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5 Anniversary Edition Performance Cars That Were Actually Fast And Cool

If there's one constant in the automotive universe, it's the existence of disappointing anniversary edition performance cars. Often phoned in by the marketing department, these celebratory models almost always avoid adding any extra muscle or excitement in favor of a unique color and a sticker package, and maybe if you're lucky, a badge on the dashboard.

That being said, there are a few notable exceptions that pushed past corporate inertia to give gearheads a fun, fast, and ultimately worthwhile reason to pay a little extra at ordering time. With their focus on boosting more than just the bottom line, these are the best anniversary cars (and trucks) ever built.

1997 Chevrolet Camaro 30th Anniversary LT4 SS

The fourth-generation Chevrolet Camaro was kicking sand in the face of the Mustang throughout the 1990s thanks to the use of the mighty 5.7-liter LT1 V8 engine in the potent Z28 model. Five years after the new Camaro's debut, Chevrolet would up the ante even farther with the 30th Anniversary LT4 SS.

Chevrolet Camaro LT4 SS

What made this special version of the Camaro unique, aside form its white paint and orange double-stripes, was the installation of the LT4 engine. Rated at 330 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque, the engine offered a substantial boost over the 285 horsepower found in the standard Z28 models. Also displacing 5.7 liters, the motor was borrowed from the Corvette Grand Sport and then sent to SLP Engineering, which balanced, blueprinted, and dyno-tuned each of the 106 LT4s that were built.

Chevrolet Camaro LT4 SS Manual

In addition to its bespoke engine (which made exceptionally quick on the street, reaching 60-mph in just 4.9 seconds), the 30th Anniversary LT4 SS came with uprated Bilstein shocks, a limited-slip differential, a lighter driveshaft, a louder exhaust, and the option of an even more hardcore suspension package.

2015 Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Edition

Ford might have taken longer to build an anniversary edition Mustang that was a match for the Camaro's LT4-powered icon, but it was worth the wait. 2015 saw the creation of the 50th Anniversary Edition Mustang, which started out with the GT coupe and heaped on a generous helping of go-fast goodies.

Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Edition

For starters, the new Mustang represented the first model year for the sixth-generation version of the car, which meant the GT saw its output climb to 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque (versus 420 horses and 390 lb-ft from the year before). The Anniversary Edition also included the Performance Pack as standard equipment, which meant larger six-piston Brembo brakes up front, sticky race rubber, and larger 19-inch wheels.

Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Edition

Cosmetically, the car featured louvers on the rear quarter windows, the choice of either Wimbledon White or Kona Blue as 50th Anniversary-only colors, a host of interior upgrades, and of course special badges and logos throughout the car. 1,964 examples were built to reflect the original Mustang's first year of production.

2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 60th Anniversary Edition

The 2013 Chevrolet Corvette 427 60th Anniversary Edition is one of the wilder celebrations ever produced by General Motors. Tackling the performance parts bin with gusto, Chevrolet took the convertible version of the C6 Corvette and transplanted into it the Z06 track star's 7.0-liter beating heart (giving it 427 cubic inches of displacement). It also included much of the carbon fiber body enhancements sported by the Z06.

Chevrolet Corvette 427 60th Anniversary Edition in white

A drop-top Corvette with 505 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque is a lot of fun from any perspective, and despite keeping its steel chassis (rather than the Z06's aluminum design), the car tipped the scales only 150 lbs or so heavier than the high performance coupe.

Chevrolet Corvette 427 60th Anniversary Edition in red

With a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds and a magnetically-controlled adjustable suspension, the 427 60th Anniversary Edition Corvette was by far the best birthday celebration version of Chevrolet's classic sports car ever produced.

2015 Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary

How do you improve on one of the lightest, most responsive sports cars in the history of motoring? By cutting even more weight like a boxer about the step onto the scales for a title fight bout. The 2015 Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary edition somehow managed to slice an extra 22 lbs from its already svelte package in addition to snagging the mightier supercharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine from the Elise S.

Lotus Elise 20th Anniversary

The end result was a 217 horsepower track toy that could reach 145 mph. With 185 lb-ft of torque in the mix, your could pick from one of four colors to match the envious green of other drivers as they watched you turn in fantastic lap times with a huge grin on your face.

2018 Land Rover Defender 70th Anniversary

One doesn't typically associate the Land Rover Defender off-road SUV with performance, but that didn't stop the British 4x4 brand from building a potent 70th Anniversary edition of the Defender that showcased the best of British horsepower in a retro-themed package.

Land Rover Defender 70th Anniversary

Each 70th Anniversary Defender came with a 5.0-liter V8 good for roughly 400 horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque, which was more than enough grunt to accelerate the hefty truck to 60-mph in just 5.6 seconds. If you were brave enough and held on, you'd eventually max out at 106 mph, which was surely a thrill ride in a steel box that cared little for aerodynamics. The sport-utility vehicle also featured a low-range four-wheel drive system that could shift 90 percent of engine torque to either the front or the rear as needed, along with bigger brakes and a bright interior with harness cutouts in the front two Recaro seats.

Looking for performance cars you won’t see in your neighbor's driveway? These alternative muscle machines stand out from the usual suspects.

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