One of the aspects that most attract the attention of fans of this hobby is the undisputed cult livery status of the Gulf colors. It predominates in conversations about mythical decorations, which grabs my attention. Above Martini, Rothmans, Renault’s iconic liveries (yellow black and white), or Marlboro, or the Rosso Ferrari, to name a few notable examples. Gulf. And there is no more.
I admit that I was impressed by the number of followers that the Gulf livery has to decorate its cars, whether they are historical tributes, or if they are for slot cars that have absolutely nothing to do with any automobile feat associated with said sponsorship.
And it is true that the level of attachment or admiration to a livery is a very personal, very subjective process ….. In my particular case, I associated the Gulf colors with times that were somewhat past – said with affection and respect -, as for example Steve McQueen’s Le Mans movie, in which his powerful Porsche 917 sported these colors.
In a car magazine that I have bought religiously every month since 1986, no issue pays tribute to this livery, or there is any report dedicated to a recent champion vehicle with those colors, but there it is on everyone’s mind. And I can’t help but admit it, it has its charm.
Now it is back to the top in motorsport, as it will be part of the decoration of this year’s F1 Mclaren (2021), unfortunately without Carlitos, our “Smooth Operator”, who will drive a Prancing Horse this year. But taking a good look, it turns out that it is still present in a lot of disciplines ….. I have been missing something all this time.
Brief history of Gulf colors in competition
To begin with, who better than the company itself to tell us about its involvement in motorsport. https://www.gulfoilltd.com/timeline/sport/
On this page we are presented in a very graphic way, a chronology, from which, we see that the involvement of Gulf in the world of motorsports goes back to the 30s, in the mythical 500 miles of Indianapolis. In that decade, in 1938 it began its sponsoring activity, with a revolutionary car for its time, the Gulf-Miller with a supercharged 6-cylinder rear engine and all-wheel drive. Although this car was not lucky in the Indy 500 due to various vicissitudes, they broke several speed records on the salt lake of Bonneville, Utah.
In the 1960s it is when the company redefines as identifying colors of its corporate image, a shade of sky blue (‘powder blue’) combined with orange, considering the previous combination of dark blue and orange as not very flashy. This election sought above all to convey a more vibrant image of the company. Over time it has become such an iconic image that Gulf became the first oil company to register or patent its brand colors.
These new colors debuted with victory in the famous 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans thanks to the legendary Ford GT40. Here you have in action the brand new car rolling in that place of pilgrimage for petrolheads that is Goodwood. It can be said that it is with the GT40 that the Gulf fever is born.
In this link you can see a copy of that year, on a website of a collecting page.https://www.legendarycollectorcars.com/2015/12/1966-ford-gt40-mirage-in-gulf-oil-livery/
Here is a website dedicated to the GT40 with Gulf livery: http://www.gt40gulfliverycars.com/thecars.html
And one of my favorite websites, Petrolicious, dedicating an article to the allure of the Gulf livery, and why it remains so special after all these years. Here fans of the livery can give themselves another dose: https://petrolicious.com/articles/what-has-kept-the-gulf-racing-livery-so-special-for-so-long
And from there it is recent history, all the racing cars bearing such illustrious colors. The 1994 Gulf Kremer Porsche Spyder K8 at Le Mans, the Gulf-sponsored McLaren F1GTRs between 1995 and 1997, the 2001 Audi R8, the LMP2 Courage in 2005, the 2006 Dakar Nissan 4X4, the LMP2 Zytek in 2007 , or the Aston Martin of GT1 category that won in Le Mans 2008, the Aston Martin DBR1-2 of LMP1 ….. The list does not end.
MVery good, but …… can I have Gulf slot cars ?
Of course. Beginning with the charismatic VW T1, through the Ford GT40, or the most recent Ford GT GTE, Porsche 997 GT3, Audi R8, Mclaren F1 GTR, Ford Escort MK1, Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2, Mosler MT900R, Mini Coooper , Porsche 917k ……. The list is endless. You could say that “there is a Gulf for each and every one of us.” Not to mention those fans who unleash their inner artist and paint their own “Gulfs”.
They undoubtedly add a touch of charisma and history to our slot track.
And what better way to conclude this article than to acknowledge that I myself gave in to the charm of the Gulf livery, even if it was “grafted” onto 2 models that had little to do with it. A Lancia Stratos and a Ford Mustang, both in Group 5. So what are we going to fool ourselves, you paint a car with these colors, and already in sight it looks like a winner.
See you in the next article dear reader!