The colour orange has been used sparingly in Formula 1, but more often than not, it’s provided some iconic liveries. McLaren in the 70s and their throwback test liveries, the Orange Arrows at the turn of the century, even the short lived Spyker team. I couldn’t pick a favourite orange car, but one that I remember very fondly is the 1975 March 751. I’ll include the 761 too!
There is just a great combination about the 751 of things that make this car memorable to me. The strong, bright Orange colour, a great looking sponsor in Beta Tools and two memorable drivers in Vittorio Brambilla and Lella Lombardi. Say any of those things out loud and they just roll of the tongue too. Just saying Vittorio Brambilla the Monza Gorilla is good fun. The March team did have some very distinctive liveries, but I can’t think of March without thinking of Beta, and the unique shape of that chasis.
So…liveries! This is a situation where simplicity is king. What makes this livery stand out is the vibrant orange colour used (which Brambilla’s helmet is so painfully close to matching perfectly) and the wonderful match the black Beta logo is for it. It is a very simple logo, but one that stands out perfectly on the orange background. The Italian flag design in front of the cockpit is very patriotic, but is probably my least favourite element of the livery. The spanner incorporated into it, however, looks great and makes the Beta logo look so complete.
The unpainted metal finish on the rear wing is a great design/cost cutting decision in my opinion. An orange wing may well have tipped the livery toward boring, but it breaks up the monotony well and adds a bit of contrast in an equally simple and effective way. Perhaps a black wing could have looked a little bit nicer, and matched the Beta logo better, but the unpainted wing is still a great look and something so unique to the cars of the mid 20th century, making it nostalgic and timeless. Nostalgic too are the numbers. The classic white circle on the front and white square on the side are fantastic and it was nice to see them return through Williams and especially Mercedes a few years ago.
However, the car wasn’t just good looking, it had a bit of pace too. Although it was terribly unreliable, in the hands of Brambilla (when he finished) it was mostly in the points and he even took it to the top step of the podium, scoring the sole win of his career in atrocious conditions in Austria. Lombardi too scored points that season (well half of one), the only woman to do so in the sport.