Looking at this picture, carefully digitally massaged by my brother, it’s a bit hard to recall why I didn’t dig the 991. What a rich, full colour, shimmering and gleaming like the dowry bangles of an upper-caste Indian bride; love among the marigolds.
Trust me, in person this thing looked like a flicked booger. Put it another way: if the canary turns this colour, get the hell out of the mineshaft. But then, that’s just my opinion – and it sets me to wondering. As we writers are wont to praise or condemn based on the emotional intangibles of a car, how much of the review was due to the hue?
Ahh…that’s better, and for all kinds of reasons. This very low-mileage C4S (Turbo in look only) was spotted street-side and I snapped a quick iPhone pic. I’m not sure if you can tell from the shot, but this machine is bedecked in a custom-ordered Pastel Yellow, not the Speed Yellow of the fabled RUF.
Next to the 991’s Lime Gold – which, by the way, sounds like a brand of cheap, tasteless lager – the 993 is truly a more mellow yellow. While I’d prefer it in Polar Silver, the air-cooled car has the poise and the pedigree to pull off any number of shades that would look silly on the modern car.
And then there are those colours that make the unacceptable delightful.
Let’s get this out of the way at once: the Panamera is as ugly as a baboon’s ass. Clearly, the only correct thing to do in the circumstances is quit messing around and paint the the Porker in the palate of primate posterior.
The last time I saw a Panamera in white, it was being pursued by a one-legged man who brandished a harpoon and shouted, “Thar she blows!” as the Pano hit boost. Shading the gargantuan GTS in red has the same effect as Cristo wrapping the Reichstag.
Driving a Panamera always feels like you’ve got Ferry’s desecrated corpse strapped to the hood. Driving a big red Panamera feels like you’ve stopped apologizing for being s’damn gauche, and – I imagine – it loomed large in the rearview of that dark grey Ferrari like a giant middle finger. Fun stuff.
But the Rote Sau Effect was, I believe, a bit of an accident. Ordinarily, the PR wings of the manufacturers seem most concerned with how a car is going to look in photographs, which is why we end up with brown Jetta TDIs (browngate!), eggplant Scion iQs and the aforementioned garish Porsches.
What people actually buy is neutral colours; when in the airport recently, I happened to walk past a W.H. Smith’s, and imagine my surprise to see that they were selling Audi brochures! It’s true, they had a whole stack of them. Said right on the cover: “Forty Shades of Grey.”
Actually, white is currently at the forefront of automotive purchases these days, with something like a quarter of all cars in North America being the colour of the Beatles’ ninth album. Obviously on some cars this colour doesn’t work (call me Ishmael…) but in most cases, it’s a nice safe bet.
White is the colour of a blender, or a microwave or – before stainless steel became de rigueur – a refrigerator. It’s an appliance’s colour; in the UK, the domestic machinery of a modern home is actually referred to as “white goods”. The inferential leap that sits out there tantalizingly, begging to be made, is that our colour choices are yet another barometer showing the car’s dwindling importance as a fashion statement, an emotional purchase, a vehicle not just for our persons but for our personalities.
I’m not sure that’s quite the case. It’s nothing more than a gut feeling, but I get the sense that people still want colour in their lives. While they’ll happily forego an analog, enthusiast-titillating driving feel for comfort and improved fuel economy, they’re not quite ready yet to give up at least some modicum of individuality.
And then there’s the issue of choice and availability.
I don’t drive a car that’s the colour I originally wanted. When I was on the hunt for the ‘Roo, I was looking at World Rally Blue pretty much exclusively. However, supply was tight, and I found a silver car that had half the mileage and none of the abuse. It wasn’t my first choice, but it would do.
I know a guy who’s trying to buy a new All-Road in Moonlight Blue. He’d like something with a few options on it, but guess what? Factory order. No dealer ordered the shade, but would he take black, white or grey?
Folks don’t like to be told that they’re going to have to wait. Dealers stock in what they think they’re going to sell the most of. If it’s not quite what you wanted, but it’s inoffensive…
Even so, a visit to any Kia lot will give you a modicum of hope for the palate of the future. THe Koreans are at the forefront of edgy styling, and their offerings seem to be brighter in hue as well. I see more interesting-coloured Kias than I do Hondas.
As for myself, I try not to let my thoughts be coloured too much by… er, colour. For instance, I had really hoped that the machine I’m currently writing up would have been any other shade than the bright yellow it turned up in.