Hooniverse Asks – Black History Month, What’s The Best John Player Special Car?

If, in the ’70s, you happened to be a smoker, you’re most likely dead by now. However, had you dodged that bullet and beaten the odds, maybe you’re still with us. In that case, had you happened to spend the disco days on the Continent, you likely chose JPS as your cancer stick of choice. Not only did that 183 year-old maker of pure smoking enjoyment provide black and gold boxes of their product as bar top enticements of the preferred lifestyle, but they also lent their name and color coordination to automakers for special editions.
Back then, smoking was looked upon with furrowed brows rather than the wide eyed shock of today, and advertising cigarettes wasn’t equated to clubbing seals in the eyes of non-smokers. Also back then, John Player Special color schemes were employed by a number of car makers – okay, three.
So, out of those – and across all their models – which is your favorite JPS model? Black and gold, ebony fields broken only by lines the color of Jenny Agutter’s hair (those of your of a certain age know what I’m talking about) there’s a ’70s vibe to the John Player Specials, and each one is unique in its presentation. But which one  do you like the best?
Image source: [zigasm.com]

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  1. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

    I must get this in here quickly:
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Mk_II_Capri_jps_2000.jpg&quot; width=400>
    If you rocked one of these in Essex you were da man. King of the council estate, Lord of the working-mans club.
    I always had a thing for black and gold, I remember completely bastardising murdering out one of my R/C cars to achieve this look. I failed.

    1. Alff Avatar

      If you rock one today, you're … Russell Brand.

  2. hwyengr Avatar

    SInce I didn't know any other car but the Europa came in a JPS version, I'll use that as my favorite.

    1. engineerd Avatar

      I agree!
      <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/2908055341_c3ca9a91b3.jpg&quot; width="500" height="333" alt="1973 Lotus Europa JPS" />
      I think pretty much every Lotus came in a JPS livery.

      1. Alff Avatar

        Ditto. These are my favorites, too. Back in the day they were widely reviled. Should have bought one then, or more likely convinced my Dad to.

      2. dukeisduke Avatar

        I can remember seeing a JPS Europa when I was a kid (when they were new), and I was in awe. I thought the Europa was cool to begin with, but the black-and-gold just jacked it up to a whole new level.

  3. P161911 Avatar

    I'm partial to Mario Andretti's 1979 Lotus Esprit. It was given to him for winning the championship in '78.
    <img src="http://www.remarkablecars.com/ppads/data/416/1979-lotus-0011.jpg"width=500&gt;

  4. Alff Avatar

    JPS, now with less euro weaksauce…
    <img src="http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5090/5301000236_46810fdcb8.jpg"width=500&gt;

  5. engineerd Avatar

    I did not know the Trans Am Mustang had JPS livery.
    <img width=500 src="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antsphoto/5301000236/in/pool-601079@N20/"&gt;

    1. Alff Avatar

      Jinx … you owe me a Coke.

  6. FЯeeMan Avatar

    <img src="http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/autosportinternational_lotu.jpg&quot; width="500">
    This one is Ronnie Peterson's Lotus 72, but Emerson Fittipaldi also drove one in 1970 after Jochen Rindt died in one during practice at Monza.
    Image Credit: <a href="http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk” target=”_blank”>http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk

    1. scroggzilla Avatar

      Tough to argue against the 72……so, I won't.
      <img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4151/4998815291_d9a6fb4fb5.jpg&quot; width="500" height="296" alt="73 spanish gp fittipaldi lotus" />

      1. FЯeeMan Avatar

        I like your picture better…

    2. FЯeeMan Avatar

      There's also this:
      <img src="http://circa71.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/10-greatest-pontiacs.jpg"&gt;
      but they're somewhat different genres…
      Image Credit: circa71.wordpress.com

    3. FЯeeMan Avatar

      reading comprehension fail…
      Rindt died in Monza in 70 in a 72, Peterson didn't join Lotus until 73 in the 72, which was replaced by the 76 in 74 but Ronnie didn't like it so in 74 he stuck with the 72.

  7. mdharrell Avatar

    So it's still up to me to put in a good word for the Sinclair C5, then, eh? Fine.
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3650/3580470297_e599efbab0.jpg&quot; width="400">
    The frame was designed by Lotus! Ayrton Senna drove/rode/pedaled one at least once! It's street-legal in Britain! Yay!

    1. Alff Avatar

      The Sinclair ZX80 had more power.

  8. $kaycog Avatar

    I thought this was really a great picture, but unfortunately the site, OctaneCulture, is under construction, so I have no idea who this gentleman is. Does anybody know?
    <img src="http://octaneculture.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/fealing_so_fly_like_a_gprix.jpg"width="500"/&gt;

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      That's Colin Chapman.

      1. $kaycog Avatar


    2. P161911 Avatar

      I love the tail number. G-PR1X. In the US tail numbers have to start with N, in the UK it is G. I know that one of Nike's private jets has tail number N-1KE.

      1. $kaycog Avatar

        Interesting…..I didn't know that.

      2. Rust-MyEnemy Avatar

        There are some cool vanity registrations over here, too. G-LIDE is a Piper PA-31-350. G-LUGG is a Colt 21a baloon (in the shape of a beverage). And many, many more.

    3. Alff Avatar


    1. dmilligan Avatar

      Also, I was a smoker in the '70s and I'm still alive, and still smoking. So fuck you.

  9. B72 Avatar

    Often Western European surnames have something to do with the families occupation. Smith, Taylor, Shepard all being examples. What I want to know is – what exactly did John's forebears do for a living?

    1. 2stroke4life Avatar

      They made wooden barrels.

      1. B72 Avatar

        A John Player Cooper would have been interesting!

  10. dead_elvis Avatar

    A slightly different, and more recent iteration*:
    <img src="http://dalefranks.com/cycles/wp-content/uploads/Norton-F1-91-4.jpg"&gt;
    (Would be much sexier with a round headlight, though.)
    A better JP two-wheel livery:
    <img src="http://vroum52.com/mcl.img/norton-john_player_special%5B1974.jpg"&gt;
    *Yes, I know it said "car" up top… just wanted to wave my two-wheeled freak flag. Tanshanomi, a little backup here?

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Everyone! Close your eyes; you're getting sleepy. Relax. Now repeat after me: "Today is Tuesday…Today is Tuesday…."
      And, yes, that shot's worthy of flying your freak flag over.

  11. tiberiusẅisë Avatar

    Any love for the Black Magic?
    <img src="http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQh_A1Fggy1e7mHiJFCNoLBxemN17sDDzgS8VajL_oRWNqK3bsdZA&quot; width="400">

  12. earlofhalflight Avatar

    My favourite has been done so here's an honourable mention.
    <img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1177/1301824160_f72fe617df.jpg?v=0"&gt;

    1. Black Steelies Avatar

      Anything e24 is win enough for me.

    2. Alff Avatar

      What kind of fool races a 6-series?

      1. earlofhalflight Avatar

        Former World Champion Denny Hulme and multiple Australian Touring Car Champion Peter Brock, that's who!
        Jim Richards won the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1985 in a sister car to this.

        1. Alff Avatar

          Yeah, I wasn't really aiming at those guys… http://hooniverse.info/2011/01/21/the-uberbird-fli

          1. earlofhalflight Avatar

            Ah, got it now. 🙂

  13. Black Steelies Avatar

    Do I win? OK it's not a car but scotch and driving go together like, er…
    <img src="http://www.advisory.com.mk/images/JPS1L07L.jpg"&gt;

  14. Beer_Rover Avatar

    Too late for Mario's Type 77, so how about a type 78.
    This was the original ground effects car, complete with side skirts.
    <img src="http://www.autoracing1.com/Images/Historic/Big/1221AndrettiBelgianGP78a.jpg"/ height="400" width="600">

    1. Beer_Rover Avatar

      OK. So the previous image is actually his Type type 79 from the 1978 Belgian GP.
      Here's Mario's Type 78 from the 1977 U.S. GP.
      <img src="http://www.034motorsport.com/articles/2008/super-lap-battle/05.jpg"/&gt;

      1. FЯeeMan Avatar

        heh… glad you had the same issue with the two-digit numbers I did…

  15. BЯдΖǐL-ЯЄРΘЯΤЄЯ Avatar

    Haha.. I had one of these Black ZX81 with the 16 kB expansion pack for massive add on memory.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/85/ZX81_Sinclair_Research_advert.jpg"&gt;

  16. dr zero Avatar
    dr zero

    This is slightly off topic, but does anyone else prefer the Gold Leaf colour scheme to the JPS black gold?
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/75/1971_Emerson_Fittipaldi%2C_Lotus_72_%28kl%29.JPG/800px-1971_Emerson_Fittipaldi%2C_Lotus_72_%28kl%29.JPG&quot; width=500>

  17. 2stroke4life Avatar

    Lotus Elise 111S John Player Special… I want one so bad & they're not US-legal at this time, that I had to completely redo a Chrono diecast to build my own..