Livery Hunting At The Festival Of Speed
The Colours Of Racing

The Goodwood Festival of Speed boasts vehicular variety like few other annual gatherings.

One of the great things about this is that you get to see different cars from completely different genres of motorsport, all in the same place at the same time, sitting side by side.


It’s then that you start to see clear trends in the changing colours of motorsport. It’s also the perfect chance to go livery hunting.


What do you think determines whether a racing livery will withstand the test of time? Is it down to the importance of a particular driver, vehicle or team within that era?


Could it be a measure of successes in motorsport?


Or sometimes maybe liveries tend to stick in our minds because they’re long-standing, or even different or controversial. The teal and blue of Falken is a good example – no matter the discipline, you instantly know which tyres the car is running just because of the colours.


It could just be down to personal preference and good ol’ design aesthetics. Some designs just work, whilst others are easily forgotten, or at least we’d rather they were.


Some are so iconic, that you only have to see a portion of the car, or a passing glimpse at speed, to know exactly what you’re looking at.


The real classics can be identified by colour alone – the orange and blue of Gulf, the white and blue of Rothmans, the gold and black of John Player Special, or the red and blue stripes of Martini.


I guess that alone is the measure of a good livery.


You can trace a clear timeline through racing liveries over the years. In the early days of racing, long before motorsport was colourful and sponsorship-driven, race events were considerably less vibrant that they are today.


Most wore a solid body colour and a large entry number on the front, back and sides so as to make the cars easily identifiable from afar.


Later in time, national colours were introduced to some racing series, with the car’s body colour corresponding to the owner’s nationality. While certain countries had colours representative of their flags, others were unrelated to their ensign.

Italy chose red, or Rosso Corsa to be precise. Germany was white, and then later silver thanks to Auto Union’s Silver Arrows dominance. France chose blue and the United Kingdom went with British Racing Green, hence the name.


These national colours have stuck for many racing teams even today. Ferrari’s F1 cars are still Rosso Corsa, Mercedes’ DTM beasts were, more often than not, silver. British Racing Green, or shades thereof, are officially the only colour you’re allows to race an Aston Martin or a Jaguar in, if you have any taste.


As time went on, and motor racing began to catch the imagination of brands and advertisers, liveries inevitably swung towards representing those who offered the most lucrative financial reinforcement.


Now smoking definitely isn’t cool, but the era of cigarette brand advertising undoubtedly gave use some of the coolest racing liveries of all time – Rothmans, JPS, Marlboro, Camel, and so on.


These sponsorships also brought with them buckets of cash for race teams, which allowed for greater progression in racing technology, better facilities and better drivers. Maybe it’s the nostalgia talking, but arguably racing as a whole never looked so good, and hasn’t since either.

Although, pick any one era of motorsport and there are usually a few stand-out gems that you can single out. Even today, brands are arguably more design-conscious and marketing-savvy than ever, and in the visual world we live in, everyone’s fighting for our eyes’ attention.


I’m curious to find out whether there are any modern liveries that we’ll look back on fondly in 40 years’ time. Will Bentley’s green and white Union Jack design be a classic?


Or how about the luminous accents of Aston Martin Racing – will they withstand the test of time?


I’m a huge fan of this simple but effective tricolour Porsche livery. In fact, I’d happily rock this on my make-believe GT3 RS road car.


Is it down to new generation motorsports to carry the flag for exciting motorsport liveries? As much as you might love or hate drifting, there’s no denying the creativity in the colours and designs used.


Is it wrong that a part of me wouldn’t mind a proper return to the old days of livery-free race cars? You can’t argue that it doesn’t look great here.

What do you think? Which are your favourite liveries of all time and do you think we’re living in the presence of any future classics? Let us know in the comments.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters
Facebook: Jordan Butters Photography

Cutting Room Floor


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I would love to go to this


Autobacs JGTC Livery. Those NSX's were sweet...


Epson chrome is iconic as well!


Castrol Toyotas are also pretty memorable!


Personally I believe that banning the tabaco products from being able to advertise they're products in any form of motorsport or even period. Its the single most stupid double standar Horse$÷+# ever made. They band the cigarettes companys and run campaigns worldwide telling us is bad wish we know it is, that we will have cancer and bla bla bla...but they allow the alcohol companys for example and no one bothers ohh because they put in small letters drink responsibly. Are you kidding me? We are supposed to accept that alchohol that is as bad for the health as cigarettes is ok and acceptable specially in motorsports but smoking is bad.

As bad as cigarettes are, the development the teams no matter the discipline where able to achieve by that era thanks to that sponsorship was simply outstanding. Development that pass to the cars and bikes we drive today. So thanks cigarettes. This double standard drives me insane. TV does the same double morality. Gruesome violence, blood, killing is ok. But nudity of our human body is wrong and needs to be blur, just like curse words needs to be mute.


Everyone knows the health risks of both drinking and smoking. We don't need government to tell us we can't make our own decisions.

Jay Soh Tsu Chung

My same exact thoughts man! I would rather see tobacco advertising than alcohol. Shouldn't we stop promoting "drink and drive"?


What's up with that Manta covered with American flag?

I thought Mantas were German


That's a famous thundersaloons car from the late '80s named, unsurprisingly, "Stars & Stripes.". Thundersaloons was mostly V8 racing, and in period this car ran a very American 6.7L Pontiac V8 (which you couldn't get in any car in the UK at the time), now it's a Chevy V8 instead but the principle remains the same


Because it has a v8 in it? If it's the same car, it ran in the Thundersaloons Championship in the 80s


It's always the liveries related to food and beverage (including cigarettes) that will stick in the majority of people mind since it will target all the audience. Even the youngest kid, the wife, or even neighbors and relatives passing by for a visit will recognize Marlboro, Rothmans,Pepsi, Coca Cola, Martini, Bud Light,... but few will know Brembo, Shell, Mobil, Sunco, Billstein,HKS,....
Even these days anyone can notice RedBull and Monster for example.

Joachim Taverne

Thanks to Gran Turismo series to make discover those to more people :). But indeed they are still far less known than the cigarettes/ alcohol ones.


The first one i see in my mind.. The Porsche 917 Gulf light blue body paint. Why? Maybe it's because I like Porsche, or it is such an eye spotting juxtaposition of extremely aggressive machine and calming light blue livery it carries.


You also can't forget the bright yellow liveries of the Corvettes!




That D2 is the funniest, because originaly it's the logo of a phone company, and later somebody started to use the exact same logo for their tuning parts.

Joachim Taverne

If I had to pick one, it will be the castrol on toyotas. Next will be «BRE» on old datsun.Beside those two, the jgtc liveries are quite appealing to me :Renowm Mazda, calsonic skyline, penzoil skyline ,etc... (thanks to Gran Turismo 2 to make me discover it a few years ago ^^).


That black RS200 is positively menacing. As for my personal favorite liveries, I love the first McRae 4-door Impreza 555 blue and yellow scheme. Also pretty much any of the Porsche 935 Turbo variants. And of course all the JGTC beauties I came to know and love via Gran Turismo!


Ross Petty's S15 has the best livery ever. I also love the BMW M stripes, and M&R never goes out of style.


Nice set of pictures, the only thing i miss wenn we speak about liverys would be a BMW Art Car .


My personal favorite was John Player Special. Nothing like the black and gold on a Lotus F1 car.


Liveries are the best! My JTCC inspired Civic EG.


that is sick. Reminds me of the black and red Advan cars.


Language Stratosphere in Al Italia colours. GT40 in Gulf blue & orange.
Ferrari F1 cars in Marlboro livery.
3 stone dead classics


No Gulf, no care.

Jk, great coverage continues from Goodwood

Jordan Butters

Did you miss the Gulf McLaren F1?!


Yup, sure did


Obviously as a major Subaru fan I'm partial to the 555 Blue/yellow liveries but I'm surprised nobody mentioned another great... Richard Petty's light blue 43 Mopars, such a great instantly recognizable livery to Americans and even beyond. Everyone loves the Marlboro scheme but the Camel tobacco cars are often forgotten, though I enjoy that livery possibly even more than the red and white marb cars


BUTTERS!! nice coverage! I love the falken tire livery. it has to be one of my favorite ones of all time.
Which livery is your favorite Butters?


Takata Dome JGTC NSX and Spoon Sports yellow/blue are two iconic liveries that come to mind!


The reason Germany went from white to silver with their Auto Unions was weight...or lack thereof. In typical Teutonic fashion, the engineers realized they could save a few kilos by stripping the white paint off the car and just run it in bare metal. Of course the cars dominated and became known as Silver Arrows. That is how Germany's racing livery came to be silver...

Jordan Butters

This is true, apparently. Also it was reportedly an unplanned trackside repair that started the whole idea.

Matthew Everingham

My two cents: Gulf, Martini and Marlboro are probably my three favorites of all time. I'd love to see them all applied to some current models. Falken tyres is probably the most likely modern livery to stand the test of time.


dont forget the Renown colours speak themself

Jordan Butters

Great taste Matthew – and yes, the Renown livery is another favourite of mine.


energy drinks are modern days cigarette companies...redbull and monster livery will be last forever


As far as more recent F1 liveries, I'm still a fan of the gold, black and red of Lotus.

Chris Colouryum

Lob on alert.

Chris Colouryum

Do you have any more pics of the Carlton?


This article brings me the memories of this year FoS. Which happened to be my first after 2 years worth of saving!.

I personally love the Manta "Star and Stripes" that is featured in the main photo. The fact the car had nothing to do with USA beside the Pontiac engine and Opel owned by GM. Built for Thundersaloon series it fought the Carlton TS6000 that also appear in FoS next to it in paddock. It's now run with Chevrolet engine by Tetley father-son. Lovely bloke.

What interest me is that the word "MALAYSIA" in gold letters in the rear bumper. Hang on... German cars, with an American engine and livery, running in British Championship with Malaysia written in the back? It turns out this particular car were invited in 1991 Johor Race. Sadly I didn't ask Tetley more about it. But they told me the Sultan of Johor himself invite the car and the driver to Johor to drive for him! Wow the perks of being a royalty I guess.

I'm impartial with this. I like the car story more than its livery. But come on! Have you seen more grim Manta than Gr. B or Kissling Motorsport Manta.


For me, the liveries that really standout are those that best use the natural shape and flow of the bodywork. Second to that are colors that are perhaps less common, or used in a creative way. The Martini & Rossi livery has been iconic for decades, perhaps based on how the colors flow over each vehicle and bring life to the design. The United Colors of Bennetton is another standout, for me in the bold use of color.


Those DTM cars still look incredible.


"British Racing Green, or shades thereof, are officially the only colour you’re allows to race an Aston Martin or a Jaguar in"

Sorry but the blue Ecurie Ecosse Jaguars disprove this point.

Another good tobacco livery was the Gold Leaf one


blue paint and gold wheels = best livery


I really dig those classics you mentioned; JPC, Gulf, Martini. The stories behind some of them are great too. The 787B livery based on a sock, put on a car and now you can buy the socks again.


The jagermeister cars and rothmans escorts will always be classics


I've woken up many times from a dead sleep with my heart racing just dreaming about possibly being able to drive a Martini liveried car. Oh, so so beautiful.


I think Ken Block has some of the best contemporary liveries. My favourite has to be the V1 Hoonicorn, that was great as it played with different finishes - didn't look too bussy but not too plain at the same time.


The problem with copying those liveries is that, last year, there was a bunch of lawsuits being filed against private owners who used company names, logos and colors for their cars.
They were filed by the companies, over forbidden use of the companies trademarks.