Many people express their individuality through their automobile. Apart from make, model and performance, color is an important factor, and red has always been a classic, sporty choice. In the young adult book The Red Car by Don Stanford, a teen boy falls in love with a little red sports car, a story that car lovers around the world can easily connect with.
Why do we love red? The color represents energy, excitement, and speed, and it’s one of the first colors the human eye can see. In China, red means good luck and prosperity. Ancient Egyptians equated red with victory. In the Russian language, the word for red has the same Slavic roots as the word for beautiful. Sporty red cars certainly bring all of these associations to mind: energy, speed, prosperity, victory, beauty, and more.
In 1914, Ford began producing the Model T in “any color so long as it is black,” but before that, the cars were available in red, blue, green, or gray. Imagine motoring along in a red Model T in the early 1900s. You’d be going at most 7 mph–the speed limit for most American cities at the time. A flagman would accompany you and your red car to warn everyone that a horseless carriage was coming. The sight would certainly draw attention.
Even as the popularity and availability of paint colors has changed, red has maintained itself as a color of choice in the sporting class throughout automotive history. Two-tone colors became popular in the 1920s with a strong resurgence in the 1950s, and this red and white 1957 Ford Thunderbird is a stunning reminder of that era in automotive style.
But perhaps the most iconic red is that of Italian race cars – including Ferrari. Beginning in the 1920s, “rossa corsa” (racing red) has been the national racing color of Italy. Although sponsorship eventually ended the color-country connection in racing, red had become an important part of the Ferrari history and brand. This red Ferrari from 1980 exudes excitement without moving a wheel.
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a red car yourself, come by the Skinner Marlborough gallery on October 31 from 12 to 7 PM or November 1st from 8 to 9:30 AM to see the two red cars being offered in the November 1st auction.