The Iconic Petty 43 and its Many Makes and Models

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In a sport dominated by brand loyalty, Richard Petty’s iconic 43 has been a bit of an oxymoron. The announcement yesterday of the 43 car switching its’ manufacturer to Toyota is nothing new to King Richard I. Here is a brief look at every manufacturer the the 43 has graced the side of over the years in the Cup Series.

Oldsmobile (1958-1959, 1979-1980)

Stats: 41 Starts, 1 Win, 1 Championship (1979)

Breakdown: Oldsmobile was the first Manufacturer that Richard Petty used in the Cup Series. While it was not where the majority of his success came from, he drove it to one of his most iconic wins at the 1979 Daytona 500. Not only that, but that Oldsmobile he ran part-time, splitting with Chevrolet, helped Petty towards his record seventh Championship.

Plymouth (1959-1972)

Stats: 460 Starts, 138 Wins, 4 Championships (1964, 1967, 1971, 1972)

Breakdown: Petty’s first ride with Chrysler Corp became the ride where he had most of his success. With four championships including his 27 win 1967 season, King Richard was coronated while he was driving a Plymouth

Ford (1969, 2010-2017)

Stats: 336 Starts, 10 Wins

Breakdown: Petty made the move to Ford for just under one season in 1969, winning 10 races. However, Petty went back to Ford in 2010 with the relatively newly christened Richard Petty Motorsports. Aric Almirola won a rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in 2014, the first win since 1999 for the iconic 43.

Dodge (1972-1978, 2004-2009)

Stats: 394 Starts, 38 Wins, 3 Championships (1972, 1974, 1975)

Breakdown: Sticking with Chrysler Corp, Petty continued immense success into NASCAR’s modern era once the 1970s rolled around. However, Petty’s most iconic moment in the car may have been finishing second to David Pearson at the 1976 Daytona 500. Petty Enterprises moved back to Dodge in 2004 with little success.

Chevrolet (1978-1981, 1986 (1 start), 2018-2023)

Stats: 235 Starts, 5 Wins, 1 Championship (1979)

Breakdown: In the year he ran an Oldsmobile part time, it was a Chevy that Petty drove during the majority of his races in his championship 1979 season. Petty’s 43 moved back to Chevy in 2018, and Erik Jones put the 43 back in victory lane for the first time in eight years at the 2022 Southern 500 at Darlington.

Buick (1981)

Stats: 30 Starts, 3 Wins

Breakdown: By far the least used manufacturer on this list, Petty still had his moment in the sun while driving a Buick. Petty won his seventh career Daytona 500 win in a fuel mileage gamble in 1981 behind the wheel of a Buick Regal.

Pontiac (1982-2003)

Stats: 647 Starts, 8 Wins

Breakdown: To the surprise of many, Pontiac is the manufacturer the 43 car has had the most starts with. It is also the car with the most winners driving the 43 with John Andretti and Bobby Hamlilton also winning races. The most iconic moment with the car, however, would undoubtedly be the King’s 200th win at the 1984 Firecracker 400.

NASCAR’s arguably most iconic car number will be moving to Toyota next season. What are the possibilities with the 43 on the side of a Toyota?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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