Have You Ever Wondered Why Your Corvette is Red?

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To find out why red is the preferred color, you have to go all the way back to 1907. Maybe further. Donut Media gets the answers. 

If you trace the lineage of red paint all the way back to the beginning of cars, you’ll find that red has been ascribed a certain sense of speed and danger thanks to over a century of collective memory and ingrained psychology. But how did red become synonymous with sports cars?

“To me, red means fast. It’s the quintessential color of a sports car.” According to Nolan Sykes from Donut Media, they’ve traced the origin back to the 1907 Peking to Paris rally, and that race’s victor. The race was won by a 7.5-liter 45-horsepower Itala Mod. 35/45hp , painted bright red. Not only was the color bright and appropriate for being spotted over long distances, that color was actually among the less expensive pigments to purchase in large quantity at the time. The race sounds like it was fantastic, and quite a close finish, as Sykes says, “over 9000 miles, over two months, the margin of victory was decided by sixty minutes.”

“Thanks to psychology baked into our subconscious, and a collective memory of our past. It’s the ultimate color for the ultimate car.”

So, yes. The reason red is equated to sports cars is because of the Italians over 110 years ago. Because of that race win, the color red was ascribed to Italy as their national racing color, and that carries on through to today. You’ll notice that Ferrari’s Formula 1 cars still race in Rosso Corsa colors. It’s odd, then, that American sports cars like the Viper and the Corvette are associated closely with the color red as well. Maybe there’s more to it?

The video dives into the history of the color itself, going all the way back to cave paintings of dangerous animals done up in red. Red is the subconscious color of danger, or love, or sexiness. There are a lot of connotations to the color red, and most likely manufacturers want to play up that series of feelings. Sykes sums it up, “Thanks to psychology baked into our subconscious, and a collective memory of our past. It’s the ultimate color for the ultimate car.” Well said.

Bradley Brownell is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and 6SpeedOnline, among other auto sites.

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