So How Did The British Settle On British Racing Green?
It was a brisk winter day as Doctor Crankshaft stopped by Chester's Auto Paint Equipment Supply Shop. Chester's is the only paint supply shop in town, but he carries good quality stuff at a reasonable price.
"Hey, Doc, how're you doin'?" asked Chester.
"Can't complain," replied Doc. "I need to get some replacement filters for my respirator. You got any in stock?"
"Sure...I'll get them for you, how many you want?"
"Give me a couple of sets and throw in a box of dust masks," said Doc.
Just as Chester dissappeared into the shelves, Dabney walked in.
"Hi Doc," said Dabney.
"Hi Dab, ole boy. How are you?" Doc said.
"Ok. I'm here to see about getting some British Racing Green paint for my MG. It looks pretty good on my '54 Jag XK 120, I thought I'd use it on the MG, too.
"It's a great looking color. You know that Healeys, Jags, Rolls Royce's, Bentleys and all other cars made in England have, at some time or other, been painted a version of British Racing Green and no two of which have been exactly the same shade or tone," said Doc.
"Yeah," agreed Dabney. "I did a little research on the paint and tried to find out where the British Racing Green color originated. I've heard all sorts of stories over the years, but when pressed for details they all seem to fall apart. All I can surmise is that the color dates way, way back"
"Hey Chester!" Dabney called to Chester who was still back in the shelves. "Where'd British Racing Green come from?"
"Not really sure about that," Chester said. "Doc probably knows, ask him."
"Yep! Sure do," offered the Doctor.
"You're kidding!" exclaimed Dabney. "I've been to many car shows, some of which were devoted strictly to British cars, and no one has ever been able to authoritatively give the origin of British Racing Green. And you knew it all along?"
"Tell you what, Dab, if you can talk Chester into pouring us a cup of that coffee over there, I'll tell you the story," said Doc with a wink.
"No problem, Doc," said Chester. "It wouldn't hurt for me to know this, too." Chester pulled three cups off the shelf and started pouring coffee as Doc started.
"As you all know, I spent some time in England after World War II. Being an automobile fanatic, I found myself always at the race tracks and rally routes on weekends. I met a nice fellow named Charles Jarrott on one of these occasions. He was an old man at the time, but still very healthy and, in fact, driving one of his old race cars in a vintage event."
"You mean they had vintage racing events back in the 1940s?' asked Dabney.
"They did, and don't forget the London to Brighton event that's still held today and only allows cars manufactured before 1910," answered the Doctor. "But I digress..."
"Mr. Jarrott told me the story of buying a Panhard car for the Paris-Berlin race of 1901," said the Doctor, "When he collected the car in France he found it was painted, in his words, 'a beautiful dark green,' and wondered why the other French drivers hadn't adopted the same color for their team."
"Of course, Doc," interrupted Dabney, "the French would have painted their cars in their national flag colors, right?"
"No," said the Doctor, "back then the drivers painted their cars in whatever colors they wanted. But to get back to the story..."
"Mr. Jarrott asked the seller of the Panhard why it was painted green. The owner, a M. Clement, explained that the entry number of the car was 13, considered unlucky by most drivers. To counteract the 'bad luck,' the car was painted the dark green, a color considered 'lucky' by the French.
"Mr. Jarrott then told me that the other British drivers, S. F. Edge and Sir Rolls himself, liked the color so much that they painted their cars (a Napier and a Mors) the same color. All three British drivers entered the race in what they called 'British Racing Green,' and the color was soon 'frozen' by the International Racing Body.
"The French ended up choosing blue, the Italians red, and the rest is history..."
"I'm glad it worked out that way," said Dabney.
"Why's that, Dabney?" asked Doc."
"I don't know, but for some reason or other 'French Racing Green' just doesn't sound right," Dabney said.