Journal: It’s Important to Earn Your Stripes

It’s Important to Earn Your Stripes

By Michael Banovsky
May 29, 2015
12 comments

I prefer my vehicles on the modest side of subdued, and picked the grey metallic—grigio—paint for my 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth. At the time, the only one available with the options I wanted also had black side stripes—which I had the dealer remove before taking delivery.

Why? I don’t deserve stripes, and you may not, either.

Long the easiest thing you could do to a car to give it a more racy look, stripes have adored just about every type of sporty car for decades. Some combinations, of course, are more iconic than others: white stripes on a blue Shelby Cobra, or the orange stripe that runs down traditional Gulf-liveried cars.

I have nothing against racing cars having stripes, of course, but once a car rolls onto the street it’s another thing entirely. Were they put there by the factory? Were they period-correct? Are they ugly? Most of the time, I just can’t understand the appeal of having stripes on a road car. What’s the point in drawing more attention to yourself?

Interestingly, when going back through my vacation photos last year, I noticed something strange. In the images I took at Tsukuba Circuit in Japan during a classic car meet, there were very few road cars that had racing stripes—certainly fewer than you’d see at your local car meets, that’s for sure. (The other photos here were taken at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.)

Even the striped examples—including the orange and white Isuzu Bellett 1600 GTs—were subdued to the point of near-invisibility. And then I take one look outside…yup, there goes a yellow Chevrolet Camaro V6 Convertible wearing black stripes. Ugh.

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Jeff
Jeff
5 years ago

Wow…..I’d sure love to spend an afternoon with this turd discussing how annoying everything is……what a pile of garbage that article was. By the the way, it is “adorned” not “adored”.

…..and no, none of my cars have stripes.

Rich
Rich
5 years ago

Gray car, beige personality.

Marcelo
Marcelo
7 years ago

I can empathize with the idea of a low profile performance car, I do believe that a performance oriented car (or driver…) should have other priorities than stripes, and I certainly don´t like stripes as a mere esthetical statement on ordinary cars… But despite all of my preferences, the idea that someone (or car…) should earn the right of having stripes sounds like a huge overestimation of a few lines painted on a hood… After all, it just stripes.

XTad
XTad
7 years ago

Stripes should be matter of taste not opinion…

Edward Levin
Edward Levin
7 years ago

With all due respect, let’s be honest here. This has nothing to do with “earning” stripes; it’s just that you don’t like them aesthetically on street cars. Because you pose the question, “Were they put there by the factory? ” but it turns out that doesn’t really matter to you; you had the dealer remove the factory stripes on your 500 Abarth.

That’s perfectly fine, of course; it’s pointless to argue taste. And personally, I wouldn’t slap random, non-original stripes on a car. But I run one with factory stripes, which were painted on; they’re a characteristic of this particular homologation special. To suggest the car “didn’t earn them, because no street car possibly could” strikes me as a bit arrogant.

Because if you don’t distinguish between owner-added stripes and original factory ones, then you’re merely posing a subjective aesthetics question (“Are they ugly?”) or betraying your personal predilections (“What’s the point in drawing more attention to yourself?”). Again, perfectly fine. But that doesn’t turn it into a moral question of “earning” stripes.

HSW
HSW
7 years ago

I don’t get it the point. It is like you are telling me that I can’t have ketchup on my hamburger.

Christopher Gay
Christopher Gay
7 years ago

In college I drove a ’65 Mustang GT. The stripes distinguished a true factory GT from the rest. They were part of the design of the model, and you could be assured there was a Hi-Po 289, factory disc brakes, and twice pipes through the rear, etc. I really never gave much thought to the stripes, however. I was more interested in driving and mechanics.

My parent used to shuttle me to school in a ’69 AMX. That car also had very pronounced stripes. That’s how the cars came. You wouldn’t expect it to be any other way. Earned? Not sure what you mean buy that. Does blowing off 427 Cobras equate to “earning” your stripes? Done.

Call me Old School, I guess, but the stripes weren’t the focus of the cars. They just happened to be there.

Douglas Anderson
Douglas Anderson
7 years ago

Stripes/decals/wraps/affected spoilers and fart can exhausts make me want to puke.:p
If you have street cred you have it , if you need to boost your ego with all that affected crap , face it ;YOU SUCK !
If you can drive ( and have the car) take it to the local track for a day and learn your limits. Save the stripes and all that nonsense for car shows, I’m sure the ladies will be impressed 😉

Dennis White
Dennis White
7 years ago

Earn? What is this, the military? Stripes are just fun and The Mouse wears its proudly on the track and street!

Aaron Sacks
Aaron Sacks
7 years ago

You say you didn’t earn stripes, I can appreciate that sentiment.

But what must one do to earn stripes on a road car? Why is it different than on a racecar? Do you just not like stripes on cars or is there something more existential that I am missing here?

Sid Widmer
Sid Widmer
7 years ago

I could follow your train of thought and say you don’t deserve a sports car if you can’t drive. Do you really deserve that 911? My personal conviction is I don’t advertise more performance than I can deliver but I really don’t care to be an aesthetic nazi and set myself up as some kind of measuring rod for how people can express themselves with their vehicles. Don’t be that guy.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger
7 years ago

Pardon me for saying this but I’m not quite sure I’m grasping the point of this article . Though I’m in agreement as far as my own personal vehicles are concerned stripes have been a part of road car trim for many many decades worldwide . Japan may be the exception currently but then again Japan’s culture and ours are polar opposites ( for the record Japanese even hear music differently than we in the West do ) and over the years they’ve had some pretty outrageous trends themselves such as the whole Bosozoku movement that makes a plethora of stripes in neon look good in comparison . Like I said though MB . I’m all in on the No Stripes edict when it comes to my cars . But as for others ? As long as its done in good taste I can live with it .

As an addendum/ minor suggestion if I may . An article on the origins of stripes placed/painted on road cars could prove fascinating . I’d bet it’d take a lot of research considering how far back you’d have to go but I’d certainly be the first in line to read it