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Was red ever officially the color of England?


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#1 dretceterini

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 02:20

according to the 1930s regulations, green was the proper color, but at the turn of the century, many English cars were red. Was this ever "official"?? If so, what were the "official" colors for other countries back than??

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#2 tam999

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 03:39

Stu--

I remember that the British Empire was always shown in red on maps in its heyday, and the British army was well known for its "redcoats". So it's no surprise if "British Racing Red" was the nation's official color in the early days.

Tam

#3 maxie

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 04:39

Why green was eventually chosen then?

#4 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 05:02

Regulated colors were introduced for the first time in 1903 at the fourth Gordon Bennett Race. The regulations were the same as in 1902 but to better differentiate between the competing nations, the cars were for the first time painted in different colors; the British were green, the French light-blue, the American red (with green flourishes) and the German cars were white.

For the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup Race the cars again had to be painted in different colors: the British were green, the French blue, the German white, the Austrian black-yellow, the Italian black, the Belgian yellow and one Swiss car red and yellow. These paint rules remained the same for the last Gordon Bennett Cup Race in 1905.

The regulations for the first Grand Prix by the ACF in 1906 did not stipulate any specific colors. Therefore the Renault was painted red, a color the factory liked. The Kaiserpreis in 1907 was then the next race where regulations insisted that the cars had to be painted in different national colors. They were the same as in the 1907 ACF regulations only adding Austria with black-yellow. The ACF Grand Prix following the German event 18 days later, saw the re-introduction of national colors as used in the Gordon Bennett Cup races, when Italian cars used to be black and had to be now red; USA changed from red only to now red-white; English, green; French, blue; German, white; Belgian, yellow; Swiss, red-yellow.

#5 maxie

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 06:18

Does it mean that green was chosen for no particular reason? I always thought that there must be some historical factors behind it. That is, I would put my money on the Dutch cars being orange in colour.

#6 dretceterini

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 06:21

Hans:

yes, but why were some of the early British cars painted red??

#7 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 07:48

Originally posted by dretceterini
...why were some of the early British cars painted red??

You have to come up with some facts like date and event. Colors were not regulated at international events before 1903 and again at the 1906 Grand Prix. I wrote about it here: http://www.kolumbus....ellman/gpw5.htm

#8 Rob29

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 08:44

Originally posted by maxie
Does it mean that green was chosen for no particular reason? I always thought that there must be some historical factors behind it. That is, I would put my money on the Dutch cars being orange in colour.

The reason usually given for BRG is that the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup was held in Ireland (then part of the UK)Britain was the 'home' team.
Interesting that this summer we celebrate 100 years of BRG. Is anyone comemerating this?
Holland is one of the few countries who's colour has always been associated with it.

#9 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 08:52

Originally posted by Rob29
The reason usually given for BRG is that the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup was held in Ireland (then part of the UK)Britain was the 'home' team.


I've seen that quoted in various books, Rob, but there are also stories about Edge's Napier in 1902, which was definitely green and was allegedly assigned the number 13 by the French organisers to counteract the "unlucky" colour.

Originally posted by Rob29
Interesting that this summer we celebrate 100 years of BRG. Is anyone comemerating this?


Not as such AFAIK, but I believe there's some sort of celebration planned to mark the centenary of the GBT.

#10 Eric McLoughlin

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 13:22

Being Irish I quite like the story that BRG was to commemorate the Gordon Bennett races being held in Ireland. However, I think it was more to do with Napier's personal choice of colour than anything to do with Ireland.

#11 dmj

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 17:05

I am quite sure that Michael Sedgwick states somewhere national colours as early as 1900. And I think he says that red was assigned to British cars back then... Why it was actually changed, I have no idea...

#12 dretceterini

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 20:16

I am 99% certain that some British cars were painted red before 1900 and just after that, but I guess it was not "official". Is anyone aware of there being "official" colors for any event before 1903??

#13 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 20:21

Originally posted by dmj
I am quite sure that Michael Sedgwick states somewhere national colours as early as 1900. And I think he says that red was assigned to British cars back then... Why it was actually changed, I have no idea...

When are all the members of TNF catching on to live up to our higher standard here and bring facts to the table instead of mere conjecture? Tell us who, when and where raced a red British racing car at an international event on the continent. Not in Wales, not in Scotland, England or Ireland.

#14 dretceterini

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 22:23

Hans:

You are correct about proof.

I do not know exactly where I got the idea that some British racing cars were red at the turn of the century; perhpas from a painting I had seen. Maybe it's a memory like the Geo Ham painting of the T50 LeMans Bugatti that is blue instead of the correct color, which was black.

I am certain, however, that some of the Sunbeam LSR cars were red, and do not know why, especially if there were "official" colors by that time..

#15 Vitesse2

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 22:34

The Sunbeam was indeed red - there was also Bluebird and Golden Arrow. Lockhart's Stutz Black Hawk was black I think - but LSR cars didn't have to run in national colours.

#16 ensign14

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Posted 13 February 2003 - 22:38

Originally posted by Vitesse2
Lockhart's Stutz Black Hawk was black I think

Close, it was white. :p
(I think it was named after a place.)

The White Triplex may have been black... :stoned:

#17 dretceterini

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 02:25

If there were national colors, why wouldn't LSR cars run in them??

#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 11:20

Originally posted by dretceterini
If there were national colors, why wouldn't LSR cars run in them??


Because they were racing colours and LSR cars don't race (usually - I know several ex-LSR cars ran in events at Brooklands and elsewhere!)

#19 Rob29

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Posted 14 February 2003 - 16:14

At the turn of the century I would have thought that the distinction between racing & record breaking was very thin. There were in any case no race circuits in England until Brooklands. No one seems to have come up with any official colours for all international racing before WW1.

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#20 Alan Lewis

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 16:45

There seem to have been quite a few threads connected to national colours lately. In the German one I mentioned that the FIA Yearbook for 1975 had silver-grey as the German colour, rather than the often assumed white.

This seems as good a place as any for this list...

Appendix I to The International Sporting Code 1975
Distinctive national colours assigned to vehicles taking part in international competitions

A (AUSTRIA)
Blue body and bonnet, very wide lengthwise silver stripe from front to rear. Black numbers on a white background.

B (BELGIUM)
Yellow. Black numbers.

BR (BRAZIL)
Pale yellow body and bonnet, green chassis and wheels. Black numbers.

C (CUBA)
Yellow body, black bonnet. Black numbers on white background.

CDN (CANADA)
Red body and bonnet, wide lengthwise white stripe from front to rear. Black numbers on white background.

CH (SWITZERLAND)
White bonnet, red body and underframe. Black numbers.

CS (CZECHOSLOVAKIA)
Blue and white bonnet, white body, red underframe. Blue numbers.

D (WEST GERMANY)
Silver-grey. Red numbers.

DK (DENMARK)
Silver-grey body and bonnet, national flag as a lengthwise stripe on bonnet. Red numbers on white background.

E (SPAIN)
Yellow bonnet, red body, chassis and springs. Black numbers on yellow background or white numbers on red background.

ET (EGYPT)
Pale violet. Red numbers on white background.

F (FRANCE)
Blue. White numbers.

GB (GREAT BRITAIN)
Green. White numbers.

GR (GREECE)
Very pale blue, two white lengthwise stripes on bonnet. Black numbers on white background.

H (HUNGARY)
Red bonnet, White body at front, green at rear. Black numbers.

HKJ (JORDAN)
Brown body and bonnet. Black numbers on white background.

I (ITALY)
Red. White numbers.

IRL (IRELAND)
Green, horizontal band of orange all round bonnet and body. White numbers.

J (JAPAN)
Ivory white body and bonnet, red disc on bonnet. White numbers on black background.

L (LUXEMBOURG)
White body and bonnet, tricolour (red-white-blue) lengthwise stripe from front to rear. Black numbers on white background.

MC (MONACO)
White, red horizontal band round the body and bonnet. Black numbers on white background.

MEX (MEXICO)
Gold body and bonnet, blue cross stripe on bonnet. Black numbers on white background.

NL (NETHERLANDS)
Orange. White numbers.

P (PORTUGAL)
Red body and bonnet, white underframe. White numbers.

PL (POLAND)
White body and bonnet, red underframe. Red numbers.

RA (ARGENTINA)
Blue body, yellow bonnet, black chassis. Red numbers on white background.

RCH (CHILE)
Red body, blue bonnet, white underframe. Numbers half blue and half red, or all red, on white background.

S (SWEDEN)
Blue (lower part) and yellow (upper part) body and bonnet, three cross bands of blue on top of bonnet. White numbers.

SF (FINLAND)
White body, white bonnet with two blue stripes shaping a Latin cross. Black numbers on white background.

T (THAILAND)
Pale blue body and bonnet with yellow horizontal band round body and bonnet, pale yellow wheels. White numbers on blue background.

U (URUGUAY)
Pale blue body and bonnet with large red band around the lower part of the bonnet. White numbers on black background.

USA (UNITED STATES OF AMERICA)
White body and bonnet, blue underframe. Blue numbers on white background.

ZA (SOUTH AFRICA)
Gold body, green bonnet. Black numbers on yellow background.

APL

#21 dretceterini

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 18:00

What I am trying to determine now is:

(1) if there were any "official" colors prior to 1903. Hans seems to be of the opinion that there were not.

(2) if there were "official" colors during a particular time period, why did certain cars (some LSR and other) run in colors other than the "official" ones??


Thanks..
Stu

#22 Rob29

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 18:14

Originally posted by dretceterini
What I am trying to determine now is:



(2) if there were "official" colors during a particular time period, why did certain cars (some LSR and other) run in colors other than the "official" ones??


Thanks..
Stu

It seems that at no time were colours compulsory. AFAIK LSR cars were never in national colours.It was usually up to organizers whether to enforce Apendix'I' of the International Sporting Code. I can only recall one instance when this was done. A british entrant of a nice shiny new polished aluminium Lotus turned up at Le Mans and was told to paint it green at scruteneering!

#23 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 20:31

Originally posted by dretceterini
What I am trying to determine now is... if there were any "official" colors prior to 1903...

I have studied the onset of regulated colors while writing down the various formulae. My primary sources go only back to 1906, so I have to rely on the findings of respectable secondary sources. My findings can be read in post #7 of this thread. Post #18 also presents a rather important statement.

The question if there existed indeed any "official" colors prior to 1903 has already been answered by several secondary sources, which do not mention colors before the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race.

There are not even a handful of TNF members capable and willing to search in those old primary sources available to them. But would they do so? Probably yes, if they were convinced that there must have been official colors before 1903.

We should also remember that the AIACR was formed as late as June 20, 1904 and there was no international body that could have introduced color regulations before that time, except through the "INTERNATIONAL" Gordon Bennett rules, which were administered by the ACF. I never heard or read that the ACF or other clubs came up with the suggestion to have cars painted in different colors before 1903 to differentiate between the few nations participating in the Gordon Bennett Races. The reason for this is rather simple because there were no international races besides the Gordon Bennett events. The ACF found it necessary to change the Gordon Bennett rules as late as 1903 and introduce colors then and not before. Therefore, the question of colors must have been of little concern during the first three Gordon Bennett editions.

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 15 February 2003 - 20:39

I thought both these questions had been answered

Originally posted by dretceterini

(1) if there were any "official" colors prior to 1903. Hans seems to be of the opinion that there were not.

No

(2) if there were "official" colors during a particular time period, why did certain cars (some LSR and other) run in colors other than the "official" ones??

Official colours were used for international races whose regulations required them. Any LSR car competing in such an event would be required to conform. As they did not usually race in Grands Prix or international sportscar or voiturette races, they could be any colour they liked

#25 dretceterini

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 01:00

Thanks for the clarification...

#26 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 10:12

Here are more observations about colors from the distinguished Lord Montagu of Beaulieu.

1900 Gordon Bennett Race...
"...the allocation of national racing colours-blue for France, yellow for Belgium, red for the United States, and white for Germany. This was not a complete innovation, for on the occasion of Paris-Bordeaux in 1898 the 'official' Panhard team of de Knyff, Charron, and Girardot had turned out in blue, white, and red respectively, symbolic of the French tricolore. Nor did this immediately establish a rigid precedent outside the Gordon Bennett series; Mors cars were still painted red in 1901, and as late as 1902 the Renault, with which Marcel Renault won the light car section of Paris-Vienna, was red, and not blue."

[It seams that I have been misled by Braunbeck's Lexikon and that the Gordon Bennett regulations stipulated already for the first race that cars had to be painted in different colors . Gerald Rose states exactly the same on p116 of his book. That means I have to do more reading to sort out this contradiction.]

The 1902 Napier...
"The car was painted green–Mr Henry Knox remembers it as an olive shade, and it is possible that the colour was selected at the instigation of Charles Jarrott. The 40 h.p. Panhard driven by Jarrott in the 1901 Paris-Berlin Race had been assigned the unlucky nymber '13' and Panhards sought to cancel the hoodoo by painting the car an equally unlucky colour-green. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it) Jarrott had finished tenth. Even in 1902, however, green as the colour was becoming associated with Napier touring cars."

"All the 1903 Napier racing cars were painted emerald green–this was a gesture of respect to Ireland suggested by Count Zborowski shortly before his tragic death in the La Turbie Hill Climb, and the green motif was carried to extremes by the Napier équipe, the pit staff in Ireland sporting neckties of this hue. Green has remained Britain's official racing colour from that day onwards, though the shade has varied with different makes down the years."

1905 British Eliminating Trials...
"...and the Siddeley racers... ...With a capacity of ten litres, they were the smallest cars in the British trials; evidently their makers were not sanguine as to their chances, as the two machines turned up for the trials in coats of red paint."

"…The entry list was rounded off by a solitary Weir-Darracq, which was entered as a 'Weir' by its owner, Algernon Lee Guinness… ..it did not ‘wear the green’, but came to the start ‘burnished up with aluminium paint’."

#27 dmj

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Posted 16 February 2003 - 11:09

Finally found it:

(about 1900 Gordon-Bennett race) "For the first time national racing colours were assigned - blue for France, white for Germany, yellow for Belgium and red for America; at a later date red was to be worn at first by Great Britain and then by Italy, while the Napier company's special shade of green was to figure in international competitions as 'British Racing Green'. Arrol-Johnstons from Dumfries were even to race in France in 1912, painted in tartan, but this scheme was never officially recognised." (Michael Sedgwick: "Early cars", Octopus books, 1962, page 81)

#28 ensign14

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 11:35

The ACF Grand Prix following the German event 18 days later, saw the re-introduction of national colors as used in the Gordon Bennett Cup races, when Italian cars used to be black and had to be now red; USA changed from red only to now red-white; English, green; French, blue; German, white; Belgian, yellow; Swiss, red-yellow.

 

Bumping this, because the 1908 Austin in the Heritage Motor Museum is red.  I do not know if this has been repainted though.

 

However, I note I have a record from somewhere that, in the Coupe des Voitures Légères in 1911, the Arrol-Johnstons were green, but the English cars (Vauxhall, Calthorpe, and Sunbeam) were red - and had any Italians turned up they would have had to have green bodywork on red chassis.  The 1901 Gordon-Bennett Napier (which of course didn't in the end participate) was red.

(In a pleasing nod to the present, Bablot won the race with a punctured tyre...)



#29 robert dick

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 08:40

According to contemporary press reports, the Napier driven by Edge in the 1902 Bennett Cup (Paris-Innsbruck) was painted red; and the Austin driven by Resta in the 1908 GP de l'ACF/Dieppe was painted green.
 



#30 ensign14

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Posted 09 August 2020 - 09:11

The Heritage Austin was Moore-Brabazon's.  Didn't Renault have a race with team cars painted red, white, and blue?  Although red and green are less obvious team colours...



#31 Duc-Man

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 09:00

Bumping this, because the 1908 Austin in the Heritage Motor Museum is red.  I do not know if this has been repainted though.

 

However, I note I have a record from somewhere that, in the Coupe des Voitures Légères in 1911, the Arrol-Johnstons were green, but the English cars (Vauxhall, Calthorpe, and Sunbeam) were red - and had any Italians turned up they would have had to have green bodywork on red chassis.  The 1901 Gordon-Bennett Napier (which of course didn't in the end participate) was red.

(In a pleasing nod to the present, Bablot won the race with a punctured tyre...)

I don't know about the others but AFAIK is Vauxhalls company colour red, isn't it?



#32 Graham Gauld

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 07:30

Finally found it:

(about 1900 Gordon-Bennett race) "For the first time national racing colours were assigned - blue for France, white for Germany, yellow for Belgium and red for America; at a later date red was to be worn at first by Great Britain and then by Italy, while the Napier company's special shade of green was to figure in international competitions as 'British Racing Green'. Arrol-Johnstons from Dumfries were even to race in France in 1912, painted in tartan, but this scheme was never officially recognised." (Michael Sedgwick: "Early cars", Octopus books, 1962, page 81)


Having researched the Arrol-Johnston's in my history of Scottish Motor Racing and Drivers. Apparently what happened was that when Arrol-Johnston entered for that race in 1912 as Scottish, the Automobile Club of France hastily created a National colour for Scotland which was to be blue and green but the organisers were surprised when the cars turned up for the race painted in tartan. A photo of one of them can be seen in T.A.S.O. Mathieson's history of the French Grand Prix 1906-1914 . As far as I am aware blue and green are still the official National racing colours of Scotland.

#33 arttidesco

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 17:26

Being Irish I quite like the story that BRG was to commemorate the Gordon Bennett races being held in Ireland. However, I think it was more to do with Napier's personal choice of colour than anything to do with Ireland.


IMG-3990.jpg

1903 80hp Gordon Bennet Napier, but does it currently represent shamrock green ?

Bumping this, because the 1908 Austin in the Heritage Motor Museum is red. I do not know if this has been repainted though.

IMG-6451.jpg

... yes I have been wondering about the red 1908 100hp Austin at Gaydon and who had it painted red, IIRC red fearured on the insignia of the radiator grill badge on our 1964 Austin Pininfarina A40 Countryman, I understand Renault also liked red in Edwardian times though I have no idea why ;-)

#34 Doug Nye

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 18:11

A wonderful Italian-American car collector friend of mine told me once that, "Hey - I'm Italian. If I'm going to buy a race car and go racing in it I expect to be seen!  I wanna be seen! I want people to look at me! Red paint says 'Hey - I'm here!  Yoo-hoo!  Look at ME!".

 

It fits...and much the same psychology could surely be expected of any commercial company needing to justify the expense of racing.

 

DCN