5spd manual and not the dreaded DCT in my area. Luckily I was able to find one

  15. So my car is the Gen 4 Prius.
    The rarest variant is this, of which two exist:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5e10f255396736d1ec4e0e566f3ee8324ccf3a4836fdcff88f6d49f503b679a2.jpg
    However, that’s literally something that a privateer team put together in basically a garage, using a chassis they designed in 2009 for a Corolla, some hand-me-down parts from five year old Lexus GT500 cars, a motor and inverter from a Camry Hybrid, and a supercapacitor bank rumored to be leftover from the TS030 or TS040. (Originally the second car ran an Aqua (Prius c)’s large motor and inverter, and a Li-ion battery from something else.)
    As far as production variants… there’s not that many variants. I’m going to guess the Japan-only E-Four model (which adds a 5.3 kW rear motor – basically enough to get you unstuck in winter, and nothing else)?

    1. I recall the first time I saw the 4th-gen Prius in person, at the Detroit Auto Show. I looked it over, then sat in the passenger seat, next to some 20-something guy in the driver’s. I exhaled audibly with a lengthy “Wow”. The young guy next to me said “I know, right? This is awesome.” I looked at him in disbelief and said “Seriously? This is heinous.” Generation gaps are real.

      1. My initial reaction to it was, “wow, that’s ugly… but hey, at least they’re trying”.
        It… grew on me.
        The analogy I like to use (I might’ve stolen it from somewhere?) is basically… this is what happens if you take 1950s Citroën designers, lock them in a room for a year with only anime and crystal meth, and then make them design a car. Think of it that way, and it starts to work.

        1. Hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and all that. I genuinely like some cars that most others find unbearably ugly or awkward, and I’m ok with that. Screw ’em. Which is exactly why you should ignore my comments, embrace your heinous Prius, and enjoy it.

  16. I’m thinking that my wife’s base 2015 Accord Hybrid is fairly rare, at least among 2015 Accords. The hybrid wasn’t too popular and most were EX-L or Touring trims. Still, not really rare.
    Our Prius is the kinda uncommon Touring model. Longer spoiler, 16″ wheels instead of the 15″ and different rear shocks. Drives exactly the same and looks almost identical to the standard model. Also not exactly rare.
    The RSX being a Type S makes it less common but not rare.
    Only one in ten 1960 Thunderbirds were convertibles like mine, but that’s still about 10,000 cars. The rarest Thunderbird ever is the 1960 coupe with the Golde sunroof and the 430 V8. Only 377 were made.

    1. I considered buying one of those last month! I’d like to find a smallish manual pickup that could also haul the kids if needed, and I miss my old Ranger.

  17. The last Brazilan Chevrolet Vectra had a last edition when it was about to be replaced by the Cruze, but the rarer version was the top of the line Elite with 16 inch wheels, less than 500 were made and was available only in the fist model year. All of these 16 inch cars came without the optional sunroof. Most of the Vectra Elite came with 17 inch wheels that made the ride more harsh, the 16 inch had a better balance between handling and comfort.
    The Vectra Collection (it’s last edition) had 2000 units, all in this exclusive Lotus Green paint, fully loaded and with blacked out headlights
    https://img.olx.com.br/images/16/161804025874045.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-n1qRESw4u5I/Td0p_vyjYeI/AAAAAAAAP6s/pBR7xF-MaRg/s1600/vectrera1.jpg

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