Racing teams first used racing stripes to help them easily identify their cars during the race. But then it grew into a popular car culture practice after the 1965 Ford Mustang GT350 came along, and they haven’t gone away since. They are also known as the Le Mans stripes or the ‘go-faster stripes.’ They are a regular feature on muscle cars, and while they make your car look fast, they aren’t performance mods, so don’t expect to add twenty extra horses after a simple paint or vinyl job.
Regardless, racing stripes are tied up with racing heritage and alpha-male bravado. That said, this style is not for every car. Some look better dressed in a single color because they lack a clearly established pedigree of stripes, and throwing these liveries on them screams that you’re a poser. Some manufacturers have hacked the right way to use this style for decades, and here are the ten cars that always look better with racing stripes.
10 Ford Shelby Mustang
Shelby Mustangs have become synonymous with the pair of stripes running down the length of the car ever since Carroll Shelby debuted the 1965 Shelby GT350. Their popularity is so much that Shelby is wrongly credited with inventing this style, but every Shelby Mustang through the years looks better with racing stripes
The 2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 Heritage Edition comes in Brittany Blue paint with a choice of vinyl or hand-painted stripes that make the one-year-only model match the badass looks of the original 1967 GT500. The vinyl stripes come standard, but to get the hand-painted stripes you have to fork out an extra $10,000. Regardless of whether old or new, racing stripes and Shelby Mustangs are a natural fit.
9 Dodge Viper ACR
Alongside drag-race heroes like the Hellcat and Demon, Dodge has been making a focused, scalpel-sharp track weapon in the V10 powered Viper. A hero of the nineties’ the Viper is as notable for its eight-liter monstrous engine as it is with racing stripes. The ACR features a two-tone stripe, one fat and one skinny, to provide a unique look and one of the coolest stripes ever slapped on any car.
The stripes on the Dodge Viper often come in two colors and flow all the way to the car’s spoiler. The large stripe will set you back $5,000 and the smaller one $4500, a small amount to make this six-figure racing car even more stylish.
8th Mini Cooper
The Mini Cooper is a great example of big fun in small packages, and proof that style isn’t a reserve of American beasts. Even though the Mini is widely considered a feminine car, tons of factory customizations like the racing stripes help add some manly bravado. Since BMW brought back the legendary brand into the fold, they have explored a few aesthetic tweaks to go with their racing strategy.
Given its sporty personality, the Mini deserves its stripes which add to the cheeky character of the little car.
7 Ford GT
Ford’s contribution to making racing stripes popular can’t be overstated, and the Ford GT is one of their cars that look spectacular in racing stripes. the no 68 Ford GT powered by a V6 engine wore its single white speed line majestically to win the 2016 Le Mans LM GTE Pro category and evoke the spirit of the classic GT40 of the sixties.
The livery on the Ford GT40 is one of its distinct features. Various color combinations work well with this car, whether blue stripes on a white body, black on red, silver stripes on liquid red metallic, and more.
6 Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni
Only 250 examples of the limited-edition Lamborghini Gallardo Balboni were built to honor Lamborghini’s esteemed test driver Valentino Balboni. The Italian marque’s longest-running star employee tested the best of their exotic cars for over four decades since Ferruccio Lamborghini himself hired him. The Balboni was built upon the rear-wheeled Gallardo, and its 550hp V10 engine made it easy to perform controlled oversteer.
The car’s classic sporting personality is underlined by the white and gold longitudinal stripe running the car’s entire length from the front over the roof and parts of the engine cover at the back.
5 Chevrolet Chevelle SS
In the late 60s and early 70s, the Chevelle SS was one of the brutes and America’s king of the streets. The 1970 LS6-powered Chevelle was a yardstick for muscle cars, making 450 hp and 500 lb-ft, which tucked in the midsize body made for a thrilling experience. Add the twin stripes on the hood, and you were not only fast, but looked the part too.
The Chevelle didn’t come with factory-applied stripes until the 1967 model year. The coolest stripe option came with the 1970 model offered with the “Stereo Stripes” package that ran the length of the car from the hood to the deck lid.
4 Lancia Alitalia Stratos & Martini Stratos
The Lancia Stratos is one of Rally sport’s all-time greats after having a short but illustrious career in the 1970s. About 500 examples were built for homologation, and today they are highly collectible, fetching top dollar at auction. The Martini and Alitalia sponsored cars came to the Group B races with the intent of winning and looking good while at it, thanks to the spectacular racing livery.
Alitalia cars featured V-shaped racing stripes in Italian green and red running from the front of the hood and widening as they covered the car’s entire length to the back. The Martini sponsored car stripes were a blend of red and blue, running by the fenders and hood through the length of the car on each side.
3 Shelby Cobra
Every gearhead knows about the Shelby Cobra, the little slingshot-like go-kart that kick-started Carroll Shelby’s automotive career. The lightweight roadster featured a series of powerful V8s ranging from 260 ci to 427 ci with no traction control to tame the beast or airbag to save you from scratches if you lose control. That didn’t stop proud owners from showing off with the radical side exhaust and the pretty blue and white Le Mans stripes.
These stripes give the Shelby Cobra a distinctive design and competitive appearance, and if you had $5 million to spare for a 427 Cobra today, you’d most likely want it striped.
2 Lotus Elise
The Lotus Elise is unlike any other car. In the 25-year plus continuous production run, it remained fresh and relevant, offering a beautifully simple, pleasing compact sports car with the same energy and feedback it debuted with. There have been a few striped versions in that span, and the British automaker did them justice.
A great example is the Sport 220 Heritage Edition which came out in 2020 featuring some of the sexiest stripes on a car ever. They appeared in many colors to pay tribute to classic Lotus Grand Prix legends.
1 Plymouth Hemi’Cuda
The Plymouth Hemi Cuda is one of the most handsome and best-named among the greatest muscle cars ever built. With the available power of a 426ci V8 under the long hood, things could go wrong quickly. Key to its good looks is the exquisite collection of stripe options that were offered with the car in the early ’70s models.
The Hemi Cuda had different stripe designs for its two years; the 1970 had a “hockey stick” style, while the 1971 had “billboard” style. In each case, the stripe proudly displayed the word “Hemi” within its design. Either way, the car seemed receptive, and they could help you stand out in style.
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