Good product, but a rip-off at its time
The Special Edition of The Need for Speed was released about a year after the original game and brought some improvements and new content. There's neat stuff like two additional tracks, changeable time of day setting and a longer and better-sounding soundtrack, which do add some to the game experience.
The mentioned tracks are Burnt Sienna, a circuit leading through an old gold-rush village, its mines and beneath an impressive waterfall. The other one is called Transtropolis, and has probably the coolest scenery of all the tracks. You race around a futuristic city - the finish line is inside a foundry, there are the docks, the airport, a car parking and an industrial quarter - everything spiced up with sharp turns and big jumps.
The biggest improvements, however, are certainly the following: On one hand, there is now a real network multiplayer mode. Now you can race against up to 5 other players, compared to only one in the original game, where only race duels could be fought. On the other hand, the game's disc also contains a second version of the executables - designed for Windows 95. This sure adds a lot of compatibility to this game, so there is a bigger chance of getting it to run on newer computers, and it allowed for some other features like Force Feedback, DirectPlay and DirectSound support to be added.
The downside, however, was this thing's price. Being released almost 2 years after the original game, selling it for the same price is a shame. It was definitely not meant for owners of the original version, assuming Windows 95 and network support were not the most important things to them (remember, Need for Speed 2 was soon to be released anyway), but I would say that it was still too expensive for new players. They got a great game nonetheless, mind you.
The Bottom Line
So in the end, today that you can probably ignore its original price, this looks like a decent, improved version of the classic racing game. But honestly, I've seen free game patches doing more than this.