Racing Colors
by Doug Breithaupt

For many years, international racing was color coded. Today, remnants of this system still exist. Italian racing red still graces Ferrari race cars. British racing green can still be found at Le Mans. French racing blue is still used in Formula 1. German racing silver is still popular for Porsche and Mercedes race cars. Finally, U.S. colors are white with blue stripes and Dodge Vipers have recently carried these famous colors. While other nations have racing colors as well, they are seldom seen.

Represented here are favorite 1:64 diecast from the Breithaupt Collection, featuring racing cars in the five best-known racing colors. Three race or rally cars have been selected for each of the five nationalities.


First are three classic Ferrari race cars in red. The 1961 Formula 1 Ferrari #73 is one of the best ever produced by Matchbox. Hot Wheels did a late '60's Le Mans Ferrari 312P race car, red-line #6417. Another Matchbox, Ferrari 308 GTB #70, from the late '70's, rounds out the field.

Representing U.S. white and blue, a 1998 model from Maisto presents the open-wheel chassis of the Indy Racing League. Powered by GM motors, the real cars would sport far more graphics than this clean machine. From 1967, two cars gave Ford many racing wins. The Ford GT40 #41 by Matchbox is the car that took Le Mans from Ferrari. The Shelby Mustang GT350 by Johnny Lightning is a new offering #46-722, and reproduces a great SCCA racer.

French blue has graced many great race and rally cars. The Ligier Formula 1 car of 1982 is one of Polistil's fine F1 offerings, #RJ59. The Renault Alpine A310 by Tomica, #F58 was a successful GT racer in it's time. Matchbox's 1970 Citroen-Maserati SM, #51, won the 1971 'Rally Morocco' and ran in European GT races.

British racing green or BRG as it is known, is well represented by the 1957 Jaguar 'D' type offered by Matchbox as #41. A second Jaguar, the XJ-S of 1978 was European GT champion, and Tomica's #F14 is a close copy. The 1968 Lotus Europa Special by Tomica, #F15, was the first mid-engine production car from Colin Chapman and an active club racer.


Germany's silver bullets have often been the cars to beat. The Porsche Carrera 6 by Siku, #V285, was a very popular racer. The BMW M1, by Matchbox #52 had it's own racing series in 1981. The new Matchbox AMG Mercedes-Benz GTC sedan, #15-5 of the Premier Collection series, is currently racing in European Touring Car events.




While racing colors were originally a way for fans to follow the nationality of various racing teams, the symbolism remains both a patriotic statement and appeal to racing heritage. Toy car manufacturers, like their full-size counterparts, cannot resist the use of these colors as well. The opportunity to create racing color displays is yet another reason for collectors to open those blister-packs and enjoy their toys.