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 Britain Holland Orange white Hungary Body, front: white black Body, rear: green Hood: red Irish Free Green with horizontal white State band of orange around body Italy Red white Luxem- Pearl gray white on red burg Mexico Gold white on black Monaco White with red hori- black on white zontal band around body 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 part:blue-upper:yellow Three cross bands of blue on top of hood Switzer- Hood: white black land Body and underframe: red 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 Stripe:green