Special-edition cars based on movies are certainly A Thing, and some have even become so desirable that there are hopeful hoaxes swirling about their existence, like we saw with the alleged 2018 Mustang Bullitt edition. But for every Bullitt-edition Mustang or 007-themed Aston Martin there are a lot more really lousy movie tie-in cars, and since I love lousy, that’s what I want to show you.
To work, a movie-tie in car edition has to find movie and car combinations that work together to leverage the desirability of both. This isn’t always easy to find, and all too often the results feel forced, and as a result, undesirable. Most of these were miserable failures, even if the movie itself did well.
The Coen Brother’s black-comedy masterpiece features a Cutlass Ciera quite prominently, so you can see why Oldsmobile was interested. The movie takes place in 1987, but Oldsmobile was still making a (somewhat updated) version in 1996, when the movie came out.
The Fargo Edition 1996 Cutlass Ciera was the same tan color as the one featured in the film, but came with a special red interior as a reference to all the blood spilled by Steve Buscemi’s character, Carl Showalter, in the car.
Also included was a DVD of Fargo and a DVD player for your home; 1996 was the first year DVDs were available, so this was a big deal. Most people, though, were happy to stick with their shitty VHS players if it meant not having to drive a tan Cutlass Ciera with a blood-red interior.
The 2002 High Crimes Edition Chrysler Sebring Coupe is especially notable because it violates one of the key criteria for doing a movie tie-in car edition: the car needs to be featured, in some way, in the movie. As far as anyone has been able to tell, no Chrysler Sebrings appeared in the Ashley Judd/Morgan Freeman legal thriller.
The High Crimes Edition consisted of a 2002 Sebring Coupe, the least popular of the Sebring variants, with a High Crimes stripe kit and Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd’s signatures silkscreened on the glovebox door.
It’s unclear if any were sold at all. One is said to exist in Chrysler’s heritage center outside of Detroit, but Chrysler was unwilling to provide us with confirmation.
A Beetle convertible was featured prominently in Woody Allen’s 1977 classic, Annie Hall, and Volkswagen, who was sort of special edition-crazy at the time, was eager to have a cinematic tie-in that fit so well with one of their most loyal demographics, Woody Allen-movie-appreciating large city-dwellers.
The special edition consisted of well-optioned 1977 Super Beetle Convertible with the Woody Allen and Diane Keaton characters from the movie poster on a decal on the rear quarter panel. Also included was a plastic sandwich in the glovebox, a reference to this scene:
Unfortunately for VW, a clerical error sent all 2500 Annie Hall edition Beetles to dealerships in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and the Dakotas, where only 15 were sold.
It’s not clear who was working for Chrysler in the 2001-2002 time period that was responsible for movie tie-in editions, but they were both terrible at their jobs and strangely wonderful, because they managed to get two awful Sebring-related movie tie-in cars to happen. This one, the Freddy Got Fingered Sebring convertible, is deeply weird.
I guess that makes sense, since Freddy Got Fingered was a weird, terrible movie full of Tom Green and child molestation accusations and kidnappings, and umbilical cord antics, but there was a blue Chrysler LeBaron convertible featured in it.
Now, Chrysler wasn’t selling the LeBaron in 2001, but they had the Sebring convertible, and for this special edition they re-badged them as LeBarons with new-old-stock badges. They also were painted a blue close to what was shown in the movie.
When the movie was panned by pretty much everyone, Chrysler pulled advertising for the special edition car, and gave dealers the option of having them re-badged back to Sebrings. No records are available to show how many were actually sold as Freddy Got Fingered-edition cars.
If you’re going to have a special-edition car that ties into a movie, it generally is considered to be a good idea if that movie not just features the car you’re trying to sell, but any cars at all. Also, it’s best if the movie takes place in a time where cars exist. The 2015 bear-maulsplotation movie The Revenant was none of those things, yet Jeep thought it’d be a good idea for a Wrangler tie-in.
The movie did have a strong outdoor-theme, though, and there certainly was plenty of rough terrain, and I’m sure any of the characters in the movie would have loved a machine like a Jeep, but it took place a couple centuries too soon for that.
The Revenant package was mostly a graphics/decal kit that placed an attacking bear on the front doors, and The Revenant name and blood spatter on the rear. A first-aid kit was included, along with a special dash-mounted can of bear repellent.
We’re told these actually sold okay in Alaska.
Oh, crap— I just checked and it looks like I made all these up. Dammit.