Both the very first Prancing Horse car, the 125 S, and the 125 F1 which took to the track in the Monaco Grand Prix on 21 May 1950, were a burgundy colour. This dark red hue was the official colour of all Italian racing cars from the beginning of the 20th century – and in fact, the two Scuderia Ferrari SF1000s that contested our 1000th Formula 1 Grand Prix in 2020 sported a special colour that was a faithful reproduction of those early cars.
After sponsor-inspired liveries were introduced to Formula 1 in the 1960s, Ferrari remained the only constructor to stick with tradition and continue to clothe its single-seaters exclusively in the classic red. Consequently, our road cars were identified with that colour thereafter.
Red was seen as the almost obligatory colour choice for clients, with 85% of all Ferraris built in the early 1990s sporting red liveries. That dynamic has now changed, as clients choose from a vast range of colours. Nonetheless, traditional red continues to predominate for around half of client orders, be it from Ferrari’s customary palette, or as unique colours created with the Tailor Made programme.
Today, nine distinct red hues are available to clients through Ferrari’s configurator before they explore creating their own unique paint. Together, these colours, with their history and evolution, have become signatures of the Prancing Horse’s road and competition models.
Most famous and most popular is Rosso Corsa, often seen as the identifying colour of a Ferrari. It has even been fired into space, in a specially constructed capsule aboard the European Space Agency’s 2003 Mars Express Mission to the Red Planet (after undergoing a series of rigorous mechanical and thermal tests to ensure it would withstand the extreme conditions encountered, of course).
Rosso Corsa is a pastel red, defined and lively, while closely related but a lighter shade is Rosso Scuderia, an historic colour used by our Formula 1 team. Equally entrenched in our past is Rosso Dino, the launch colour of the Dino 206 GT and one which hints toward the orange side of red.
Contemporary developments offer the client an expanded choice, and have often been launched in collaboration with a new Ferrari model. Rosso California and Rosso Portofino, for instance, are complex metallics, and belong to this new generation of colours.
Progress allows our historical shades to develop, too. Rosso Corsa Met, launched with the 488 GTB in 2015, represents an alternative to Rosso Corsa, with a delicate metallic tint becoming perceptible with lighting. Created to celebrate Ferrari’s 70th birthday in 2017, Rosso 70 Anni was first seen on the 812 Superfast, and showcases a pastel colour with strong depth to link indelibly to our past.
Of course, it is not just the colours themselves that Ferrari continues to innovate. Thanks to the ongoing collaboration with paint supplier PPG, Ferrari introduced an innovative low-temperature paint system in 2018, making the Prancing Horse the world’s first car manufacturer to adopt the new Low Cure clear coats technology. A specially formulated clear coat makes it possible for the car to be baked at 100 degrees instead of 150 degrees, thereby cutting energy usage.
This move further underscored Ferrari’s ongoing commitment to the pursuit of both excellence and sustainability. In 2004, it became one of the first companies in the world to introduce a water-based paint system which significantly lowered the environmental impact of its cars.
Such continuous advancement, together with the highest attention to detail during the painting process in Maranello, ensures the finished product is a luminous work of art. Whichever colour a client chooses, red or otherwise.