Here's Why David Piper Raced Green Ferraris

Here's Why David Piper Raced Green Ferraris

You may not know David Piper, but you probably know his famous green Ferraris.

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Born in 1930 in the United Kingdom, David Piper is one of the most legendary figures in Ferrari’s history. Although he competed in only three Formula 1 races, Piper is most known for his success as a privateer. A privateer is someone who races solely for the joy of competition and is often not officially supported by the manufacturer.

Once he started as a privateer, Piper primarily competed in sports car competitions with mixed results. Once of his best finishes was during the 1969 Spa-Francorchamps 1000 km. He drove a Ferrari 312 P (s/n 0870) with Mexican driver Pedro Rodriguez to place 2nd overall.

Ferrari 312 P sn0870

Legendary drivers such as Mike Salmon, Pedro Rodriguez, and Mario Andretti worked with Piper and competed in various endurance races all over the world. Apart from Ferraris, Piper also entered various cars from Porsche, Lotus and Lola. And when Piper entered Ford GT40s into a few races, Enzo must not have been too happy.

Why green?

David Piper Ferrari 250 LM

For Piper, the colour was all about sponsorship. Before painting his cars green, Piper got his fuel, oil and bonuses from ESSO. But the 1957 Suez Oil Crisis meant they could no longer back him. One oil company that was not very affected by the crisis was BP. Piper took interest in the British oil company’s green logo, and soon the two parties came to an agreement where Piper painted his cars green in exchange for BP sponsorship. The colour was called BP Green.

Even when the agreement expired, Piper still raced in green. In an interview with Petrolicious, he explains that he liked picking a colour and sticking with it. As a young boy, he worked on a farm and they used to paint the cars orange so other farmers could see them from their tractors.

It is believed that no one has owned and raced more competition Ferraris than David Piper. In an in-depth interview with Motorsport Magazine, he mentions owning six 250 GTOs and 250 LMs over the years.

Written by Max Lammers.


  • Alf Holzem

    I had the pleasure of meeting David Piper some 12 years ago at a vintage car event when he took out both his Ferrari P4 and the Porsche 917. A very personable gentleman, down to earth and happy to reminisce when I mentioned seeing him at the Nürburgring in the late 60s. Drivers like him are few and far between these days. May he have many more years in good health.

  • Hein Combrinck

    What a gentleman!I saw him in the 1962 9 Hour at Kyalami (after a cloud burst)Then I met him at a F1 GP at Kyalami in the early 90’s and thereafter at Zwartskops Pretoria on a few occations,(I got a nice photo where I stand next to Divid Piper)
    Surely in a class of his own! God bless you Mr Piper.
    Always prepared to chat a few words!

  • Ray Marsh

    Had the good fortune to to meet and produce acrylic screens for some of his cars in the early 90’s
    A great man, with beautiful cars in his workshop in Sunningdale, have good memories from that time.

  • Geoff Smailes

    David Piper made a legend of himself in South Africa, especially in the Kyalami 9 Hour races, usually in about November, in the 1960s. I last saw him competing in the David Piper Classic in Killarney (Cape Town), in his green 917, not so many years ago, when he was well into his 80s. And all this, with his right leg missing below the knee ! I am pleased to read that, at 91, DP has survived this far and even outlived so many better-known legends !

  • David Fidgeon

    David Piper is the complete English gentleman and keen competitor. As a lad I followed the exploits of the green Ferraris and later in life worked as part of his team for about 30 years. Don’t forget he was the first man to race a Porsche 917 when the works drivers stuck to their 908s. A true motor racing legend !

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