Three and a half years ago, I found myself blitzing down Wilshire Boulevard behind the wheel of what was then the only Rolls-Royce Wraith in the country. There was much to admire about the car: the saturnine (as in Saturn V, not the dour deity) thrust of the blown V-12, the transcendent sound system, the Starlight Headliner that makes every late-night date a romantic one. Truth be told, I expected all of that. What I did not expect was to be utterly smitten by the Wraith’s two-tone paintjob.
What was the last mass-market passenger car to be sold in the United States with an optional two-color finish? Don’t tell me that it was the ’90s Explorer Eddie Bauer, because I don’t want to think about that despicable slug of a trucklet. Perhaps it was the ’80s Town Car? The bustleback Seville? And could two-tone paint jobs ever make a comeback? I think they might, and I’ll tell you why.
Recent history tells us that car buyers tend to favor bright colors when the economy is having trouble. Despite the earnest protestations of the Silicon Valley set and their pet banksters, it’s not exactly Morning in America now. There’s some room for the return of aggressive coloration, and I think we’re already seeing it in examples like the lime-green Honda Civic Coupes out there.
There’s also some history to indicate that vehicle exteriors become more elaborate as available performance diminishes. We’re already on the far curve of the family car horsepower war, so maybe now’s the time for a little Laudau, a bit of Brougham, in our everyday haulers. And as Polonius once said, two-tone paint jobs follow vinyl tops as the sun doth follow the day.
Rolls-Royce never truly gave up on the two-tone look; in fact, one good way to tell a Spur from a Mulsanne at a distance is by color. The Wraith and Ghost are rather fetching in contrasting shades, if I do say so myself. Which means there is reason for someone to copy them. Don’t count out the Germans … if the Maybach misadventure taught us anything, it’s that there’s some love in the Fatherland for a pimped-out paint job.
What say you, dear reader? Would today’s CUVs be improved by a beltline contrast? I rather think they would. At the very least they would look longer and lower, even if that somewhat defeats the point of putting a box on stilts.