PORSCHE’S 963 design honours historically significant motor racing hues and recognises the dual commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Porsche sports cars and the 100th year since the event’s first contest was held in France. Porsche is the most successful manufacturer at the world’s greatest endurance race, celebrating its centenary this year, with 19 overall victories and 110 class wins.
The three Porsche 963s competing in the Hypercar class at Le Mans are distinguished by seven contrasting stripes in the colours of yellow, red, dark blue, light blue, green, pink, and orange. They all pay tribute to outstanding and exceptional efforts made during the biggest and most illustrious long-distance race in history.
The Porsche 963’s orange stripes pay homage to the legendary Gulf look of the Porsche 917. The blue and orange racecar was driven by Steve McQueen, who played the role of Michael Delaney in the film Le Mans, which is still popular today and regarded as one of the best motor racing representations in history.
In 1971, the Porsche 917/20 showed up in a pink livery. Anatole Lapine, a Porsche designer, at that time, drew the butchers’ chops of pork on a pink basecoat. Endearing nicknames were quick to appear such as the “truffle sniffer from Zuffenhausen”, “Sau” (German for female pig) and Pink Pig. However, the meaty car underperformed in terms of sporting performance: when racing in fifth place, Kauhsen/Joest retired soon before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2018, a Porsche 911 RSR dressed in the “Pink Pig” style won the GTE class at the Sarthe.
Anatole Lapine made his first artistic mark in motorsport with the long-tail Porsche 917 driven by Gérard Larrousse and Willi Kauhsen. The green and purple waves painted on the “hippie” car with around 1,500 spray cans created a psychedelic effect. While the paintwork created some anxiety on the executive floor, racing team owner Hans-Dieter Dechent and his sponsor Martini & Rossi were overjoyed. The speedy “hippie” also created ripples in the motor racing scene. While Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood won the first overall victory for Porsche at Le Mans in 1970, Larrousse/Kauhsen finished second.
Hans-Dieter Dechent took his squad to Le Mans for the first time in 1970, with the Italian spirits brand Martini. Helmut Marko of Austria and Gijs van Lennep of the Netherlands won in the Martini Racing Porsche 917 KH. The duo broke a distance record that seemed unthinkable at the time: the 5,335 kilometres they travelled were thought to be a record for all time. The white Porsche with the eye-catching light blue, red, and dark blue stripes is still a cult favourite today.
The Rothmans design, with its dark blue and white highlights and red and gold embellishments, is connected with Porsche’s winning streak. The Porsche 962C with this livery finished first in the world’s most famous long-distance classic in 1986 and 1987. Porsche revived the legendary paint job at Le Mans about 30 years later. The Porsche 911 RSR with the Rothmans appearance set a new qualifying record for GTE cars in 2018. The vehicle finished second in its class, trailing its sister car in the “Pink Pig” livery.
After nearly losing out on Porsche’s maiden overall victory with a 908 LH at the introduction of the 917 at Le Mans, the sports car manufacturer from Zuffenhausen doubled down in the 1970 season. The goal was to launch a full-on assault with three vehicles from John Wyer’s new works squad, as well as others registered under Porsche Salzburg. These cars flew Austria’s national colours of red and white.
The centrally placed yellow stripe with a red border was inspired by Porsche and Penske’s successful past. The relationship between the US squad and the Stuttgart-based sports car manufacturer bore fruit in the early 1970s. Even more stunning were the performances of the Porsche RS Spyder in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) kitted out in the yellow and red livery of its primary sponsor DHL.
So there you have it, the stories behind each colour. It’s not just a bunch of colourful stripes slapped on because Porsche takes everything into detail.