QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese racing livery?

Graphics. Livery. Warpaint. Originally meant to identify the country of origin and visually distinguish fast-moving cars on the track, they are now the domain of corporate sponsors. Either way, there have been some darn cool ones. Therefore we ask:

What’s the greatest Japanese racing livery?

As tempted as we are to score another one for the Mazda and the 787B’s so-garish-it’s-cool Le Mans scheme, we have to go with the Honda RA272‘s simple red circle on white. Not only did it invoke the hinomaru, but after Honda won the Mexican Grand Prix in 1965 Championship White became the color of choice to distinguish Soichiro’s foremost feats of engineering from plebeian conveyances for the masses.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random toy. Click through to see the winner from last week’s question, “What’s the best sequel?” 

The winner this week is dickie, who nominated the Toyota X-chassis cars. From Corona Mark II to Chaser to Cressida to Mark X, these sleds have been around so long that the chassis code has outlived the model name.

But for serious, the only real answer is the Toyota X-chassis. From the x10 Mark II to the X120 Mark X, the lineage of what was once Toyota’s stateside flagship has continually improved and adapted to suit the times.

The X-chassis has underpinned sedans, coupes and wagons over the decades. It has been raced in professional series and by amateurs in somewhat less-than-legal contests on Japan’s expressways. Today it wouldn’t be impossible to see an X3 sliding door-to-door with its descendants from any generation up to current at a drift event, or ordered by age at a parking area. You’d have a great opportunity to see how Toyota has advanced in terms of design and technology, from carbureted to DOHC and turbocharged inlines and direct-injected vee sixes. From simple solid axles to complex fully-independent suspensions. From manual toggles and radial knobs when multiple speakers were an option to fully automatic cabins loaded with every conceivable luxury and convenience amenity as standard.

Omedetou! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a micro Choro-Q Nissan S30 Fairlady Z!

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31 Responses to QotW: What’s the greatest Japanese racing livery?

  1. Nigel says:

    Nissan battle colors. Black & Red.

  2. kev gurney says:

    what about the black and red colors of advan?

    • RdS says:

      beat me to it! love the Advan look. 🙂

      To throw another favourite out there, I always loved the Calsonic bright blue used on racing Skylines over the years. It’s just so plain and simple, yet the giant block of colour still makes it stand out.
      I’d love to build a replica of both the R31 GTSR and BNR32 GTR Calsonic car’s..

      oh..oh.. and the TOMICA DR30.. aargh! Damn, there’s been plenty of classics..

  3. Dutch 1960 says:

    BRE Datsun Red/White/Blue

  4. Ryan says:

    The red warpaint over the typically Japanese cream factory coating of the KPGC10 is a fearsome thing indeed. It’s the perfect compliment to the aggressive styling of the car. It’s the perfect icon, even seeing a replica in real life would send chills up the spine of any JNC enthusiast worth their salt.

    If it looks tough now, just imagine how downright frightening it would have been to be driving against one in the JGP at Fuji Speedway in 1971. Seeing those red headlight covers and chin spoiler, with the external oil cooler bolted on the front, appearing in your rear view and looming ever closer with every passing turn. Impossible to shake off, and it inevitably passes you, side exit exhaust blaring glorious S20 noise at 9000rpm. And you can’t do a thing about it.

    It’s absolutely perfect.

  5. Sammy B says:

    Even though the name implies it wouldn’t qualify for this, Dan Gurney’s All American Racers were always great looking Toyotas. I’m particularly fond of the 1996-1999 CART livery for PJ Jones & Juan Fangio where the nose of the car was an Eagle. Equally awesome from a US & Japanese standpoint [they were Toyota’s factory team in CART in this stretch]

  6. dankan says:

    My vote goes to the Yellow Corn McLaren F1 back in the late-90s to early-00s of JGTC. Other people will nominate stuff which is more graceful, or more iconic, but nothing else is quite as funky and downright Japanese.

    It was bright yellow and orange and left one with absolutely no clue who Yellow Corn were or what they were selling (upon subsequent investigation one learns they’re a clothing company). Even more than the Itasha BMWs currently in Super GT, this was “Only in Japan” stuff. They also had the best looking Race Queens of the era, and that counts for something too.


  7. dickie says:

    Thanks Ben, I’m stoked to hear that my COTD was chosen!

    I have never really been a fan of yellow cars, and I don’t know if the example I’m about to post can really be counted as “racing livery,” but I want to throw it in the ring anyway:

    The speed trial Toyota 2000GT finished in bright canary yellow and black would definitely be my favorite to date. Something about the original paint on any classic Japanese car does it for me… I like the depth of color you just don’t get from modern jobs with a lot of metallic or pearl and factory orange peel.

  8. autro says:

    I’m gonna cast my vote for the ’91 Castrol Celica. Not only is it a beautiful, simplistic fluid design around the contours of the body, but leaves a lasting impression in your mind of a car that won the WRC a mere year after being introduced to the championship. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a diehard Mazda fan and rotor-head, but this car is simply gorgeous.

    Not to mention I’d love to rock a JNC sticker on my new ’83 Celica.

    • autro says:

      I’m sorry, it won the Monte Carlo, Safari Rally, plus 4 more events making it one of Toyota’s most successful rally cars, ending it’s run in 1994. The beautiful ST185.

  9. Freddy says:

    Between John Player Special and PMC-S Livery IMO

  10. cesariojpn says:

    The Fujiwara Tofu Sticker from Initial D.


    Hey, you never said WHAT kind of racing or have a specific racing series in mind now.

  11. Menard says:

    Castrol livery for the JGTC Supra and WRC ST185 and ST205.

    The “Ice” livery for the Toyota GT One.

  12. Danny says:

    Well this is an easy one: the Renown orange and green of the 787b at LeMans. Imagine, you’re some racing driver with millions of dollars in support from Mercedes, when some raucous evil bark of noise from a car lined up behind you just commands your attention; likewise, the paint is equally in your face, and you scoff at the sight of an obscure Mazda, wondering if it’ll even finish. 24 hours later you eat your balaclava as the wailing 4 rotor crosses the line first, in an orange/green streak of glorious Wankel victory. Perhaps if the paint wasn’t so bold the motor wouldn’t have been banned. I’m sure Mazda was quite proud of the radical and bohemian 4-rotor, and needed the wild paint scheme to turn the volume up to eleven-thousand rpms..

  13. Lucien says:

    The RE Amemiya battle colors are always…. distinctive. The baby blue cars, especially, always come off as unique…if a bit metro. But that’s cool because Japan.

    • Andre says:

      Metro?! Your crew cab pick up is more metro than a stock tC.

      • John says:

        There is NOTHING more metrosexual than a stock tC. 🙂

        • dickie says:

          TC in any form would have most of us expecting the driver to not know much about cars. How they were able to sell the thing as a “sporty” vehicle to “enthusiasts” is anyone’s guess. Maybe the bait-and-switch commercials featuring the car “drifting.” I always thought of the Buzz Lightyear commercial when I saw them, like they should have been accompanied by fine print and a voiceover that stated “NOT A DRIFTING CAR.”

          Then they upped the ante by making it even uglier with a redesign and suckering rubes with their RWD conversions that are totally impossible for the average Scion owner to accomplish.

  14. Harrison says:


    The JACCS livery on Hondas is, and will be, forever associated with the early-mid ’90s.

  15. The greatest japanese racing livery can’t be other but the Castrol colors that adorned the bodies of many Celicas, Corollas and Supras at many events around the world.

    Those are amazing cars by their own, but we really grew fond of them thanks to our japanese friends Sega and Playstation.
    When someone talks about Sega Rally Championship, you think: Castrol Celica.
    When someone talks about Gran Turismo, you think: Castrol Supra.
    The company’s name merged into the car’s name, and both became one single entity.
    That’s how strong the Castrol livery is.

    Red, blue, green… colors all over the place!
    But the true japanese racing color is always there. Actually it is the base color of those cars: look at a Castrol Supra JGTC or a Castrol Celica, and thou shall see they’re all painted white.

  16. Tofuik says:

    Because of JNC I can’t get enough of the BRE 510. Nothing has inspired more japanese racing spirit in me that that little Datsun. Crazy considering its a product of Japanese technology pushed to the limits by American hotrodders, but I think thats what really gets me going. I was into ratrods before I fell in love with J-Tin and that’s always given me an appreciation for what us over sea’ers can do with what the japanese give us. It may not be a Japanese Livery, but its my favorite one that’s ever graced a sweet sexy japanese body.

  17. Kelvin Hiraishi says:

    Battle colors of the legendary Mazda RX3 at Fuji Speedway.

    Zebra Verticle Stripes (all colors) across the whole car front to back. The story behind this paint scheme was at high speed around Fuji the RX3 was speeding past fences surrounding this high speed high banked track. At speed peeking through these fences the 3 looked like time elapsed verticle stripes. This is one of many legendary stories of the Mazda RX3.

  18. Aly says:

    The red (with white and yellow) Winfield Racing livery of the Gibson Motorsport R32 Skyline GTR.

    Nothing ever struck as much fear into the hearts of V8 Holden and Ford drivers in the Group A days of the early 90s, and proved that Japanese engineering sophistication would beat old-fashioned V8 power (and pretty much everything else), every single time. The “Godzilla” was so disruptive that all the other teams rallied for a handicap to be placed on it – and in 1993 the ATCC rules were changed to ban it, leading to the two-horse race now known as V8 Supercars.

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