- ph: Gulf

Motorsport Stories & Iconic Liveries: Tag-Heuer Gulf_

5w ago


Gulf is one of the few brands to be easily recognizable by its colours alone. If you're into cars, when you see blue and orange, you think Gulf. It is an immediate connection that stays, even when Gulf isn't even there or in a completely different environment. Even today, considering that Gulf officially ceased operations in 1985.

Gulf Oil was founded in Texas in 1901 and was part of what is known as the Seven Sisters oil companies. More to the point, relevant for us, Gulf was an international powerhouse in motorsport.

In the 1920s, Gulf changed its corporate colours to dark blue and orange, a combination that later evolved in 1967, when the colours were changed again, only slightly, to light blue and orange and they've never changed again since. The company pioneered consumer-oriented marketing with initiatives that were way ahead of their time.

In the late 1930s, Gulf commissioned two planes that would fly across Europe showing the logo on their fuselage. The idea sounds obvious enough today but it was incredibly avant-garde back then. In 1968, during the US presidential elections, Gulf began distributing pins to the people shaped like a Democratic donkey or like a Republican elephant. Gulf was the first company to introduce gifts at gas stations and the first to distribute free brand stickers.

In the sixties, Gulf and TAG Heuer were heavily invested in motorsport and their partnership began brewing. Gulf was busy with the WEC (World Endurance Championship) and Jack Heuer launched in 1963, named after the eponymous race in Mexico. The pinnacle of their partnership spawned one of the most iconic images of all time when, in 1971, Steve McQueen was photographed spotting a Tag Heuer Monaco in the film "Le Mans" while driving a Porsche 917 with the Gulf livery.

ph: TAG Heuer

Both brands have been a costant presence in Formula 1, too. Gulf teamed up with McLaren in the 70s and, as we know, TAG Heuer is still in F1 today, with Aston Martin Red Bull F1 team.

You know how it goes, the pub debate over the best livery in car racing could jeopardize friendships, but you'll have to concede: the TAG Heuer-Gulf livery is definitely a contender.