Top Gear’s Top 9: best go-faster stripes

By topgear, 04 April 2021


As time passes, the BMW 3.0 CSL seems to only get more and more outrageous. Heck knows what people made of it in 1972, when the touring car homologation special first took to the streets. 

Of course, the aero kit was an eyeful. And no doubt, packing 200 horsepower behind that impossibly pretty nose started to put BMW on the map when it came to rapid sedan cars. But here, we’re just here to celebrate the wraparound tricolour stripes.

They alone made the Batmobile more ‘Seventies’ than Noddy Holder riding a Raleigh Chopper in platform shoes and gold flares. Ask your parents. 

Ferrari 360 CS

To stripe or not to stripe? Let the argument rage until the Sun explodes and devours the Earth. Ferrari’s ‘Challenge Stradale’ was in effect a street-legal version of the 360 Challenge racecar, so painting a thick white line over the top of the hardcore V8 special did at least have a dash of track-borne pedigree.

(Click HERE to read about the time we drove the Challenge Stradale, 430 Scuderia and 458 Speciale)

Naturally, you had to pay extra for it – just like any striped Ferrari since. 

Renault 8 Gordini

Meanwhile in France, Renault was busy building its own go-faster family saloon complete with a set of stripes that deserve hall of fame status. The Renault 8 Gordini – named after a Renault tuner which eventually went in-house and morphed into today’s Renault Sport division – had almost twice the power of the standard Renault 8. 

Beyond the 1.1-litre 90bhp powerplant, the Gordini was marked out by its uprated suspension, enlarged headlights, and well, the white stripes. They should’ve called it Blue Orchid. 

Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1

Our American cousins don’t have a monopoly on Fords that wear racing stripes with distinction, y’know. The Lotus Cortina was a whole heap more than just a splash of green and some Colin Chapman-approved badges. 

With 105bhp of re-bored twin-cam engine doing the business up front, seriously revised suspension, lighter bodywork, a close-ratio gearbox and beefier brakes, the Cortina was the must-have sports sedan – and a decorated touring car – in the 1960s. Bet it would’ve been rubbish without the wraparound stripe. 

Dodge Viper SRT-10 ACR

Good on Dodge for trying to morph the fairly heavy, quite terrifying Viper into a focused, scalpel-sharp track day weapon. In fact, Dodge did more than try: it succeeded. 

Long before it got bored of corners and set about making drag-race heroes like the Hellcat and Demon, the V10 Viper ACR actually broke the Laguna Seca lap record for a road-legal car with this wingshod special.

Most of that lap time came from the paint job, obviously. Those offset colour-contrast stripes add a dash more menace to a car that already looks like pure evil with door mirrors. 

Ford GT

Some cars are infamously colour sensitive. Some provoke fierce debate over the application of a GFS (go-faster stripe). But with the latest Ford GT, we’re still not quite sure.

Does the Le Mans class-winning V6 spaceship wear twin speed lines quite as handsomely as the 2005 V8 Ford GT – or the classic Sixties GT40? This GT Heritage Edition certainly isn’t shy about it.

Shelby GT350

Mind you, the GT is far from being the only Ford proudly decked out in stripetastic liveries over the years. A Mustang GT350 – whether the latest version or the iconic original – would somehow look naked without them.

Plus, having brightly-coloured paint daubed over the top is a really useful safety feature when one of these things decides to depart a Sunday morning car meet in an exuberant fashion. Stand back…

Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda

One of the best-looking and certainly among the greatest named pony cars of all time, Plymouth’s early Seventies’ ‘Cudas also sported an exquisite collection of stripe options. There were solid stripes, staggered stripes, thin stripes and huge wing-covering megastripes. You couldn’t go wrong.

Until you got to a corner. Where a 7.0-litre V8 up front and an optimistic right foot would ensure things could go very wrong very quickly indeed. 

Jeff Koons' BMW M3 GT2 Art Car

If you’re not aware of the rich tradition that is BMW’s masterpiece collection of art cars, then tap on these blue words and give your eyes a real treat. This 2010 M3 GT2 became the canvas for American artist Jeff Koons, who used All the Colours in this paint factory explosion to give us this king among striped liveries.

In his own words, “These racing cars are like life, they are bursting with power. My design is meant to represent the energy of the BMW M3 GT2.” Job done. 

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