Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 2nd July 2018

Cars come with a wide range of accessories, with one of the most iconic being the racing stripe. Originally used for race cars, the stripe was adopted for road cars as well. The mentality of ‘going faster’ had a lot to do with the implementation of stripes, and though there’s no evidence to suggest they made any difference, stripes certainly provided a psychological affect. We’re looking into the history of the racing stripe to see where it came from and how it’s evolved through the years.

Racing origins

The first stripes appeared in 1951 on the race cars of Briggs Cunningham. He painted a pair of blue lines down the middle of his 1951 C-2R Le Mans motor. This started a trend for other Cunningham race cars, as they became instantly recognisable with the stripes. While Cunningham innovated, designer Peter Brock looked to transfer the stripes to the road.

Brock worked on the Shelby Mustang GT350 and was tasked with creating a competition look without badges of bespoke decoration. He decided to use stripes that appeared along the side of the car. A lot of dealers chose not to utilise the stripes because they felt it would cause unwanted police attention. Customers could opt to have the stripes painted on for a price in order to achieve the racing look.

Commercial road use

During the 1960s, stripes were adopted more widely, with cars like the Renault 8 Gordini having them fitted as standard. In the UK, stripes could be placed on a car by an aftermarket company if they didn’t come as an mainstream option. An early example was the Ford Lotus Cortina, which featured a green stripe across the side. The car had a ‘less is more’ kind of appearance, emphasising the stripe as a key design element. This inspired other cars like the Avenger Tiger.

The Avenger Tiger had one of the most dynamic designs of the 1970s. With a yellow paint job and black stripe, the two colours worked well together. The stripe merged beautifully into the back of the vehicle, adding to the overall appearance.

In the modern day, stripes make for a good optional extra. They look particularly good on cars that are linked to motorsports, due to the racing heritage.

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