Vintage FIA Colours

National race car colours are the result of a decision reached in the early days of racing. Cars were, and still are, distinguishable by assigned numbers, but further separation (prompted no doubt by nationalistic feelings) was felt desirable. This is why racing cars from Italy are red, the cars from England are green and the cars from Germany are white (or sometimes silver-the result of leaving the aluminum body unpainted). 

A private owner will generally paint his car in the colour(s) of his own country, rather than the manufacturer's. According to the Code Sportif International (C.S.I.) of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (F.I.A.), "The use of distinctive colours of nationality is compulsory when the supplementary regulations of the competition require it. These colours are determined by the nationality of the competitor." So, a Ferrari owned by an Englishman would be painted green, even though it was an Italian car. Thus, it has become a tradition for racing cars to be painted in the colours of the entrant, although they are occasionally seen with minor variations. Mercedes, for ex- ample, honored Englishman Richard Seaman, who was a Mercedes team driver, with a green border around the grille opening of his car. The shrewd Germans had also noted that this would allow quick identification if Seaman and one of the other Mercedes drivers (who would be in identical cars) chanced to pass rapidly by the pits at the same time. Because these colours were assigned during the days when racing cars possessed chassis that were visible beneath the body, many countries have a combination of colours: one for the body, one for the, chassis and sometimes another for some other part, such as the wheels or hood. This presented a problem when streamlining came into fashion and the chassis disappeared from sight. As a consequence, the colour formerly allotted to the chassis is now applied in the form of stripes or other trim over the colour assigned to the body by the CSI of the FIA. 

To further simplify (or complicate) matters, green, the colour assigned to the British Empire, is used as a basis for all cars from England and its possessions. The commonwealth countries use green as a body colour with other colours, at their choice, as stripes. Canada, for example, uses two white stripes 4 in. wide, one on each side of the car's centerline and 6 in. apart. 

British racing green, to dispel some of the arguments, is not any particular shade of green, but Napier green is preferred. Stirling Moss drove a light sea-green BRM in the 1959 French Grand Prix. This was quite contrary to the accepted general opinion of what constitutes "British Racing Green" but was, nevertheless, acceptable. 

The colour applied to a racing car has also had its share of side effects. For many years U.S. drivers would not drive in, or in competition with, cars painted any shade of green; they believed the colour to be unlucky. This has diminished in recent years, especially since the advent of more British international competition.

    COUNTRY         COLOURS OF CAR           NUMBERS
    Argentina       Body: blue               	      red on white
                    Hood: yellow
                    Chassis: black
    Belgium         Body:  yellow            	      black
    Brazil          Body: pale yellow        	      black
                    Chassis and wheels:green
    Bulgaria        Body: green              	      red
                    Hood: white
    Canada          Body: green              	      white
                    Stripes: white
    Chile           Body: red                         half blue-half red
                    Hood: blue                	          or
                    Underframe: white        	      all red on white
    Cuba            Body: yellow             	      white on black
                    Hood: black
    Czecho-         Body: white              	      blue
    slovakia        Hood: blue and white
                    Underframe: red
    Egypt           Pale violet              	      red on white
    Finland         Black                    	      blue on white
    France          Blue                     	      white
    Germany         White                    	      red
    Great           Green                    	      white
    Holland         Orange                   	      white
    Hungary         Body, front: white       	      black
                    Body, rear: green
                    Hood: red
    Irish Free      Green with horizontal    	      white
    State           band of orange around
    Italy           Red                      	      white
    Luxem-          Pearl gray                	      white on red
    Mexico          Gold                     	      white on black
    Monaco          White with red hori-     	      black on white
                    zontal band around
    Poland          Body and hood: white     	      red
                    Underframe: red
    Portugal        Body and hood: red       	      white
                    Underframe: white
    Scotland        Green                    	      white
    South           Body: Gold                        black on white
    Africa          Hood: green
    Spain           Hood: yellow             	      black on yellow
                    Body and chassis: red    	      white on red
    Sweden          Body and hood, lower     	      white
                    Three cross bands of
                    blue on top of hood
    Switzer-        Hood: white              	      black
    land            Body and underframe:
    Thailand        Body and hood:           	      white on blue
                    pale blue with yellow
                    horizontal band around
                    body and hood
                    Wheels: pale yellow
    United          Body and hood: white     	      blue on white
    States          Underframe: blue
    Venezuela       Body:  white