We rate all of the 'retro' Supercars liveries from best to worst
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The PIRTEK Enduro Cup season of Supercars competition is almost upon us, with the field and their extended list of fresh co-drivers all preparing to take on this weekend's Sandown 500 in Victoria.
To help spice up the festivities and help the event connect more to its traditional roots, the series made the event a 'retro' round last year — with rousing success ... mostly. This year, even more teams and drivers are partaking in the throwback awesomeness. Ahead of testing tomorrow, we thought it wise to put each of these retro machines under the microscope. So here they all are — top of the class at the top of the list, with tardy students at the bottom.
Mobil 1 HSV No. 02: Scott Pye/Warren Luff
Australian motorsport history doesn't get much better than the legacy of the late Peter Brock. Each of his paint schemes have grown famous since he retired from the sport on a full-time basis in 1997, and of course since his untimely death in 2006.
Those to don Brock liveries (of which there are two in this list) tend to score well in popularity votes regardless of execution, but in the case of Mobil 1 HSV Racing's Pye/Luff entry it's a slam dunk both ways.
The crisp white background provides as clean a backdrop as ever, while it's great too to see blue back on a 'Walkinshaw' Commodore. The one grimace is the alteration to the much loved helmet and lion motif on the hind quarters, but considering the legalities of trademarks and logos, I think we can let that slide.
Garry Rogers Motorsport No. 33: Garth Tander/James Golding
As a '90s kid, perhaps it's my bias that sees two '90s-generation paint schemes top the list. But, it's hard to ignore just how sharp the Valvoline colours that Garry Rogers Motorsport flew through the '90s and '00s still look today.
Admittedly the livery, like the HRT (sorry, HSV) livery before it isn't a perfect replica. It's more curved and rounded to fit the VF Commodore shape. Still, it serves as another reminder of how good the clean-cut liveries of old looked.
Nissan Motorsport Calsonic No. 23: Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore
The whole Nissan Motorsport squad have controversially chosen liveries from Nissan's international motorsport history, as opposed to their history in Australia.
But as one Thomas Jefferson once said, "stuff the haters". The best of the Nissan bunch is their 'Calsonic' machine for Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore. This scheme is arguably the most famous in Japanese Touring Car Championship and Super GT history, having dominated over multiple decades. It's still used in Super GT today, too.
A cynic might say it looks a bit plain; a blue car with white branded stickers. But Calsonic blue has always popped on track. The white wheels are the icing on the cake.
Team Vortex Triple Eight No. 888: Craig Lowndes/Steve Richards
The tricky conundrum for Caltex is that all of their Supercars history is Ford based. On a team that's backed by the Holden factory, using a Ford livery from the sport's past sounds like a recipe for marketing disaster.
But, they've pulled it off. Instead of producing a recreated livery, the example that Craig Lowndes will share with Steve Richards this weekend cherry-picks elements from multiple Caltex-backed cars (from the Ford Sierra era, when Colin Bond was Caltex's numero uno). In the process, they've managed to roll out a livery that looks fresh even by today's standards.
Erebus Motorsport Penrite No. 9: David Reynolds/Luke Youlden
The second Brock tribute on the grid is a highly appropriate one.
It's not be the most famous or successful of Brock's paint schemes — representing his 1976 season after having been booted from the factory HDT squad at the end of '74. But, the privateer warpaint fits Erebus Motorsport's image perfectly. And with regular David Reynolds paired with the seasoned Luke Youlden, they could spring a surprise on the more fancied machines.
The squared off stripes under the headlights could've been shaped away in a better fashion, but you've got to admire the designer's pursuit of accuracy.
Prodrive Racing Supercheap No. 55: Chaz Mostert/Steve Owen
If the '70s and '80s symbolise the berth of racing liveries, then the '90s was definitely the exploratory period where people tried to push the boundaries. Plenty of iconic looks were created in this era, but plenty of crazy and weird schemes were too.
The original Supercheap Auto scheme, as well as its recreation, probably fit into this bucket. Indeed, purple, red, and yellow don't exactly sound like a logical fit. And yet, they fit the new-age FG-X Falcon of Chaz Mostert and Steve Owen very well. Even with the big fat square of white on the bonnet.
Red Bull Holden Racing Team No. 88 and No. 97: Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell & Shane van Gisbergen/Matt Campbell
Of course, while some race car sponsors are more than happy to show their support for motorsport heritage, others aren't.
Red Bull have always fielded a very corporate look in Supercars world; rarely ever straying from the same clean and interchangeable liveries year in and year out. But, instead of forgoing retro round all together, they went with their own original scheme that took on elements of Holdens of old.
While it doesn't reference any specific cars in particular, it does look balanced, original, and ultimately like something from the period. The red pin striping and outlined bonnet are the greatest influencers, while the use of old-school Holden logos seals the look.
Nissan Motorsport Carsales No. 7: Todd Kelly/Jack Le Brocq
There are two other Peter Brock tributes on the grid, but they're not exactly what you'd expect.
Both cars reference another Peter Brock in world motorsport; the one at the helm of Nissan's (well ... Datsun's) American racing program in the '70s. Like Australian Brock, American Brock's paint schemes have also become iconic in their own right. And they look fantastic on the Nissan Altima of Todd Kelly/Jack Le Brocq, as well as ... the Altima of ...
Nissan Motorsport Sengled No. 15: Rick Kelly/David Wall
Yep, very nice.
Garry Rogers Motorsport No. 34: James Moffat/Richard Muscat
History typically tells us that second-generation race drivers like James Moffat are rarely fans of being compared to their race-driver parents. But, considering just how many gorgeous-looking liveries that James' father Allan Moffat used in the Australian Touring Car Championship, it would certainly be tempting to use a few of them.
Though, this isn't from the ATCC. No, this livery is based on the Rothmans Commodore VL that Moffat campaigned all over Europe, during the days of Group A when almost every major international category ran to the same rule book. There's some nice details in this one, including the GRM logos on the tyre walls, the white wheels, and the white grill too.
Such is the competition that it's not closer towards the top.
Cooldrive Racing No. 4: Tim Blanchard/Todd Hazelwood
All three of Brad Jones Racing's liveries pay homage to Norm Beechey — the first driver to deliver Holden an ATCC title, and perhaps a name that is highly underrated by the sport's historians.
The trio of liveries each depict a different phase of his career; Blanchard and Hazelwood's Cooldrive car is a replica of the blue and white Mustang he made famous, Percat and Jones' Mongrel Boots Commodore references his time racing a Chevrolet Nova in the late '60s, and Slade and Walsh's bright yellow Commodore is a replica of the Monaro he took to title glory in 1970.
Brad Jones Racing No. 8: Nick Percat/Macauley Jones
Freightliner Racing No. 75: Tim Slade/Ash Walsh
The main critique here is the simplicity of each car, with just a solitary racing stripe and some retro primary logos and number formats breaking up the solid colour.
If you're thinking that I'm being biased, having placed a plain blue car way up the order in third place, well ...
... well ...
... you could be onto something.
Nissan Motorsport Harvey Norman No. 78: Simona de Silvestro/David Russell
Completing the Nissan Motorsport retro line-up is Simona de Silvestro and David Russell's entry. It's a reference to the R380 Type II that the manufacturer used to claim a set of speed records in 1967.
The car looks fine, but it does raise the slight irony of a car based on the relatively sluggish Altima being used to pay respects to a low-slung, super sleek sports car that set speed records.
Mobil 1 HSV Racing No. 22: James Courtney/Jack Perkins
Sponsor requirements are what ultimately disappoint on the Mobil 1 HSV Racing squad's No. 22 entry. It's meant to be a replica of the Holden VE Commodore that Garth Tander drove to victory in the 2007 championship chase, but loses a good chunk of its identity thanks to the lack of the team's fabled lion/helmet motif from the time.
You also have to wonder whether something that's only 10 years old can really be considered retro...
Erebus Racing ADVAM No. 99: Dale Wood/Chris Pither
Erebus Motorsport earn themselves a fairly massive lump of nerd points by referencing a car from Australia's short-lived AUSCAR series. It was the country's attempt to cash in on the overseas success of NASCAR. The category helped foster the careers of several Supercars drivers, including the likes of Brad Jones.
But we aren't marking purely on nerd value, and the ADVAM design Dale Wood and Kiwi Chris Pither will use this weekend looks very '90s in the worst way...
Preston Hire Racing No. 18: Lee Holdsworth/Karl Reindler
What to say about this one...
With a team as young as Preston Hire Racing, it's tough to dip back into their own history. However, in the absence of that, the team had the genius idea of going back through the history of Preston Hire. The 'Preston Erection' name is the brand's original title, and will be hard to ... err ... miss on track.
The car most notably features a split livery. So while on one side it's pink and white, on the other it's yellow and black like the team's standard livery. You won't miss it, which I suppose is a positive.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Plus Fitness No. 3: Aaren Russell/Taz Douglas
Like Preston Hire Racing, the relatively young Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport outfit skipped going back through their own history to instead focus on their two primary sponsor brands; Plus Fitness and Phil Munday's Panel works.
The Plus Fitness colour scheme looks quite pleasant, while the Munday machine ...
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport No. 62: Alex Rullo/Alex Davison
... looks admittedly even more retro, and befitting of the brief. Spoiled only by the big green Castrol lump on the bonnet.
Shell V Power Racing Team No. 12 and No. 17: Fabian Coulthard/Tony D'Alberto & Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat
While we've 'ranked' the liveries above from best to worst, they're all generally great to see, and represent a fun twist for the series.
Of all the teams, you'd think that the now married Dick Johnson Racing and Penske Racing Shell outfit would be prime for an incredible retro livery. The amount of iconic cars in Australia and America that the team could've called upon is immense ... But, instead of putting on a show, they disappointed.
Their 'retro' scheme amounts to the use of old Shell logos on the doors, bonnet, and roof. Otherwise the cars look standard. You've got to respect the team for being part of the changes, but ... come on guys. You could've done way, way better.