I do not understand the attraction of matte finishes on new cars. Most luxury automakers offer this ugly flat paint option, charging upwards of $5,000 over a standard finish. It is all the rage here in Southern California but I am here to tell you: matte ain’t phat.
I suppose driving around looking like your body shop went bankrupt after priming your car has a certain stealthy, edgy appeal. The problem is that upkeep on the paint is a pain if you want to keep your car looking as dull as new. Automakers prohibit you from taking your vehicle through a car wash. You may not polish or wax the finish. If any road or bird gunk hits your car, it must be cleaned immediately. If you rub too hard, it will damage the paint. BMW makes buyers sign an agreement acknowledging that they will adhere to the upkeep guidelines.
Want to matte your Malibu but the factory does not offer it? No problem, there are a host of specialty paint shops that will apply a matte wrap for a couple thousand dollars. The wrap is actually a series of removable vinyl stickers typically used to turn vehicles into rolling billboards.
Many automobile dealers have turned to selling aftermarket matte wraps rather than profiting the piddling markup on the factory flat paint. This is a lovely $2,500-cost wrap job that a dealership is charging $4,995 for on a Mercedes-Benz C250.
Matte finishes are more peculiar than the “Mystic Paint” that was available on 1996 Mustang Cobras, a shade that changed color from green to purple to blue depending upon the light. According to a post on the 1996 Mystic Cobra Forum, that paint now costs $8,000 per gallon. The current Manheim auction price for a 1996 Cobra in average condition is $5,567. You do the math.
I have concluded that customers who buy matte finish vehicles reinforce that old car dealer adage: there is an ass for every seat.