A World Tour Of Car Color Choices

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

According to an infographic in the WSJ, based on research undertaken by Hyundai-Kia, the US doesn’t just buy a huge number of vehicles… we buy our cars a greater diversity of colors than any other market in the world. Sure, silver, grey, black and white still make up just over 60% of our new cars, but amazingly that’s one of the lowest percentages among large markets. By comparison, those four colors represent a whopping 885 of all new cars sold in South Korea. China and Japan buy 79% and 78& of their cars in those four colors respectively, but China is the only nation represented with a significant proportion of yellow cars sold, at 3%. Why? I’d guess it has something to do with the fact that yellow was once forbidden from buildings and garments, reserved for the Imperial family by sumptuary law (although it could be a more recent craze for “Bumblebee” edition Camaros). Meanwhile, India and US have the highest rates of (literally) green cars, at four percent, Europe has the blues, with 18% ordered in that color, and red-blooded Americans still buy the most red cars at 12%. And with a full 9% of new cars purchased in a color not represented here, the US has the most offbeat car colors as well… a distinction that seems fitting to our individualistic, car-worshipping culture.

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  • John Horner John Horner on Jul 17, 2011

    Look at some new car color chips from the 1950s and you will see that our current selection is rather limited and dull. Have a look at the choices one had for a 1958 Chrysler: http://www.tcpglobal.com/autocolorlibrary/aclchip.aspx?image=1958-chrysler-pg01.jpg

    • Geozinger Geozinger on Jul 18, 2011

      @John Horner: You have to remember, that possibly up to three of those colors could be on the same car!

  • JMII JMII on Jul 18, 2011

    Look at the color choices Volvo offered the C30 in... http://www.carsdirect.com/2008/volvo/c30/colors similar to the Mini customization was one of the main selling features of the car. Colors owned between the wife and I in model years: '83 Tan, '85 Red/Grey (two tone), '88 Black, '89 Yellow, '93 Red, '96 Green, '96 Black, '97 Green, '00 Blue, '02 Silver, '08 White. My next car: Blue, Orange or Burgundy (350Z), I really want the Orange "Le Mans Sunset". I bought my truck ('02) in silver on purpose because I knew cleaning it was going to be a low priority and my previous ('96) truck was black and way too hot for South Florida. I personally hate white but our '08 C30 is a nice pearl off-white "Cosmic White" only because finding a used 6 speed example was hard enough, we pretty much had to give up on getting "Passion Red" which what the wife wanted.

  • Nikita Nikita on Jul 18, 2011

    Ive always hated gray, nothing duller. Glad to see it "fade" in popularity here, along with boring silver. Always liked blue and red. Current fleet consists of a white Tundra (only white, gray and black were on the lot), blue Honda Fit and red Karmann Ghia. Interesting side note, gold was used as a neutral color for styling mockups at least at Ford and GM years ago.

  • Geozinger Geozinger on Jul 18, 2011

    I've always liked dark blue on cars with slab sided bodies. Our current G6 is that way, in midnight blue. I generally prefer cars with less noticeable colors, due to the fact that I used to like to travel at extra-legal speeds regularly. But as I've gotten older, I care less about traveling at warp speed. My wife, likes her cars with a lot of color, usually the brighter the better. When we got our 2004 Aztek, it came in a shade of metallic orange called Fusion Orange. In certain sunlight conditions it could look really orange or even a copper color. It was everything I could do to keep her from ordering one of those see-me-from-outer-space yellows that were popular on the Aztek line. The orange was the lesser of two evils, in my mind. There was a slew of Pontiacs painted in that color orange during the mid-00's, I see plenty of Grand Ams, G6's, Sunfires painted that way. I have a pewter-colored Cavalier as a daily driver. Pewter was that goldish-tinted silver color GM slathered on every car/truck/SUV/ back in the late 90's-early 00's. Now, as the clear coat has faded off, it's getting a neat kind of patina that I really like. It's like a flat silver kind of color, which sets off my machined uncoated aluminum wheels really well. Too bad rust will claim the rest of the body eventually...