The Top 25 F1 Liveries of All Time : #1

Ladies and gentlemen, a drumroll please…


The clues were there, if you were paying attention. Indeed, some of you guessed it (not all of you – some were convinced that a Rothmans Williams or a blue Tyrrell was going to be in there). I like green cars. I like cars with blue on them. I like cars with smart, clean use of sponsor logos. I like cars whose lines flow well with the shape of the chassis. I like cars with an inherent sense of charm or individuality. And my favourite era of F1 is the early ’90s. With that in mind… was there any great surprise that this site’s Top F1 Livery of All Time would be the 1991 Jordan-Ford 191?

Whatever way you look at it, this car is A-grade, absolute classic. Even leaving the livery aside for a moment, the machine itself is beautifully sculpted, strangely tubular in a way that few cars of its era were; and Gary Anderson’s design showed a maverick flair that a brand new privateer team had simply no right flaunting. But then, Jordan apparently had the right to do very little of what they achieved in that amazing year – tearing up the form book by coming into the sport and being a points-scoring competitor from day one. An incredible seventh-place finish in the constructors’ championship will – if you scale it down proportionally to the number of teams now competing, so that really it’s equivalent to about third or fourth in a 22-car grid – probably never be bettered by a completely untried team with absolutely no manufacturer or major sponsor support. And, of course, this was the car in which Michael Schumacher made an absolutely unforgettable debut at Spa.

But that’s the car – and we’re here to talk about the livery. Which is utterly beautiful – there’s simply no other word for it. The shade of emerald green was not only a perfect choice for the team’s visual identity (why oh why did it only last a year?), but looked great on camera as well. The flashes of lighter green, while you sense they’d look terrible in a greater quantity, are well-judged in order to break up any potential monotony of colour and give some lines to the livery. And the dark blue, separated from the green by a strip of white, matches perfectly. It’s simple, yes, but it’s completely effective – and once you’ve seen it, you never forget it. If there’s a flaw, it’s not even with the colour scheme, but with the driver’s uniforms – which were a more washed-out shade that simply looked naff. But hey, it was 1991.

Thanks to the red on the 7up logo, meanwhile (and that logo itself looks utterly marvellous on the engine cover and airbox), bits of red can be used elsewhere without seeming incongruous – and on the wing in particular, fit in nicely. You’ll note that there are two variants of sponsor on the sidepod – Fujifilm and, later, Tic Tac. The latter works better, I think, as the red of Fujifilm’s logo is less effective when surrounded by blue. But the Tic Tac logo looks like it was always meant to be there, though its lingering in the memory is probably due, at least in part, to it being on Schumacher’s car.

It’s hardly a controversial choice, I think – I’ve seen people discussing the car in positive terms on many occasions. It’s one of those universally popular designs, like the West McLaren or the JPS Lotus. Others might not give it the top spot, but I doubt many would quibble with it at least being top five. As far as my own personal preference goes, it ticks just about every box going – it is, quite simply, the best an F1 car has ever looked, and probably ever will.

Embed from Getty Images



    February 19, 2008 at 1:54 am

    Good choice. And wholly unexpected at that. I was convinced number one was going to either the 1993 Footwork, 1992 Benetton (green sidepods please) Rothmans Williams, or on a longshot the 1997 Stewart.

    Well done though, even if the exclusion of Footwork was a little bit criminal.


    February 19, 2008 at 2:04 am

    That’s a very good point. The ’93 Footwork was a very cool looking car! I was expecting a Rothmans Williams and a B&H Jordan to pop up somewhere, but no.

    I think Stewart hit their high point with the ’99 car- I think the tartan ribbons looked cooler and it was a cleaner, simpler sponsor layout than earlier efforst. Plus the angled sidepod intakes totally rocked!

    I think this has been a great list, a great read and a great number 1!


    February 19, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    good choice! are you still planning to do a list of the worst liveries ever?


    February 19, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Great choice for number 1!

    Probably the best livery in the world (shame it wasn’t carslberg on the car instead of 7up!). The car looked amazing and the livery just made it so much better.

    As for the ’92 car, Sasol offered more dollars than Pepsi so they got the title sponsership. Although the ’94 Sasol car, didn’t look too bad.

    Any plans to let those who have followed the list submit our own favourites? Say our top three or top ten?


    February 19, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    The worst liveries of all time? That would be just as interesting I think!


    February 20, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    I can predict the 2007/2008 Renault and 2008 Force India to be high on such a list…


    February 20, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    I´m not a big fan of this one. The blue sidepods don´t go too well with the green in my opinion. The best green car is still the Jaguar to me.
    I´ll be expecting the worst liveries list.


    March 8, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    Nice looking car. Just you have such small pictures, I found sithe that has large pictures (inclouding Jordan 1991)

    And if I had to vote, my vote would go to F2005 or F2007!


    April 5, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    I would like to see some honorable mentions, particularly the Buzzin Hornets Jordan. Jordan F1 had the most interesting ways of getting around the tobacco sponsorship bans with the Bitten Hisses, Buzzin Hornets, Bitten Heroes, and Be On Edge. Oh well, they were always underdogs, anyway!

    Also, very surprised that the R23-26 Renault didn’t make the cut.


    June 20, 2008 at 1:40 am

    U must be joking. That’s nada. Gold Leaf team Lotus and JPS. Nothing compares to that.


    August 4, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Actually I think the current McLarens don’t look too bad (colour, not shape!). I remember their first “black and grey” livery in 1997 went down well. Jaguar has to be number 1 really though.


    September 9, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    YES YES YES. You couldn’t have got it more spot on. It is the best looking F1 car bar none. EVER. Even down to the steering wheel which had a shamrock above the MOMO logo. Beautiful design from start to finish. Pretty quick as well. It also gave one of the best drivers of all time his debut to.


    May 10, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Great choice…

    I always feel too much is made of the Schumacher link to this beautiful car – he only drove it in a few sessions at Spa before decamping to Benetton.

    Not enough is made about the sterling efforts of De Cesaris and Gachot throughout the early part of the season when they had to pre-qualify with the tail-end charlies…


    September 24, 2009 at 6:14 am

    Some great liveries didn’t make your list, cars like Arrows 1998/1999, Minardi 1997, Benetton 1992, Jordan 1997/1998, Honda 2005, BAR/Honda 2005/2006 etc 🙂

    enjoyed reading through the list!

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    May 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hi,this is really a nice shirt,I like the elegant style and the tones.bill


    May 17, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Thanks for sharing the information. I found the info incredibly helpful.


    November 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I much prefer the yellow jordans of 2003 but it is good to see my favourite team of all time win something. My favourite out of the 25 though is the orange arrows. A truly classic design.


    November 19, 2010 at 12:22 am

    The 7-Up Jordan was nice,but best of alltime you gotta be kidding.

    1) Any JPS Lotus,with black and gold returning in 2011
    2) Rothmans Williams-Renault 94-97
    3) The Marlboro McLaren of the 80s
    4) Most of the Benettons
    5) Renault works of 1985
    6) Benson & Hedges Jordan
    7) Gitanes Ligier
    8) Olivetti Brabham
    9) Renault Mild Seven
    10) Camel Lotus

    […] car needs no introduction – long-time readers of the site will already know that it’s my favourite Grand Prix livery of all time, so you can read my thoughts on it in a bit more detail in that link. A magnificent car, the J191 […]


    April 6, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    Nice looking car. Didn’t the team finish 5th in 1991 though, behind only McLaren, Williams, Ferrari and Benetton?


    January 22, 2017 at 7:14 am

    It’s a shame you deleted the general comment section of this article, I had made a top 25 of my favorites liveries here, it took me some time and it was the only place I’ve saved it…

      Seb Patrick

      January 22, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Ah, sorry about that – the page hasn’t been deleted, it’s just no longer on the index due to being superseded by the newer list! You can get to it here:

      At some point I’ll see if I can convert it into a normal post to slot into the sequence, and move the comments over. That way it’ll be a normal part of the indexes.


        January 23, 2017 at 5:59 am

        Ah cool thank you!


    June 9, 2017 at 7:52 pm

    IMHO best ever livery in F1 is British American Racing’s 555 livery on 2004 Chinese GP

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    August 22, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Orange Arrows livery circa 2000 should have been #1

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