McLaren Is Bringing the Classic Gulf Oil Livery Back to Formula 1


Made famous by its appearance on the likes of the Ford GT40 and Porsche 917, and in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans, the Gulf Oil getup is one of racing’s most recognizable liveries. The pleasing pairing of aquamarine and orange, of course, also gained notoriety on the winning Can-Am and Formula 1 cars of McLaren, which won over 40 races during its partnership with Gulf. And once again, McLaren will help hoist the Gulf colors to F1, as the two companies announced Tuesday they have inked a multi-year business partnership.

Orchestrated between Gulf Oil International Limited and the McLaren Group at large, the tie-up will see the Gulf logo and colors appear on both McLaren’s racing and road cars. This Friday, McLaren’s F1 team will reinstate Gulf’s presence in the world’s premier open-wheel series during practice for the British Grand Prix, displaying Gulf logos on the engine cover and mirrors of its MCL35 F1 car, as well as on the uniforms worn by the drivers and pit crew.

Gulf’s presence will also be felt on the Kiwi-rooted firm’s road cars starting in 2021 when McLaren will begin filling its supercars with Gulf-supplied gasoline and oils from the factory. The company’s personalization wing McLaren Special Operations will also offer a small run of commemorative Gulf color schemes, meant to pay tribute to the F1 GTRs that turned GT racing on its head in the 1990s.

While the Gulf trade dress can still be found on chains of convenience stores across the globe and even some heavily tuned Ford Mustangs, the Gulf brand as we know it today is but loosely related to the one that sponsored racing icons of the ’60s and ’70s. In the 1980s, the original Gulf was folded into an entity that became Chevron, and today, the Gulf IP is cooperatively tended by multiple companies. So while there are things of more authentic origin than a Gulf-sponsored race car in 2020, there are still few things prettier. That blue-on-orange will always be welcome in the racing world, which is always in need of another eye-catching livery.

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