We had a reader write in to us from the Street Muscle Magazine Facebook page, and he asked us about the striping on certain musclecars, both classic and modern. The question had to do with not only the number of stripes, but also the location, and what the significance is of those stripes, if any.
We see things today where specific colors have meaning, such as the lights on emergency vehicles, or awareness ribbons – such as pink is for breast cancer awareness, yellow is a symbol for military support, etc. But what about the color of stripes on cars? Does that really mean anything like the awareness ribbons?
It’s hard to imagine a Shelby Cobra without a pair of stripes the length of the car. But do they mean anything in particular?
Fulvio is from Rome, Italy, and asked:
Hello guys, I am a passionate of cars and for some years I have tried to discover the history and the world of cars and American vehicles. That said, there are things I do not understand that I have not found an answer, maybe I can request help from you? There are sports cars that come standard with colored stripes on the front [fenders] usually yellow or red – like the Corvette Grand Sport – but I also found on the Shelby Cobra and others. Could you say what they mean, if the color has a meaning or something?
It’s a good question, but it has a very simple explanation that some might not know. Of course, we all know the stripes that run the length of the car from the front bumper up over the roof to the rear are called “racing stripes” and that is the first clue as to where they came from.
This is why they’re called ‘racing stripes’ – they started out on race cars back in the day, and they became popular and made their way to production cars.
In early racing, many of the cars looked similar, and many of them were topless. For a race team in the pits, it was difficult to identify their car and driver so race teams began to adorn the cars with striping in various colors, locations, and configurations.
It wasn’t hard to spot which car was theirs when they saw a blue car with two white stripes from front to back, but when the vantage point was from the side and the car was too far away to read the number, side stripes were another way to make their car stand out.
When your team's car is in a pack like this, having a different color and a different stripe helps it to stand out from a distance, without having to grab the binoculars.
These days, there are quite a few cars with the two stripes on the fender, like the C4 and C7 Corvette Grand Sport, but there really isn’t any significance to them other than to be different or unique. There was one 1963 Corvette Grand Sport that raced with two red hashmarks on the left fender only. The stripes were actually duct tape, so the fact that they were red could be because that was the only color they had. It was done merely to identify that car from the other two in that particular race. The tape was removed after that race and not used again.
The fact that these two fender stripes are red has no significance, because the original car used duct tape, and they were removed after one race.
When the C4 Corvette Grand Sport was produced, it did pay homage to that one Grand Sport in 1963, and a genuine C4 GS should have only red stripes, only on the left fender. The C7 Grand Sport has the stripes on both fenders, and that doesn’t sit well with some since it is not in true fashion to the original.
While there are some vehicles today that emulate the striping on famous or significant racecars from years past, the original stripes didn’t have any specific meaning or translation. They just made the cars stand out.
The two awareness ribbons on the left have specific meanings because of their colors. The red hashmarks on the C4 Grand Sport fender do pay homage to the one car in 1963 that had stripes.
Do you have a question about classic musclecars that you’d like us to answer? Let us know, visit our Facebook page and ask away, and we’ll see if we can answer it for you.