7 Unholy Pairings Of Cars & Couture

April 27, 2012
Ad for 1972 Levi's AMC Gremlin

Ad for 1972 Levi's AMC Gremlin

If you're young enough to believe that the world has always been full of internets and Kardashians, it may surprise you to learn that way back in a mystical time known as The 70s, there was a special-edition Lincoln Continental gussied up by designer Bill Blass.

Impressive, we know. But it gets better: the Lincoln Continental Mark V actually came in four special editions by Bill Blass, Cartier, Givenchy, and Pucci. Unlike the humdrum, showroom versions of the Mark V, these pimped out rides came with special touches like tinted vinyl roofs and designer logos on the opera windows.

(This of course, was when badass luxury cars had opera windows. Presumably because badass plutocrats really dig opera.)

And so, in a moment of wistful nostalgia, we decided we'd look back at some of the best and the worst of the special editions dreamed up by designers.

Unfortunately, we hit a snag: almost all of these cars fall into the "worst" category. So instead, we'll be taking you on a quick tour of seven custom rides, ranging from the "not-entirely-awful" to "kill it before it reaches the children". Buckle up.

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Levi's AMC Gremlin
The 70s were the high point for automaker/fashion mashups. That's when logos like Ralph Lauren's polo pony took the nation by storm, and the idea of using designer labels as status symbols became Fashion Priority #1.

In this brave, new world swarming with tiny alligators, there were bound to be some losers. Thankfully, the Gremlin wasn't one of them. Well, not so much.

At the time, people were worried about energy shortages, and Jimmy Carter was encouraging everyone to lay off the heaters and put on sweaters. The Gremlin was an economy car meant to allay the public's fear of the gas crunch -- to get people from Point A to Point B using a little less fuel. And it came with a full year's warranty. 

As you can see from the ad above, the special-edition Gremlin featured demin-esque upholstery (just like blue jeans!), signature orange stitching, and even a bright Levi's tag in front of both doors. Sweet.

Not surprisingly, the Levi's edition sold fairly well because it was a solid match-up of middle-class affordability and middle-class style.


Neiman Marcus Chevrolet Camaro Convertible
As successful as the Levi's Gremlin was, it can't hold a candle to the sales record boasted by the Neiman Marcus Chevy Camaro: the 2011 edition sold out in about three minutes. Of course, there were only 100 of the Camaros up for sale, versus thousands of the Gremlin, but still: three minutes is dang impressive. 

So why didn't the Camaro make it to the top of our not-so-terrible list? After all, it's got the revamped Camaro's sexy, retro looks.

The short answer is because of that paint job, which looks a little like a dried scab. Also because it's a convertible, and we're purists at heart. And most importantly, some of us really like Gremlins.

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Bugatti Veyron Fbg par Hermès
In the world of luxury and exotic cars, it's hard to get more exclusive than the Bugatti Veyron. So naturally, when Bugatti wanted to up the ante on its high-octane ride, it sought help from a high-end fashion house: Hermès.

There are other, more exclusive houses -- Balenciaga comes to mind -- but Hermès is especially known for one thing in particular that luxury cars can't do without: leather.

It's a looker, to be sure. But as the Wall Street Journal reporter quite rightly asks in this video, why does a $1.7 million car need a deluxe edition? For that kind of money, we expect the thing to arrive with top-quality leather and a Hermès employee to strap us in every night, then tuck in our blanket made of promissory notes. And a bigger trunk would be nice, too: the one on this special edition is so small, we doubt it could fit a Birkin bag.

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Range Rover Evoque Special Edition With Victoria Beckham
At less than a week old, this is the most recent fashion pairing we've seen, and already we're dubious. Not because it's being shilled by Posh Spice, and not for a lack of luxury bells and whistles.

No, we're alarmed to hear that the thing comes with a four-piece set of handmade luggage wrapped in leather, which we fear might be made from the skins of other Spice Girls.

Seriously, has anyone seen Sporty Spice lately?



Harley Davidson Ford F-150

Look, we have nothing against Harley Davidson (thought we have our doubts about its credibility as a fashion house).

Nor do we have any beef with the F-150. If you're in the market for a truck, by all means, put it on your short list.

No, we dinged this special edition because the F-150 owners in our families have a tendency to... Well, let's just say that they do plenty of driving on two wheels as it is. They don't need any more encouragement. 

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Maserati GranTurismo Convertible Fendi
Is this ride exclusive? Sure.

Is it expensive? You bet'cha.

It is luxurious? Meh.

You see, Fendi isn't a fashion line for wallflowers. It's mad, bad, and dangerous to know. Little Italian ladies in Fendi's ateliers spend long days stitching premium leather by hand and harvesting fur from animals previously thought to be extinct.

So you'd expect Fendi's mashup with Maserati to be a little brash, like the love child of Silvio Berlusconi and Simon Cowell. (Not that they're dating. Well, not that know of. Why? What have you heard?)

And yet, the Fendi GranTurismo Convertible is, well, dull. Premium leather? Okay, we can get that anywhere. Wood trim? We're falling asleep over here. Gray paint? Strike three. Basta.

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Fiat 500 by Gucci
Sorry, Italy, but you've landed two in a row. By our estimation the Fiat 500 by Gucci may be the worst fashion pairing in recent memory. (Even worse than the Hermès Smart fortwo, which somehow fell off our radar.)

Why is the Fiat 500 by Gucci so bad? Let us count the ways:

1. Gucci is luxury. Fiat is not.

2. Gucci is vulgar but not common. Fiat is common but not vulgar.

3. Gucci is sleek and overtly sexy. Fiat is cute and bubbly, no matter how hard it tries. Fiat is the Miley Cyrus bridesmaid to Jennifer Lopez, professional bridezilla. (Which is ironic because of J-Lo's relationship with Fiat, but work with us here.)

About the only thing we can say about the Fiat 500 by Gucci is that it's the perfect size for Gucci models. Which isn't enough to save it from the bottom spot on our list.

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Did we miss one? Surely we did. Drop us a line or leave a note in the comments below.

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