In the early years, sports cars were generally a lot less accessible by the masses. With a much smaller market demand, this niche category were purely made for the truly wealthy and capable. Although it may still seem the same today, the global automotive market demand has also grown in multiple folds since the 1960s, which ultimately meant that in order to meet the needs and preferences of the growing market, manufacturers had to develop and make their cars better. There are various reasons why manufacturers build cars in limited production run. But we think that the one that truly relates back to the value of these special cars today boils down to motorsports and racing.


Production-based racing series meant putting mass produced cars on the circuit. These cars would be fully stripped, modified, and converted to compete in various modes like Circuit and Rally championships. As manufacturers got more serious, regulations require that a manufacturer must make their race car for sale to the public in order to be eligible. Although manufacturers are not required to make these cars “numbered”, but back in the day, these cars were numbered because manufacturers had little interest to mass produce these cars. Understanding that the niche enthusiasts market is small, it doesn’t make financial sense for a manufacturer to produce in bulk. Famously of course, series like Group-B Rally is probably one of the most celebrated homologation series as it gave birth to some of the craziest cars that we know today.

Success Celebration

Beyond homologation of course, manufacturers love to celebrate their motorsports success by making special releases of the cars that went racing. The 90s was probably one of the most celebrated decade for motorsports which led to the release of these special limited production cars. Cars like the Evo VI Tommi Mäkinen edition are samples of these manufaktur celebratory model that are targeted for enthusiasts and fans with a piece of history. From as simple as inculcating the race livery on these special edition models to full commemoration with technical specification transfer, these limited releases are the kind that we probably love most.

Of course, beyond just Motorsports, limited production runs are also made to showcase technological advancements or even brand milestones. Every manufacturer has a projected scale for their model releases, in which they will decide over a product’s full lifecycle, how many units will be made. When we consider cars like the first generation Honda NSX that had a lifecycle of 15 years from 1990-2005, about 18,600 units were built and spread across the global market. But within the total production, there will usually be a limited production specials like the Type-R variant in which only 483 units were made in NA1 and only about 150 units in NA2 form. This goes the same to brands like Porsche with their various limited release 911s and others alike. 

But there is also rumours that these limited special runs were also made by manufacturers to clear off excess shells at the factory. Brands under the Volkswagen Audi Group (VAG) umbrella like Lamborghini with the continuous editions of Gallardos back then are a sample. Nevertheless, this is not verified, and only hearsay. 

The Rarity Factor

Limited production specials give manufacturers a chance to charge a little in excess over the standard sticker price. And though today we lust over cars like this, in the early days cars like this weren’t generally celebrated by buyers. Depending on the car, most people would only see it as a way for car makers to charge you a little more for some vinyl and stitching. Not a lot of people bought into the idea and sometimes, these numbered models didn’t even sell well.

Manufacturers pick and choose where their limited run models are sold to. And in our part of the world, Japan has the largest influence with these cars. Japanese Direct Market (JDM) cars that never made it to markets like the US is constantly causing huge spikes in the prices. The USS auto auction floors in Japan are now becoming a huge trade as buyers abroad are constantly eyeing to attain these cars that never made it to their shores. Thanks to this demand, the global market follows and hold the prices of these cars to match the trend which is why we’ve seen some Modern Classic cars that were once relatively attainable have now become collectibles for the wealthy.

We’re quite blessed in Malaysia to have received quite a number of rare cars from the 90s and 2000s. Thanks to open automotive imports from Japan and UK, and the endless number of AP holders there are in Malaysia, the ones before us were able to buy and enjoy cars like the Nissan Skyline BNR34 V-Spec series, the Subaru Impreza S204 and RA-R series, Porsche RS lines, BMW M3 CSL, and the likes of that caliber. What we don’t realise is that other than in big markets like Japan and Britain (where we legally import our cars from), cars like these don’t exactly arrive at their doorsteps. 

Today, it’s a whole different ball game. From the moment even wind of a new limited edition model comes to light, everyone jumps in. The factor of rarity is substantially dependent on the proposition in which the product elevates. Naturally, we always want what we can’t have and that’s exactly the biggest selling point to the prices of these limited production models. Of course, Supercar manufacturers are in a league of their own at this game; but that hasn’t stopped other mass manufacturers to keep serving their market too.

So, does this article make you curious about what are some of the best and undervalued limited production cars we have locally and you should be eyeing for your next purchase? Stay tuned for our next article!

Written By | Qhalis Najmi

Photos By | @rikmunwerks / @meorkickass / @zaksmurf