The best road cars with race liveries

10th July 2024
Ethan Jupp

The introduction of the Maserati MC20 Leggenda, which will make its world debut alongside the Icona at the 2024 Goodwood Festival of Speed presented by Mastercard, very much got us thinking about road cars with race liveries. The Leggenda’s highly distinctive black and bright blue scheme replicates loosely the Vitaphone scheme seen on the Maserati MC12 when it raced some two decades ago. Does it join a long illustrious list of road cars with race liveries? You bet it does. Here are a few of our favourites.


BMW M3 Lightweight

We’re starting (relatively) subtle because the BMW M3 Lightweight doesn’t exactly feature a full livery. But it does feature a splash of the BMW motorsport flag of the period – most inspired by the M3 GTR IMSA-dominating racer to which it was a tribute – across the bonnet and wing above the headlight. The Lightweight was a track special for the US, eschewing air conditioning, an audio system, and an alarm. It had manual seats and even reduced sound deadening. A proper thing.


Mazda MX-5 Le Mans 

Also coming from the 1990s, the MX-5 Le Mans is, if anything, evidence that Mazda was nowhere near as shy when it came to celebrating its achievements. This thing is a MX-5 that’s had the striking green and orange Renown livery of the 1991 Le Mans-winning 787B just straight up plastered across it. There’s no mistaking a Le Mans with a look that’ll have most supercars shrinking into obscurity when sat alongside. The special edition also gets its own body kit, a Moto steering wheel, OZ wheels, and a BBR turbo kit. A certified weapon.


Audi RS 6 GT

If you thought shamelessness was the preserve of the 1990s, the Germans of all people are here to prove you wrong. The first recent entry on the list of crazy motorsport liveries on road cars, is Audi, with the bombastic RS 6 GT. Though optional, the GT can be had in a jaw-dropping 90 IMSA GTO-inspired Audi Sport livery. Is it quite accurate to the race car by which it’s inspired? Is the production version as bold as the concept? No… But, the colour scheme is utterly unmistakable and for an Audi estate, it’s positively outlandish. Just 60 of these are coming to the UK. 


Porsche 911 Dakar Safari 1978

The 911 Dakar is perhaps the obvious choice, but is yet more evidence of the Germans loving a crazy race livery on their road cars these days. There are a number of spectacular choices, but out of personal preference, we’d take one of the Safari Rally liveries – probably the 1971. For the sake of being eye-catching, the Martini-spec 1978 is pictured, with those glorious billowing Martini red, white, and blue colours. Of course, you already know what the Dakar is by now. Take a 911 GTS, jack it up, stick knobbly tyres and some toughened-up bodywork on it an hey presto, the most versatile sportscar in the world gets even more capable. What a cool thing, especially in a historical livery.


Lotus Essex Turbo Esprit

Ever the contrarians, we’re going to say that when it comes to F1-inspired Esprits, it’s the Essex that’s cooler than the JPS. The blue, red, and chrome livery borrowed from the race cars is just pure ‘80s awesome.

It also had more bite to back up the Bravado, with a nice big Garrett turbo among other supporting mods boosting this special model up to 213PS (157kW). It was capable of scrambling to 60mph in 6.1 seconds on the way to a 150mph top speed. Not half bad for the 1980s. Another mark in favour of the Essex Turbo? It’s really rather rare, with less than 50 of the original 100-car run Lotus intended to build made.


Ford GT Heritage Ken Miles

Ford, alongside Porsche, are arguably the masters of this stuff, especially when it comes to the Ford GT. Both the mid-2000s car and the latest supercar were available with numerous heritage liveries, from the classic Gulf colours, to tributes to the prototypes, to Alan Mann and more. Our selection? The tribute to Ken Miles’ 1966 Daytona 24 Hours win, in white, red, and black with the essential #98 on the side. Just 40 were made across 2021 and 2022. Alongside numerous other Heritage cars, we think this one best suits the contemporary design of the modern Ford GT.

So, those are our favourite race-inspired liveries on road cars. Are there any we’ve missed you think we should have included? Let us know. And don’t miss the Maserati Leggenda at the 2024 Festival of Speed.

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  • BMW

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  • Lotus

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  • Ford

  • GT

  • Heritage

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