Greatest Liveries of all Time
With Gulf colours returning to F1, let us take a look at the other iconic liveries from history.
McLaren unveiling their MCL35M with a limited-edition Gulf livery for the Monaco Grand Prix is truly something special. Seeing the iconic baby-blue/orange in F1, it’s easy to get swept away by all the hype. Shame it’s not here to stay, but their current colours have their own racing heritage.
Since Zak Brown’s take over of McLaren in 2016, his enthusiasm for motorsport history and memorabilia is really starting to seep through. Bringing McLaren back from the brink, which had rather lost its way since the Hamilton/Mercedes years. He needed to change the way the team was perceived. Where better to start than where it all began, specifically, Bruce’s 1967 M6A Can-Am and its striking papaya orange livery. They soon went from being a miserable backmarker to being the underdogs we’re all rooting for, fighting for podiums.
Aside from the skill of a driver and the innovative engineering the teams bring, it’s the liveries that make a good race car great. Below is a selection of the most iconic liveries from motorsport history!
Lets start with the company that inspired me to write this in the first place. Gulf, an American oil company that has been involved in motorsports as far back as the 1930s, entering cars into the Indy500. The familiar blue and orange colour combination made its first appearance in 1967, on the Le Mans-winning Ford GT40 and Porsche 917. In the 1970s, they would partner Mclaren in Can-AM, Indy-car and F1. This partnership would prove immensely successful, with seven victories in F1 and 35 victories in Can-Am.
If you're a big fan of WRC, then you're probably a big fan of the Martini Racing colours. Most notably, accompanying Lancia rally cars such as the 037 and the Delta Integrale, in the infamous Group B WRC during the 1980s. As great as this pairing was, Martini Racing goes back a lot further to 1968, with the first logo appearing on the Porsche 910, the famous stripes were yet to appear. It would race at the Targa Florio endurance race in Sicily. In 1971, Martini would join Porsche yet again for Le Mans with the 917, this time featuring their iconic stripes.
Another super successful pairing, this time with the Toyota and Castrol partnership, featuring its crisp white, red and green livery. In 1988 Toyota entered its Celica ST165 in Group A WRC and went on to win the drivers championship with Carlos Sainz in 1992 and the manufacturer’s championship in 1993/1994. The well-known ST205 would debut in 1995 and, in the late 90s Toyota would use the Corolla, which would feature a splash of blue to the Castrol colour scheme. As mentioned in a previous article, the livery accompanied the TOM’s Supra in the JGTC in 1995. More recently Castrol would join Honda for the 24 Hours of Spa Francorchamps, with their NSX GT3 in 2018.
Marlboro joined up with Mclaren in 1974 after they parted ways with Gulf. They used the very recognisable day-glow orange and white colour scheme. Overseeing probably the greatest rivalry in Formula 1 with the likes of Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the McLaren Honda MP4\4 is one of the most dominant F1 cars in history. Debuting in 1988 it would win 15/16 races of the season, the only loss being self-inflicted by Senna. The partnership would come to an end in 1996 after 22 years and would go on to join Ferrari and one of the greatest drivers of all time, Michael Schumacher, in 1997.
There we have it, a selection of companies that provided the world with some of the most famous racing cars in history. I tried to keep Tobacco companies to a minimum, even though their products are awful for you, they do make for the coolest liveries ever! Nearly all of the most successful cars were sponsored by tobacco.
What are your favourite liveries? Let me know in the comments!