By on August 31, 2012

The person ultimately responsible for choosing colors for BMW cars, Sandy McGill, the other day attributed today’s popularity of white cars to the influence of Apple on consumers and designers.

Prior to Apple, white was associated with things like refrigerators or the tiles in your bathroom. Apple made white valuable.

McGill’s claims at first glance seem to be backed up by DuPont’s annual Color Popularity Report for 2011 that shows that 22% of new cars sold in the world were white, tied with silver. However, if you look at the historical data, white and lighter colors have been increasing in popularity for decades, long before Apple embraced white as their primary (no pun intended) design color.

I have, perhaps, a unique perspective on the topic. From 1982 to 2002, I worked in DuPont Automotive’s main car paint R&D laboratory in Troy, Michigan, originally as a technician but ultimately doing IT support. I’ve worked with the people who prepare those color popularity reports. I also worked with a lot of Apple computers. When I came into the IT department at the lab, DuPont at the time was the largest corporate user of Macintosh computers. Before the introduction of the iMac in 1998, Apple computers were a kind of off-white grey with maybe a hint of beige.

It seems to me that Apple didn’t embrace pure white as a design color until the introduction of the iPod in 2001. According to DuPont, though, by the year 2000 white was already the most popular car color. It’s entirely possible that Apple’s design ethos has influenced car color choices since then, and the Jaguar XF Supercharged on my driveway for a review is indeed Polaris White, but as I said, the trend towards white cars began a long time ago.

Just to be sure, I checked with a couple of experts, Gregg Schmidt at DuPont and Steve Klein of Your Mac Expert. Klein says that Apple first started using white as a design color with the iMac G3, released in 1998. Most people think of the original iMac as being mainly translucent blue, but it was actually available in 13 colors, one of them called Snow was white. However, Snow wasn’t the bright white that we now associate with Apple, it was translucent. According to my Mac expert (disclaimer: Steve is a first cousin of mine), the first bright white Mac was the iMac G4, introduced in 2002. The all white early iPod was introduced in 2001.

Schmidt, at DuPont, sent me the following chart showing the top two colors for selected years going back to 1960.


As you can see, white was the second most popular color not just in 1990, when Apples weren’t white, but it was also the second most popular color in 1960, when Steve Wozniak was in grade school and Steve Jobs was in kindergarten. As you can see from the timeline below, white’s popularity in 1960 may have been an outlier, but those 1990 statistics were part of a general trend towards lighter colors, with silver or grey being about as popular as white. Today over half of cars sold are one of those three light colors. By 2000, before Apple embraced white in a big way, white was already the  most popular color on trucks, vans, SUVs and luxury cars.

1953 – DuPont starts recording automotive color popularity.    Popular colors were medium blues, dark greens, and aqua colors.  Solid black, Ivory White, light beige and light gray were the neutral color spaces.

1960 – Metallic finishes are gaining popularity as medium brown and medium blue are popular.  

1970 – Browns, golds and olive greens are popular.

1980 – Light brown, gold, and beiges were popular.  Light blue was popular on full size and compact cars, dark blue was popular on trucks.

1990 – Trending towards lighter colors.  

2000 – White pearl gaining popularity on luxury vehicles.  Silver is the most popular on full and intermediate and white is most popular on Trucks, Vans, SUV’s, and luxury vehicles.

2010 – White is most popular overall in North America but Silver is #1 Global color.  Black is used to support a luxurious look in all segments.

Since white has been a popular color choice since the 1950s, it’s acceptance is really nothing new. What is new, at least in recent years, is a greater appreciation of brown cars. Worldwide, 5% of new cars last year were brown or beige. My fellow BCAS members rejoice. Apparently, what was formerly considered boring and reflective of malaise is now considered to be ‘authentic’. Jane Harrington, who manages color for DuPont’s competitor PPG, says that now brown is associated with luxury: “Think of the experience of good coffee, good chocolate, great pieces of wood. You’re seeing it across the crafts industry: more genuine materials, something that has longevity. The handmade quality people are looking for in luxury.”

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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93 Comments on “Are White Cars Really Popular Because of Apple?...”


  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Malaise colors like brown are back because malaise is back. Ronald Reagan gave us a vacation from it, but we’re back to the bleak horizon of the ’70s. The supposed Apple influence on white cars thing just goes to show that BMW is still hiring people in design that are less than worthless. White cars made up the majority of Dodge-badged Mitsubishis, Hondas, Oldsmobiles, Plymouths, and Saabs that were on the lots of the mega-dealer I worked for…in 1989. Only Subaru and Chrysler were immune, with the exception of Lebaron convertibles.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      CJ, your posts had drifted from interesting to Tea party trolling. If the topic warrants a political take, feel free to spew righty tighty rhetoric if that makes you feel good. But please resist the temptation to take every topic as a platform to imitate Rush Limbaugh.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Deregulation created an era of actual hope that tomorrow could be better than today. What do you think we’re looking at now?

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        I’ve learned to just ignore his low-info statements. The car industry is politically agnostic and has always had an easier time being representative of private industry as a whole. Apple may be the most valuable company on earth but the Auto industry controls a huge chunk of GDP. Malaise as it was called was caused by a complete lack of innovation and a fear of reinvestment. We can argue buying trends and labor costs but the reality was that they refused to spend money on competent engines and designs. Nothing the government regulated hurt the foreign makers because they had been doing it and engineered out of the problem.

        TTAC as a whole leans right-ward but blaming Carter or liberalism for the domestic car malaise is silly. It was controlled by right-wing business leaders who chose to gorge themselves on profits rather than reinvest in the most important areas.

      • 0 avatar
        acuraandy

        @Xeranar

        “The car industry is politically agnostic”?!:
        BULL as in BULL, SHIT as in SHIT. If it was, the ‘big-four’ would’ve sued the EPA into non-existence back in the early ’70′s for forcing them to build light trucks instead of land barges to circumvent CAFE standards (don’t even get me started on smog pumps and catalytic converters). They ‘played ball’ with the US feds, at their own peril.

        Cash for clunkers, GM bailout, Fiatsler bailout Part I and II, were all political exercises to buy votes from UAW/CAW members and nothing more.

        No offense, but get a clue.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never seen such OBVIOUS Tea Party trolling. You CJinSD are so good at trolling you put me to shame.

      I tip my hat to you sir.

      I personally was going to offer a 100% politics free answer:

      #1 White and Silver hide scratches well.
      #2 White is usually offered as a pearlized luxury color and people buying luxury cars buy premium colors.
      #3 White and silver help reduce the amount of energy required to keep a car cool because they reflect more light.

      Conjecture – When Japan had its catastrophe purchasing other colors like Black and Red was delayed while Silver and White (among others) were available.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      The so-called “malaise era” was due to new safety, environmental and fuel economy regulations, not so much politics.

      American cars had gotten so big and so inefficient that when the Japanese cars started making inroads and proved that you could build a small, fuel-efficient car that was, at the time, fun to drive in many respects, but was much more reliable day-to-day than the domestics could and would ever dream of, the OEMs were stuck in a crash-course to downsize and deal with all the impending new regulations.

      Of course, they should have seen that coming, but until the gravy train derailed, they chose to do little and the cars they gave us, while a start, such as the Pinto and Vega, it was a poor attempt.

      Only in recent years have they made inroads, but the OEMs still don’t quite get it.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IlRVy7oZ58

        Was the President that delivered the ‘Crisis of Confidence’ speech a political figure? Was Nixon, who created the EPA and forever changed the course of wages earned by Americans, a political figure? If not politicians, who imposed all those regulations ahead of viable solutions to the challenges they imposed? The new malaise has been ushered in by a fresh explosion of regulations and the impending doom of our fiat currency.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….who imposed all those regulations ahead of viable solutions to the challenges they imposed?….

        Wow, I actually agree with you on that statement. But if Detroit was not forced to deal with these issues, they never would have. They were dragged kicking and screaming into compliance. And using vacuum hoses that didn’t dry rot in three years might have helped with all those driviblity issues. All these early regulations made life more difficult, that is for sure. But the imports had to deal with them as well. And regulations are not responsible for poor panel fits, cheap materials, outdated manufacturing facilities, and missing market trends. ALL those issues fall squarely on management, who was used to a gravy train of profits. A lot of people are alive today due to those regulations. (insert death due to stalling in 1978 here).

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    White just looks drop-dead gorgeous on certain sports cars. Give me any Honda Type R model in Championship White in the ’00s era and an Apple iPod is the last thing that comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Agreed, sometimes you can just really see all the body lines and features best while dressed in white, such as blacked out trim, grilles, tail lamp treatments, stripe packages and the like, all created by the manufacturer to enhance the shape/style/stance of a car… I’m lookin’ at you, Challenger (and Charger)…

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    I think the long term demographic shift to the South and West with the attendant hot weather and blazing sun has more to do with the trend towards lighter colored cars. I bought a white Challenger for that very reason.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Beat me to it!

      • 0 avatar
        schmitt trigger

        In my previous job (located in South Texas) we had access to a FLIR camera.

        One torrid, cloudless August afternoon, I saw a pair of Explorers parked side by side on our parking lot, one black, one white.
        I immediately grasped the lucky event and retrieved the FLIR camera.

        The white vehicle was about 120F, whereas the black one was in excess of 180F

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      White is great in hot climates because it reflects the sun and it can be paired with any color interior. White exterior with light tan interior is usually the least uncomfortable option. Silver exterior is also pretty good at reflecting the sun, but it is frequently paired with a black interior.

      White is the preferred color for commercial vehicle fleets. I’d be curious how the different colors rank for retail customers if you exclude all those work trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Don’t tell me that Vanishing Point didn’t brush your head.

    • 0 avatar
      jjotto

      Sure, the growth of the Sun Belt means lighter color cars. But in my experience, a light interior in a darker car does better than a dark interior in a light car.

      So why do almost all higher end vehicles come with black interiors? Even convertibles! Are makers and dealers insane?

      • 0 avatar
        PeteRR

        My Challenger has that very color combination (white/black). I work on the edge of a dry lake 25 miles from Death Valley and surprisingly the interior at the end of a 110 degree day is not so hot you can’t even sit in it. I don’t know why.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Well, while I wouldn’t want a white Challenger, I would take it over any brown or beige, or that awful Toxic Orange they had, but for me, if I couldn’t get one in TorRed, Hemi Orange, Detonator Yellow, Plum Crazy Purple, etc, I would have to consider something else. Mine is Hemi Orange, I wanted Detonator Yellow, but couldn’t find the right car, the ones equipped right all had sunroofs, and I’m not buying any car with a sunroof.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Some colours look good on certain shapes, but the current generation of taffetta whites look very pristine and crisp on most cars.

    The gloss Ferrari-style reds look great on anything with curves and smoth forms, where as pearl-reds leave me unimpressed. Same goes with piano black vs pearl black.

    Aside from being conservative, the various shades of silver/metallacs at least make narrative sense. Your car is made out of metal, so it fits if the colour looks metallic.

    However, white is a luxury colour. Does not stay pristine white for long.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Silver is my least favourite colour. In fact if they never made another silver car again in my life I would sacrifice several goats to the car gods in thanks.

      Personal preference of course but bleh… what a wretchedly ubiquitous hue. Silver cars generally always “look clean” but as a result, never look spectacular when they actually ARE clean.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Beat me to it. Earth tones like greens, browns and blues looked good on the chrome-laden crease-and-tuck cars of the 1960s-1980s; not so good on the blacked-out and rounded aero cars of today.

      I think the problem with darker colors tending to have their clearcoat fail with water-based paint is another factor. I love the way dark blue looks on a car; but after having the clearcoat fail on two of the two dark blue cars I have owned over the past twenty years; never again. Silver paint used to be sprayed on thinner because it required less pigment to cover it, and would fail early as well; that pretty much left white as the only “conservative” color left, along with gray.

  • avatar
    ranwhenparked

    White is a flattering color for a lot of designs – it lends itself to shadows, which can highlight subtle curves and creases.

    Also very practical – doesn’t absorb heat and is the easiest to color match with touch-up paint. It’s also usually one of the cheaper colors to order.

    I don’t know how true it is, so take it with a grain of salt; but I have heard it said that Japanese cars always look more “natural” in white than any other color, simply because all the preliminary clay models, styling bucks, sketches, mockups, etc. are all done exclusively in white for good luck, then only rendered in other colors later in the design process.

  • avatar
    icemilkcoffee

    I’m just thankful that the light gold/metallic beige that was all the rage in the mid 2000′s, have gone extinct now. I HATE that color.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    It all depends on the car. In the mid-late 80′s, Chrysler came up with a bright white that really looked good with a red pinstripe on the K-Cars. Chevy also did it with the Cavaliers of that era, trimming them in red or blue. They even looked good.

    White cars many years ago had a dull, drab, even creamish yellow tinge that didn’t look good even when new. Dad’s 1960 Impala sports sedan was white that, at five years old, looked somewhat dull. You had to keep them waxed regularly.

    In recent years, the whites the OEMs use is brighter, pearlescent, glowing. Monochromatic 2000-2005 Impala LS’s look really nice. Our 1999 Stratus and 1996 Intrepid were white. They looked fine.

    As was stated, it all depends on the car. Some cars just beg to be red. Others, not so much. My new ride is a very dark metallic gray, which sets off the wheels, emblem, bright trim and pinstripe quite nicely.

    An old neighbor always bought silver cars because the color hides the dirt, plain and simple.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Zack,

      The paint on your Dad’s 1960 Impala was true for most cars of the day. It had more to do with the chemical structure of the paint itself and was not as durable as more modern paints are.

      In fact, it may have been lacquer, or lacquer/enamel by that point and as I said, it didn’t have the durability and most paints of that time didn’t last much beyond 5 years anyway, even with good care.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    Had a white 09 Corolla. When to chalk in two years. Found out that Toyota does not bother to clear coat their “super white” cars. Cheap! Looked like hell. Sold at the peak of this year’s used car bubble. Good thing the buyer was only looking at the brand and was blind to everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      a few friends had some white cars of the Japanese origin, all required semi-annual waxing just like the cars of yore to keep their shiny look.

      That reminds me.. I need to wax my ancient metallic green, disco era, GM sled since I worked hard to polish it back to something resembling shiny paint after years of neglect.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      I’m fairly certain that most paint colors are single stage now. Only your high dollar pearlescent coats go through 2x.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Quentin,

        Technically, that’s not correct, most regular paints are now shot in a 2 stage process, the first stage, after primer is a thin layer of color, with metallic flakes where appropriate as the first stage of the process.

        Then a clear coat finish applied over it as the second stage. It is this clear coat that allows for a smooth, shiny surface and its a lot easier to apply than previous single stage paints as the clear coating helps with the color matching when a repair is done.

        A pearlescent paint has 3 stages, the base color layer, the pearlescent layer, and then the clear coat layer, which is why it often costs more than most 2 stage paints.

        Most metallic paints are charged something like $500, regular glossy, non metallic paints are usually of no charge, and those usually are your primary colors, plus white, but even they are often shot with a 2 stage clear coat process as paints now are water based these days.

  • avatar
    67dodgeman

    I almost talked my wife into a WRX STi just because she LOVED that particular shade of blue. She probably still doesn’t know why it only came with that silly hood scoop and ridiculous spoiler on back.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    iBook g3 predates both iPod and iMac g4.

    G4 iMac was not gloss white, and came a year later than icebooks G3– which were translucent acrylic with a white underpainting technique similar to the original iPod.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    Buying an automobile is a long-term commitment. Whites, silvers, blacks, true reds and blues never go out of style. What does go out of style? Fashion shades of blues, reds and greens. They don’t stay modern long.

    Green, as an example: In the 1960s, pastels and mediums ruled. Things like seafoam, new-growth green– even Jaguar greens were what you got. In the 70s, they turned into sublime and avocados. The 80s brought us back to our senses, but then later… they started pumping out aquamarine cars by the millions, or so it seemed. One couldn’t park next to a car that wasn’t an aquamarine sunbird for quite a while.

    And– who wants to be seen in an aquamarine 10-year old Sunbird?

    My antique car is a Beryl Green(new-growth) VW. My old car is a purple and primer-splotched ragamuffin neon– and my driver is a metallic black PT. I’ve no qualms about color– but green cars are simply unsellable at about 10 years of age. Mine is green only because it looks so beautiful against cream leatherette and oatmeal wool carpets.

    My favorite is white, but it’s so boring that I choose otherwise almost exclusively. White cars just don’t age like colors do.

    • 0 avatar
      texan01

      I’ve found that its cyclical. I’m looking to repaint my ’77 Chevelle that was originally a medium metallic green. I’ve found that Toyota, Honda and GM have a color out that is damn near identical to the original 1977 shade.

      Another car I had was a very ’70s sky blue, but that color would have looked just right on 1950s cars, and VW seems to have co-opted it for the new “new” Beetle

      So some colors come and go.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I really hope Sandy McGill made that comment with “tongue firmly planted in cheek”. If she (or is Sandy a he?) was serious be thankful she wasn’t hired for her analytical thinking abilities.

    Looking at the above color chart I’m shocked (well, not really) that the colors I like make up a very small percentage of peoples choices. Give me a nice blue, green, burnt orange, or yellow (sometimes) over the oh so prevalent silver/gray, black and white.

    If you Google “Autospies colorful BMWs” you’ll see what I mean. I’ll take the green, blue, or orange please!

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    It’s because the US is aging and of all the Asians.

    In my experience it seems that the slowest and least observant drivers drive white cars, and they usually have white hairs.

  • avatar
    Viquitor

    I live in Rio de Janeiro. It’s pretty sunny out there, and a white car really helps. I’ve had two white cars in the past, and now that I’m shopping for my next commuter, it is likely to be white as well.

    And I couldn’t care less about Apple. The only Apple hardware I’ve ever had was a lousy iMac I gladly gave to my housekeeper a few years ago.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    It’s still disappointing that 77% of the world’s cars are black, white, silver, or gray. And the few reds that are offered are so muted I often ask, “What’s the point?”. It’s particularly bad in the luxury car lines when you have a choice of three or more grays.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Amen brotha.

      I don’t understand it and what irks me more is when a manufacturer offers a green, blue, orange or similar color that’s muted.

      Colors should “pop”. It seems many are mixed with gray. I say again Google “autospies colorful BMWs”.

      How could you not love those cars?

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    I have never owned an all white car. I currently own two blue cars. I have previously owned three black cars (my favorite car color), one yellow car, one maroon car, one silver car and one two-tone car with a blue body and white top.

    The yellow and silver cars were 1970′s models with black vinyl interiors which were absolutely miserable here in the south. Imagine summer in Florida with 95+ degree temps and 95%+ humidity and riding in a car with hot, sticky black vinyl seats.

    The maroon car had a colored keyed, maroon interior which was considered stylish in the 1980′s, but would be likened to the inside of a bordello or a trumpet case by the the TTAC crowd.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    Most important factor for picking a white car: if you’re buying a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes, white is one of the few free colors. The rest cost extra.

    • 0 avatar
      bkmurph

      On one hand, I think it’s silly that certain manufacturers charge $700+ for metallic paint; on the other hand, if you’re already paying $40 grand for a C-Class, maybe another $700 to get the color you really want isn’t so bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Beelzebubba

        I’ve always thought it was crazy how the European brands charge for anything other than plain White, Black or Red. Audi charges $475, BMW and Volvo are $550 and M-B is $720 unless you get the Diamond White Metallic for $1515!

        Now GM and Ford both have extra-cost colors on most models (up to $995 on Caddy models). A lot of companies also charge for ‘Pearl’ but it’s usually around $200 or so.

        It’s interesting the Lexus, Infiniti and Acura are the only upscale brands that can paint a car any color or finish for the same price!

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez

    I wonder if color matched bumpers and trim has any effect on increasing the popularity of white. Back when these were made of rubber and generally dark colored, white looked terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      Beelzebubba

      Very interesting, I had never thought about that before but it makes sense! My sister had a ’91 Accord DX 4-door in Front White and the black bumpers, door handles, mirrors and side moulding stood out like a sore thumb!!! But she chose it because she liked the pretty Smurf Blue interior….but it was downright ugly on the outside!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It was one white Testarossa on Miami Vice that was the turning point for white’s popularity in everyday cars. And supercars.

  • avatar
    nikita

    Browns and greens seem to go in an out of fashion in cycles. In 1993, when I was ordering a new Chevy, in white, I remember seeing in the salesman’s data book that white was #1 and red #2 the previous year.

    My own history, when buying new and had a choice,
    1980 Gold
    1984 Dark Blue
    1988 Tan
    1993 White
    2010 Medium Blue

    The current color I hate is lime green, like on every Fiesta I see.

    BTW, the only Apple product I ever had was a light beige Mac SE30, sitting next to my SUN workstation in the same color.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Lets see over the course of my live I have owned in order

      ’92 Loyale sedan – White
      ’92 Cavalier coupe – Black
      ’02 Grand Am sedan – Black
      ’85 Coupe de Ville – Pearl White
      ’90 Audi 100 sedan – Teal Green
      ’98 Saturn SL sedan – White
      ’90 Town Car sedan – Cream/Beige
      ’08 Grand Prix sedan – Metallic Mocha Black

      Wow I’ve owned more white cars than I thought, and the one I have owned the longest is the white Saturn which has its sixth anniversary in my fleet next month. However the cars I’ve loved the most were all black…

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      My colors went like this:

      1971 Medium blue- Inherited car, not my choice
      1972 Red with white vinyl top and black interior- not my choice, at least not the vinyl top.
      1974 Silver with red stripes- Ordered it when sales idiot told me the blue I really wanted wasn’t available. It was.
      1977 Yellow with black hood and rockers.
      1979 Bright Red
      1982 White and maroon- Only one on lot equipped right, hated the color.
      1985 Silver and blue
      1986 Maroon with tan interior. Hated the tan. Got a deal!
      1988 Red.
      1993 Silver
      2000 Black
      2003 Maroon- On lot and it was perfect otherwise.
      2008 Black
      2010 Orange with black stripes.

      Tan, brown, frosty green…NEVER.

  • avatar
    2drsedanman

    I really like the Sar Marino red on the Honda Accord Coupe. Wish they would make it available on the sedan.

    Dodge Challengers are another car where you have to pay extra for certain colors, white is always “free”.

  • avatar
    yanges

    my last 3 cars have been white – i just like the clean look with this color and i have really never thought of Apple when choosing colors, although i am a big fan of their products!!

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Retailers call appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, etc.) white goods because the basic models are most commonly clad in white enameled steel.

    A majority of Americans now regard their cars as appliances.

    Appliances are white.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I used to hate white cars because as a kid, that’s all my parents would buy for themselves. Between my mom and dad, it was something like 10 white cars in a row by the time I was 18. It was mainly for the reason that it was cooler in the heat and they didn’t need to be washed as often to look good.

    I like the way black paint looks when new, but here in the SouthWest with the sun and sand, it looks like shit in a hurry. White definitely looks “new car” for a lot longer.

    I’m less hostile to white now that I’m older, and can see the benefits, but it probably never be my first choice.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Black is the best color for a car. Add a triple wax coat, limo tint, and park it out of the sun at home and I would imagine that is sufficient enough.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    The popularity of “pearl” white (especially on upscale models) should also be taken into account. Personally, I miss cars that were “pure” white (the last one I owned was a ‘Taffeta White’ 1994 Acura Legend) but I am apparently in the minority. Pearl whites (ranging from a slightly dirty-looking white all the way to iridescent beige) are the norm on almost anything with a sticker price of $20k or more.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      My car is a metallic white — very pure, almost blueish. Almost every other white car looks creamy parked next to it.

      And it had a sticker considerably higher than $20K.

  • avatar
    chris724

    I would personally never pick any of the top 4 “color” choices.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    One of my cars is white, actually Nissan’s “pearlescent” white and I hate it. But since it is provided by work, there is no complaint from me. But buy white? Not a chance. White makes the seams and gaps more apparent and you can see the seam sealer and weld marks more easily. And it just lacks imagination. And not just in cars either. Ever walk into a new home that every surface is white? Right down to the knobs and carpet? Cold, harsh, and uninviting. I told my realtor back in the day that if the listing said “light, bright, white, open and airy”, don’t waste my time showing it to me. But to each his own.

    For what it is worth, I paid extra to get my trusty MacBook in black. White keyboards discolor and look dirty and disgusting after heavy use.

  • avatar
    John

    I’m waiting for Avocado Green and Harvest Orange to make a come back.

  • avatar
    Beelzebubba

    Don’t you mean Harvest Gold? I believe it was Burnt Orange…and please kill me if that ‘Color-wheel-from-hell’ ever returns…nasty!

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Ya’ll forgot doodoo brown.

    • 0 avatar
      John

      @Beelsebubba – you are correct, and I am wrong. It was Harvest Gold and Burnt Orange. I should have asked my wife, who at that time was a mega-Brady Bunch fan.

      Every thing that was old become trendy eventually. Trust me.

      • 0 avatar
        Beelzebubba

        @John- I wish I didn’t remember the names of those colors so clearly, but they traumatized me!

        There was a hideous brand of home decor called HODA back in the 70s. It was sold via in-home parties and my mom sold the hideous crap! It was truly vulgar, even worse than the Country Blue, Mauve and Seafoam Green trend in the late 80s!!!

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    I’ve have several cars over the years, and only one was white.

    HS early 80′s, 1968 Chrysler Newport, medium metallic blue (had I think a slight green tint to it, but kinda hard to tell as it had weathered to a flat, dull finish that on the high ridges was beginning to fade to no color along the creases in places).

    early 80′s, ’74 Chevy Nova, a reddish rust/brown, I believe Chevy called Copper or Copper Brown, but had a parchment/brown vinyl interior, and the basic black dash as it was the base 4 door sedan.

    mid 80′s, 1978 Chevy Nova 2 door. a softish yellow with a beige vinyl interior and matching dash, but had the black steering wheel though.

    late 80′s, white Ford Fairmont with light blue vinyl interior, dash and steering wheel included.

    early 1990′s, beige/tan 83 Honda Civic in what Honda called glossy Oslo Ivory (non metallic) with beige/brown cloth/vinyl interior

    late 80′s, 1988 Honda Accord, metallic beige that Honda called Seattle Silver (a cross between gold and silver) with a reddish brown interior.

    mid oughts, 1992 Ford Ranger, Calypso Green metallic with gray interior, a jade like green that was actually attractive. I bet if I clayed it well, gave it a good waxing after a good washing, it’d clean up and shine nearly like new still (had it from 2006-2012) but the clearcoat remained intact on that baby, including the canopy.

    And my current car, 2003 Mazda Protege 5 with the Mica Black metallic paint, black interior with leather seating surfaces, so black on black. It’s nice in black, but black would NOT be my first choice of colors.

    Red, Yellow, or a bright blue would be preferable or better yet, some of the more fun colors, such as purple or that glossy non metallic light blue that is the color of the sky, or a baby blue, sadly not common these days.

    I also love some of the more fun colors of the 1950′s, such as beeswax, putty, gloss medium gray paired with coral or something like that.

    I like how MINI has the black or white tops that you can choose for some colors, such as red or yellow, and I’d get the black tops for either color. They also had a light non metallic blue for a year or two that I like, though it has more of a gray tinge to it, but it looks good with a black roof.

    • 0 avatar
      Beelzebubba

      I had an ’89 Accord LXi 4-door in Seattle Silver and I can’t remember if Honda called the interior Red-Brown or Brown-Red (definitely more of a dark brown than a burgandy). I loved that car!

      Then I had a ’92 Accord EX 4-door in Arcadia Green (teal green with ivory interior). The color was ‘in’ at the time, but I HATE light-colored interiors and this was the worst!

      I currently have a ’06 Mazda3 s 5-door in Titanium Gray. I also have a 2008 Volvo S60 T5 also in a shade called Titanium Gray, but it is a lot darker than the Mazda. I wanted the Mazda in Winning Blue (bright, sky blue) but it had the ugliest black/blue checked seats. I got the black/red checked seats with the Titanium Gray. I bought the Volvo used (and the T5 only came in Gray, Silver or Black anyway).

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        Very cool Beelzebubba,

        I have to agree that the interior of the Accord was mostly brown, with reddish overtones, especially in the plastics, but the entire entire was like that.

        I’d have taken the funky blue/black seats in the Mazda, just to get the blue myself, but I like semi funky fabrics in my cars, where available. :-)

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      To my original post just above, I found the actual color for my old ’74 Nova online, it was called Aztec Bronze, or simply Bronze, a reddish brown that more like burnt orange, or caramel and it was a metallic single stage paint that went back as early as 1966, paint code is, you guessed it, 66.

      It went by other names for the exact same color and all used the same code, depending on which model it was used on.

      However, by the time I bought it, late summer, early fall of 1983, it was fading and had lost most of its gloss. A good coat of wax would restore the paint for the most part, but within 3-6 months, it’d fade out again and quickly get cloudy and dull.

      I doubt it ever had been well kept up and probably never garaged so by 1983, it was about a decade old and it showed.

      However, it was a nice color and seeing a freshly sprayed ’66 Chevelle in that same color, all glossy and shiny, it’s gorgeous

  • avatar

    White here for survival purposes since white reflects heat and being close but not too close to a thermonuclear detonation one wants to be in a conveyance that will reflect as much heat as possible.

    Not all of us can be a “terminator dude” who when fighting that alien predator chap survived being in close proximity to what appeared to be a fission detonation.

    Better safe than sorry the adage mumbles at us.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    As for my parents, my Dad had a couple of white cars that he drove, and the ’64 Dodge 330 station wagon they bought new in the summer of ’64. It was white with blue vinyl interior, but by 1968, they got tired of the white and had it resprayed a light glossy blue, the color of spring sky and it remained that color until we sold it in 1977.

    They also had a very light green (non metallic), 71 Ford Custom that was a former GSA, perhaps Army car with green interior, a beige/gold metallic 75 Plymouth Gran Fury with parchment vinyl roof/interior

    They also had a new ’76 blue on blue Honda Accord, now that was one cute little car back in the day.

    They had a metallic brown 76 Vega Kamback wagon with beige vinyl interior, the car looked great in that brown too.

    They also had a metallic brown with gold stripes 72 Gold Duster with a greenish/gold interior/vinyl roof. Can’t recall if full or landau though.

    A metallic burgundy 83 X body Skylark with matching vinyl roof and velour interior

    a medium blue 83 Citation, a white 1990 Honda Accord, now it was a white, white, and was clearcoated so it actually looked nice, but still, white is not a color I’d go for as it tends to make cars look like appliances, and in my eyes, does not do a thing for its looks, red does, especially a basic, gloss red.

    They had a dark green metallic 95 Chrysler Concorde (with gray interior), and Mom ended up with a used 97 Accord, dark green metallic with tan, and now she drives a red metallic ’04 Dodge Stratus as it fits her personality, and she’s 80, will be 81 in Dec.

  • avatar
    Tinker

    I bought a new “Oxford White” F150 XL in 1997, short narrow bed. Why? Because my previous truck was a 1975 black long wide-bed Ranger Explorer (red brocade cloth interior). (Yes, a full-sized truck.)

    MUCH cooler. Easier to turn around, too. 6 cylinder Auto, optional higher axle ratio, to allow full chassis load capacity. (Previous was a 390 V8 auto). A good choice, I think. Cassette tape player never worked from day 1, I never tried to get it fixed. Also, internet sales were handled by fleet sales at the time. (White is THE fleet color.)

    Bought my wife a Copper Mica Red this time.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’ve never owned a white car, but I understand that they are beneficial in avoiding heat.

    I honestly prefer black on my luxury cars, its easier to spot the dirt to wash off and its the traditional Model T color.

    As for “dated” paint colors, I dunno whats wrong with that unless if your cars pink.

    Edit: I’m not an Apple fan and will never buy one of their products. I’m sure there are better reasons than people trying to flaunt about their choice of computers in a silly manner.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    White is #1 color because of fleet sales, and for hotter climates.

    I had a white ’78 Impala, in 1988, for $500!

  • avatar
    baggins

    I like white for one reason not yet mentioned, it’;s quite visible to other drivers. Seems minor, but how often does someone pull out in front of you as if they didnt see you? It’s inatttention of course, but the flash of a bright color can grab attention – hence white, red or bright yellow fire trucks. I read that red actually is not very visible at night, but tradition ….

    I dont think this benefit a major factor, and DRLs level the playing field quite a bit. But on a gray winter day, I think white is notably more visible than gray, metallic, or black. It doesn’t snow where I live.

    Another benefit is that minor dings, scratches, etc are not as easily seen – but that one’s been mentioned.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Regarding fire trucks; don’t forget that pale lime green color. A study several years ago found that color to be more visible in foggy conditions than red, so some fire departments went with it. It seemed so wrong at the time after seeing red fire trucks for so long.

      On a related note, in addition to painting their fire trucks lime green, my hometown decided to paint their police cars a muted gray color. The idea was that gray would make it is easier to sneak up on bad guys; the unintended consequence is that it also made it easier to sneak up on *everyone*, especially at night, and the number of collisions skyrocketed; they quickly went back to the traditional black-and-white.

      Anyone else remember that metallic blue that was only offered on the Audi 4000 in the early`1980s? I don’t know why I only saw it on that one particular model. I believe it has made a comeback in recent years; I just realized that the Maisto diecast model of a Dodge Durango that is sitting on my desk is about the right color.

      I never would have bought my Ford Taurus in the sky blue that my late Dad picked out in 1995. But it has really grown on me; it stands out as being unique nowdays, and on a clear spring day when the sky takes on that deep blue color; it nearly glows:

      http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/s720x720/486440_3216868675112_1167999401_n.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Joe McKinney

        Back in the 1970′s and 1980′s there was a big push to get fire departments to adopt lime green because it is the most visible color in the greatest variety of conditions. Tradition is very powerful and red remains the color of choice for most fire departments. Red is a bright color, but it tends to blend into the background, particularly at night. My town uses red trucks, but two other towns in the area use white trucks because white is more visible than red.

        A few years back the Florida Highway Patrol conducted a study on emergency vehicle lighting. Their conclusion was that red lights are most visible in daytime and blue lights are most visible at night. As result they are replacing their all-blue lightbars with new bars which have alternating clusters of red and blue LEDs which can be illuminated according to conditions. These new lightbars flash red in daylight and blue at night or in foggy conditions.

        The town where I live uses black patrol cars. The cars are marked, but the markings are low profile colors (gray and dark green). Also, the cars are slicktops with the emergency lighting mounted in the widows and grills. As with many places in the south the emergency lighting is all-blue.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I was nearly t-boned when I pulled out in front of a dark green Camry with its lights off on a shady, wooded road. Looked right at him and never saw him.

      The army paints their toys that color for a reason.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Dark grey and graphite are my favorite colors on a car or truck, but also the color of cars I mostly miss seeing at first glance. This is why I chose bright red for my last new truck.

      I’ve mostly had white trucks up till then, but shortly after I drove it off the lot, some lady in a sedan, in broad daylight, moose tested my F-150 and I barely missed nailing her or anything else.

      So much for standing out. You’d think red cars would be, statically, involved in less accidents. That’s not the case.

  • avatar
    Joe McKinney

    Another advantage of white and other light colors is that they do not show dirt like dark colored cars. I have owned three black cars. When they were just washed they looked great. The problem was, they were impossible to keep clean. every little speck of dust was visible against the black paint. This is not such a problem with white cars because dust does not contrast as badly with lighter colors..

  • avatar
    AJ

    It surprises me that white, silver and black are such popular colors? White I can see more why it is, but silver IMHO is boring, and black… NEVER except for a garage kept Sunday car, or at least a leased car.

    My toy… A Jeep Wrangler is flame red. Bright colors are cool. Plus the red shines through the mud.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    White is the top seller for 2 reasons:
    1) non-rental, fleet sales are white body, particularly trucks and vans
    2) White looks great on non-stripper cars. Camry L in white? Horrid. Camry SE V6? Pretty slick. It has to do with how the color is accessorized. Nice alloy wheels with bold headlight and taillight housings with painted door handles? White will probably look nice.

    I’ve owned 4 white cars. The first is a MINI Cooper S with black bonnet stripes, black roof, sharp alloys, and auxiliary driving lights. The creme white really looks fantastic. My 2nd, now sold, white car was an MKV GTI. I had the machined face 18″ wheels with the factory, painted aero kit with that bold black grille. The pure white looked awesome on that car, particularly with the black, gray, red plaid seats inside. My 4Runner is a bit disappointing in white because I love the look of the trail edition instead of the fancier SR5 that I have. The chrome trim on the headlights, rocker panels, and bumper don’t compliment the pearl white paint in some lights. The pearl paint looks fantastic at dusk.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    White is what you paint a car to hide poor bodywork; nothing disguises a panel ripple or badly reshaped wheel arch like a good bright or flat white. Black is what you paint a car when you want to show off how well you managed to smooth that crinkled fender or rear quarter panel; nothing highlights surface imperfections the way a glossy black finish does.

    Do these color charts reflect the difference between new car choices and the aftermarket? With the continual narrowing of factory offered color choice selections since the 70s, it’s too easy for a selection committee to skew the ratio in favor of “safe” neutrals, while someone who’s repainting a beloved ride will often choose a more vibrant color, the better to stand out in traffic or visually declare their devotion. In my area, white is notable by its absence at the weekend show-n-shines, while the rainbow is out in force.

  • avatar
    lightbulb

    White is a not a great color choice for snow country. My mother had a peal white car years ago, it was a nice color, but the grime from winter roads made the car more dark tan the white. Which meant constant expensive car washes in the winter. Next is car’s visibility in winter storms. White & silver cars tend to blend into the background more than darker colors. Though in summer white cars stand out against the green/brown background. Then it seems everyone and their brother has a white or silver car. For individuality reasons I rather have a different color such as blue, brown or green. Don’t get me wrong I think cars look gorgeous in certain shades of white or silver but for the above reasons I rather have a darker color. If I moved to warmer climes than I would diffidently look at white. Silver is too boring for my tastes, unless it’s more graphite.

  • avatar
    amca

    Car colors have become fearsomely dull. Look at Buicks: couple shades of silver, black, white, then maybe a gold and for those who want to make a real statement – red. that’s it.

    Boring, boring, boring. Have peoples’ tastes gotten simpler, they all want white? Or have car makers starved buyers of choices? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

  • avatar
    PeteRR

    Recalling my car show days. We had a local who would bring his ’69 Charger out most weekends. This vehicle had the worst color combination known to man: Triple Green. Green exterior, interior, and vinyl roof. To top it off it was /6 powered.

    Generally arguments among our crew were between keeping the car completely original (insane people) and changing it to make the car own-able (sane people).

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve owned a range of colorful cars as I generally hate white, silver or grey since they are so boring. However currently the wife has pearl white car with a brown skirts/aero work (Volvo C30), and its actually pretty good looking. Due to how rare C30s are buying a used one really limited our choices. I drive an orange 350Z (see my avatar) and once owned a yellow Prelude so I’m not afraid of more odd ball colors. My truck is boring silver but that choice was made on purpose: silver looks the same clean or dirty so for a truck it works well. I’ll never own another black vehicle due to the sun/heat here in Florida. And I also avoid flat colors, I had two Civics: one flat red the other metallic red, and the difference in how the paint aged was dramatic. If the flat red car was unwaxed it looked terrible. I’ve owned two different shades of green (mid 90s) and one blue car. Hyundai currently makes a blue so light its almost silver, surprised its not more popular.

    As for Apple – the original iMacs came in blue, then branched out to the colors of the rainbow. The classic white of the iPod was actually much later but came to represent “clean & techy” so I can see why people want that look in car. However its just impossible to keep white looking clean so I’ll pass.


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