Iconic Gulf Oil Racing Liveries In Motorsport
The Gulf Oil moniker has returned to the Formula One paddock and more importantly to the McLaren family as a new partnership was announced to make it the lubricant supplier for McLaren Automotive's road car range from 2021. This also means that Gulf branding will be present on the McLaren F1 car once again, which coincidentally sports a similar papaya orange and blue livery.
But this sort of livery isn’t exactly what racing cars running Gulf Oil branding is iconic for. Looking back at Gulf Oil’s long affiliation with motorsports that stretch back towards the late 1930s, it was the late 60s that saw the iconic blue-orange combination livery make its debut. With that in mind, here’re some iconic Gulf Racing liveries over the years.
Ford GT40 Mk I
You might be familiar with the Ford GT40 name as it played a crucial part in the legendary 24Hrs of Le Mans battle between Ford and Ferrari, which was also showcased in the movie Ford vs Ferrari. But it was actually the Mk II that took Ford’s first Le Mans win in 1966, whereas the Mk1 couldn't make it to the flag in 1964. But after 1967, FIA restricted prototypes to 3.0-litre engine capacity and created a new category for Competition Sports Cars. This category allowed engine displacement of upto 5.0-litres but a minimum of 25 cars had to be produced. And that’s where the GT40 Mk I rejoined the fray.
The GT40 Mk II piloted by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi continued Ford’s winning streak at Le Mans in 1968 with the racecar sporting a predominantly baby blue body shade with an orange strip running down the middle. The following year saw Ford take the win once again, this time piloted by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver.
A prototype born out of a loophole in the 1968 world sportscar championship rules, the 917 tasted success at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971 with the Gulf-JWAE prototype driven by Richard Attwood and Herbert Müller taking 2nd place overall in 1971. Unlike the Ford GT40, the 917 sported more orange around the prototype with the orange bits now covering the lower half of the front end and side profile.
McLaren M20 Can Am
The successor to the M8, the 1972 M20 in the hands of Denny Hulme was strong against the Porsche 917, but was plagued by reliability woes and signalled the end of both McLaren’s Can-Am success and its time at the championship. You’ll notice the trademark papaya orange and blue livery that we now see in the current F1 car.
McLaren F1 GTR
The McLaren F1 GTR in its debut at Le Mans took victory with a 1-3-4-5 finish. The Gulf livery F1 GTR piloted by Mark Blundell, Ray Bellm and Sandro Sala finished 4th in that race. This Gulf livery featured a darker shade of blue and orange accents that extended to the rear of the car.
Which one's your favorite Gulf themed livery? Let us know in the comments below.