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Luscious liveries – part 2

Submitted by on April 29, 2012

Back in 2009, we revealed our 10 favourite motorsport liveries – those racing-car paint jobs or corporate identities that really floated our boats in period and continue to stir those retro juices. And, unsurprisingly, the list generated some hearty debate. Our selection drew a (mostly) favourable reaction, with enough ‘what about…?’ comments to inspire a follow-up. So, after another trawl through the visual memory banks, here it is.


BASF – The red-and-white swirls of the German chemical firm, best known for its chromdioxid tape cassettes, looked great on the BMW M1 supercar of the early 80s. I’ve still got a poster of the Hans Stuck/Hans Heyer car from the 1981 Silverstone 6 Hours!


L&M – The Liggett & Myers tobacco brand shot to prominence (in a motorsport context, at least) when it adorned the Lola T260 Can-Am monster raced by Jackie Stewart in 1971. Then L&M appeared on George Follmer’s ’72 title-winning Porsche 917-10. Perfect.

can am lola

Marlboro – Surely the most loyal, ubiquitous and recognisable sponsorship colours in racing history? That familiar red-and-white livery worked for BRM and McLaren in Formula 1, Penske in IndyCar, Porsche in Group C and plenty of other disciplines.

Niki Lauda

Miller – The American beer brand was a big hit in the commercial colussus that is NASCAR. Chevys and Fords with the red-and-white  or black-and-yellow Genuine Draft colours worked best. Also looked mega in white-and-gold on Porsche Group C and IMSA racers.

 Porsche 962

Repsol – The Spanish oil giant has been a long-standing supporter of bike racing, witness its long association with Honda’s MotoGP effort and KTM’s Dakar programme. The ‘sunny’ colours also worked a treat on Carlos Sainz’s 1993 Lancia Delta Integrale WRC machine.

 Mick Doohan

Silk Cut – Synonymous with the Tom Walkinshaw Group C Jaguars of the late 80s, which is reason enough to include it. Never has the colour purple been so acceptable on the flanks of a racing car – especially when the Big Cat won at Le Mans in 1988 and 1990.


UOP – One of the most evocative images of my childhood is ‘Welsh Wizard’ Tom Pryce on opposite lock in one of the United Oil Products-sponsored Shadows during the mid-1970s. Striking black-and-white colours, with a simple, bold logo: marvellously memorable.


Yardley – Cosmetics brand with distinctive black-red-and-brown ‘Y’ logo. Think Pedro Rodriguez, Peter Gethin and Jo Siffert in race-winning BRMs in 1970-71 and you get the picture. Then think Denny Hulme and Peter Revson in McLaren M23s and have a lie down!


555 – British American Tobacco brand that, with the Prodrive Subaru squad, formed one of the greatest tie-ups in world rally history. You can’t fail to be stirred by the image of Colin McRae yumping a 555 Impreza.


7UP – One year with Jordan in F1 in 1991, on the sublimely pretty 191, was enough. It’s a partnership that ranks close to the top of most fans’ ‘best-looking F1 cars of all time’ list. The still-handsome 192 of 1992 just wasn’t as striking with Sasol oil backing.


It’s not just sponsorship branding that makes for a great looking racing car, of course. Sometimes the traditional colours of a manufacturer or race team are enough. Here are 10 that prove the theory:

Audi – The black-grey-red-white corporate colours of the German powerhouse looked ace on Quattro WRC and IMSA cars in the 1980s. And still do.

BMW – The Munich firm’s motorsport stripes do it for most fans, whether it’s on CSL and M3 touring cars or March F2 racers. Those legendary stripes still look fantastic – check the 2012-spec M3 DTM.


Alan Mann – The great team owner, who passed away recently, ran his cars in two-tone red and gold. His loyalty to Ford made for superb Escorts and Cortinas, and the gorgeous F3L prototype.

Alan Mann Escort

Matra – The blue-and-white colours preferred by French firm Mechanique Aviation Traction, allied to its V12-powered F1 and sports-racers, made the late 1960s and early 1970s a better place.


McLaren – The papaya orange made famous by Bruce McLaren and his eponymous racers. Think M8 Can-Am brutes, as well as grand prix and Indycars: no single-colour association is more memorable.

 McLaren M6

Peugeot – The Group B 205 T16s and Le Mans-winning 905 Group C prototypes both sported the French marque’s red-blue-yellow sporting arm identity and both looked all the better for it.


Porsche – Probably the wackiest of liveries chosen by Porsche was its ‘Pink Pig’ colours on the 917 Le Mans car of 1971. Weird, but wonderful – and the porkiest of Porkers.


Renault – The F1 cars of the late 70s and early 80s in the Regie’s black-yellow-white paint job were magnificent. Or is it magnifique? Ditto the 1978 Le Mans-winning A442 and 5 Turbo rally cars.


Rob Walker – Gentleman racer-turned team entrant whose cars were painted in dark blue and driven to much success by Stirling Moss. Lotus 18 at Monaco or Ferrari GTO at Goodwood, anyone?

 Moss_Lotus 18

Wolf – Who can forget the black-and-gold gorgeousness of Austrian-born Canadian oil-drilling magnate Walter Wolf’s F1 racer that won on its debut in 1977 with Jody Scheckter?

Let us know if there are any we’ve forgotten (again) and, who knows, there may be a ‘luscious liveries, part 3’…

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