By on May 28, 2020

In each and every one of us lurks a number of hidden longings. Yours truly, as a child and even later, used to yearn to one day work at the National Hurricane Center in Coral Gables, Florida.

That clearly didn’t pan out. They probably demand a degree in science-y things, the jerks. Oh well.

Other yearnings aren’t quite so specific, and I think one thing we all share as a diverse population of individuals is the desire for more choice. To express ourselves in one of the dwindling ways that’s still socially acceptable. I’m talking, of course, about color. Paint color.

What got me started on the paint kick, you ask? Obviously, by viewing sumptuous images of the new Lincoln Continental of 1970. It’s my firmly held opinion that the early ’70s were a good time for Lincoln sedan design, and that the switchover to Rolls-Royce-aping formal barge that occurred in the latter part of the decade was a bad thing for the brand.

While we tend to associate these late Nixon-era Lincolns with either black paint or some sort of brown-adjacent earth tone that was popular at the time, it seems that generation offered its buyers more than just the same old, same old. Philandering architects with drinking habits and a 30-footer at the marina could show their secretaries that they were willing to go their own way.

Beige and old mustard aside, it seems there’s few displeasing shades among them.

The latter two Lincolns seen above are seen wearing Red Moondust Metallic and Dark Aqua Blue, by the way…

And then there’s the grayscale-heavy choices we’re left with today. Things seem to be improving in some circles, as reds and blues creep back into common usage, joined in much smaller proportions by green — an elusive shade if there ever was one. Alas, many not-inexpensive models continue to offer consumers a threadbare buffet of paint.

Standing back and taking it all in, what model on sale today would do well with a little more excitement and diversity in its paint department? What shades deserve a chance, and… is the model in question something you’re driving right now?

[Images: Fiat Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, mjcclassiccars.com, topclassiccarsforsale.com]

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55 Comments on “QOTD: Embracing Your True Colors?...”


  • avatar
    DedBull

    A year ago my wife had to replace her Outlander Sport after an insurance total. We ended up with a new VW Tiguan, and my wife latched on to the bright Habenero Orange that was fresh off the truck. This was a premium color that was only offered in 2018 and 2019, discontinued for the 2020 models.It really glows when the sun hits it right. The paint color made the sale, my wife loves to stand out.

    I know it’s beating a dead horse, but I think the drab paint colors are the result of mega dealers and “gotta have it now” culture. Most people are indifferent to greyscale paints, so why would you inventory something that might only appeal to 5% of your market. If cars were instead built to order, you could offer a much broader palette because you don’t have to sit on that lime green or plum crazy until the right person walks in.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    It doesn’t matter the car, but I’ve always been partial to cars that were dark blue or dark green and since we’re limited by interior colors of black, grey and camel beige, both the blue and green work well with the camel beige

  • avatar

    Agree with DedBull. Perhaps the take from the housing market is in play in some minor way. According to “those who know” if you’re selling your house it’s best to have the rooms in light grey. This is supposed to help the house sell quickly. Theory is the potential buyer can more easily imagine their own color preferences. Maybe there are many folks “imagining” they are driving a more colorful vehicle even though they are in a “shades of grey” mode of transport.

    I think some of the blues I’ve seen are quite appealing. There’s a Jeep owner down the street from me whose vehicle is a pleasing in between green/blue. Emerald green would be a nice choice for me. I do like some of the more “bright” colors also – yellow, orange, lime green – depending on the vehicle in question. If I wasn’t buying used last year I would have sprang for blue if I could have found one. As is I settled for white as most of the potential candidates were black or some shade of grey which I did not want.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Well, our Challenger was ‘Header Orange’, and FCA in general has a good choice of colors.

    Lately, every other Subaru around here seems to be orange for some reason.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Random thoughts.
    – That red on the new Mazdas is incredible. Incredible.
    – Grey ruins the car,
    – Saw a new small chevy pick up yesterday. Dark Green. WOW.
    – GM has the perfect metal flake. They have for 30 years. Just right size flakes and amount. All else miss the mark.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    My wife and I were discussing this last week.
    There have been studies that show when the economy is good, color choices are better. When the economy is worse, you get browns and grays. There have been good color choice lately, and the economy just took a dump, and browns are coming back.

    She drives a red Edge, I drive BRG MINI

  • avatar
    David

    The purple/blue offered by Maserati is my current favorite color: vibrant and engaging, especially in the evening sun.

    Most Toyotas and Hondas should spend more time on their color tones and choices: somehow even their reds are blah.

    PS Steph the writing always makes me chuckle. Keep writing! :D

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I want GM to bring back the emerald green they had in the 1990s. I sometimes wish I had been the right age and income to buy a mid 90s Bonneville SSE in that shade with the tan cloth interior that was almost like corduroy.

    I did my part to promote color by picking Rioja Red for my Buick.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    I think the colors tend to go in cycles. In the 80s into the mid 1990s, things were a bit more upbeat with the outlook on life, our country, etc., and the colors reflected that. Lots of bright teals, yellows, oranges, greens, and reds made everything stand out.

    Post 9/11, things were a bit more somber, there were two wars going on, plus huge trucks and SUVs were the rage, so the colors toned down a lot. A bright teal Suburban or Hummer just wasn’t in the cards! There were still the greens and blues, but they were much darker to the point when at night or in the shade, they were almost black.

    Fast forward to now (and over the past decade) where it seems the national mood and outlook is rather grim and the colors reflect that. The Germans especially know how to give us 10 different shades of gray and silver, and most cars lots are just a sea of black, gray, and silver, with a few red, beige, or blue cars thrown in to break things up.

    Of course having to pay extra for some color on your car probably has a lot to do with this. Mazda’s stunning Soul Red is $600 (I believe.) Their “Polymetal Gray” which looks blue in direct and bright light is also extra, and is also stunning in light. Most European car makers charge a minimum of $500 for any kind of splash of color on a car.

    And so we look over at a sea of monochrome cars.

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      People plan this stuff. These are products— consumer demand does not drive the industry. We just pick from what’s available.

      The ‘legacy’ automotive industry is’t exactly in the business of fast fashion— they’re going to make safe choices, like any active, vital, senior would. They’re basically in the Silver Sneakers club.

      They make what sells twice. Greyscale.

      Remember in The Devil Wears Prada— whenever mean old Miranda was admonishing sweet little Andy about the Zeitgeist and about how her plain blue sweater had been chosen for her by a benevolent fashion pantheon, and was, in-fact, cerulean?

      That’s what happens when people pick which colors we can buy on our Jeeps and Toyotas.

      Pantone exist and they run the color industry. Automotive functions below that.

      What were we talking about, again?

  • avatar

    In the world of endless grey-gray, with white and sometimes black, I’ve noted that car makers will often rotate a color in and out. I’ve a silver grey MDX…it was the on-the-lot color, buy it now. Over time, I’ve seen them, one year only, do a nice german brown…a navy blue…a maroon color. Rarest of all, a green color. Still most are gray.

    Ace of Base Jetta ? Grey, Black, White and Blue. At least I got the blue….if you want to cry, look at VW Europe color choices, but I guess you can do that when most folks get a build – to – order.

    My current DD is Emerald Green. In many lights it looks black, but in direct sunlight it has a deep reflection…..one year only color, car built to order.

    Moral of the Story…if you don’t have to buy TODAY, you can get a color, it will just be more effort. Otherwise, you get the non color that the sales manager orders for stock…and the car makers produce because it sells…rinse and repeat.

    There is a legit stealth aspect, though. In the cops and speeders game, we are pack animals, so maybe you don’t want that 911 in Taxi Yellow.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ve had 6 white cars, so I guess I can’t get enough of it.

    My first car was orange (a Pinto, coincidentally), but I’m not sure I want that color again.

    My current DD is a bright blue Ioniq; Hyundai got that color right.

    No more gray/silver for me – one was enough.

    I’d like to see more deep greens make a return.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      I generally don’t like white, but I do like the “Stormtrooper” look that you can get when pairing Bright White exterior color with the Night package (blacked out badging and accents) that FCA offers on some models.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Ford should bring back their designer “Glow” paints for their big Lincoln SUVs. They had so much depth and appeared “wet”. These were extra cost, and sometimes special order. Here’s a few, but I sure there’s more.
    Tan Ginger Glow
    Gold Glow
    Walnut Glow
    Bronze Ginger Glow
    Dark Ginger Glow
    Ivy Glow
    Silver Blue Glow
    Chamois Glow
    Bright Aqua Glow
    Emerald Glow
    Jade Glow
    Copper Glow
    Red Glow
    Blue Glow
    Vaquero Glow
    Bittersweet Glow
    Academy Blue Glow
    PS Jeep needs to bring back Renegade Grape

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Porsche Viper Green…All Cars should be offered in this color. Should I keep the Fiesta I am going to make it into a 20,000 dollar 10,000 dollar car one day by painting it this color.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Current fave is Mazda’s Soul Red, which is a cool shade to begin with, and has a translucent quality in sunlight.

    Also a fan of Audi’s Navarra Blue.

    • 0 avatar
      make_light

      Yes that Audi blue is gorgeous. My A4 is Scuba Blue, Navarra’s predecessor. Waited and waited until a used A4 showed up at my local dealer in that color. That was over two years ago, and I haven’t seen a used scuba blue A4 for sale at that dealer since. So thankful that I bit the bullet and bought it.

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      That a really deep and brilliant red. It’s depth reminds of Ford’s old “glow” paints, but those were more formal colors.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Mazda knows that “Soul Red” is so good that they make sure most of their press cars are painted that color. It has become almost as synonymous with them as “British Racing Green” has become for English brands.

  • avatar
    lstanley

    For no good reason other than this is a vehicle paint thread, I used to work for a person who had a Mercury Mariner Hybrid in that crazy Kiwi Green Metallic.

    She worked for Lincoln Mercury prior to the company we worked at and while riding to some work event together in her Kiwi Green Metallic Mariner, I was one second away from making some smart ass comment about the color of her car and what crazy person at Mercury had the balls to push Kiwi Green Metallic out to the public.

    Yup.

    She was the Mariner marketing manager and was one of the final approvers for the color.

    That was almost a serious CLE – a Career Limiting Event. Thank goodness I never said that out loud to her.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Whatever else you might say about the Kiwi Green Metallic, it doesn’t photograph well. I was looking at an Escape for sale, and three photos in the online ad looked like three different colors.

      It wasn’t until I saw the actual car that I realized what it actually looked like. It wasn’t a deal breaker, the price was, but I owned a Mercury in Sea Foam Green, so I’d have been satisfied with it if I’d bought it.

  • avatar
    make_light

    I’ve never compromised on car color. If I’m gonna spend money on a thing, I want it in the color I like best. Surely there’s situations where people don’t have that luxury, but if I’m going to drive something everyday, color is important.

    I drove what must have been one of the first Crosstrek’s in the now-signature orange color. Got a ton of compliments and thumbs up on that thing at first, but kind of did grow to hate how I could be spotted anywhere I went. Now orange Crosstrek’s are everywhere (at least here in the northeast)…..

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      Focus ST Tangerine Scream same story. I loved the color because it was out of the greyscale, but then everybody picked it out of a crowd. Because it was model specific, those in the know kept trying to goad me into yobbishness. It got tiresome.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I want FCA to do a 2.0t 6-speed manual 4×4 Jeep Compass Tsi with rear buckets and a full-length console.

    It should come in Plum Crazy purple with a white roof, Mirror caps and wheels— and it should have a willful teal splash graphic.

    Perhaps it could get shiny white plastic badging that could say ‘eXpresso,’ or ‘neon?’ ☺️

    The same console and seats could be added to a luxe trim and sold as an Overland. The mini Imperial v. the Roadrunner Jr.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    About a year ago my mom was replacing a 2017 Focus whose transmission started acting Focused. Neither one of us were particularly interested in dealing with the multiple software updates meant to “fix” the issue so I took mom out to look.

    My main criteria, because mom is uncomfortable driving a 6 speed, is that it be a torque-convertor automatic (no CVTs, no dual clutches of any sort – see reason for unloading it). Because I’d had such good luck with Mazdas, I drove over to a local dealership on a lark. I’d assumed she would be driving a Sport model, and I’d assumed that she would be getting something black, white, or silver. It was to be her car, and she doesn’t particularly care about such minutiae and only wants it to work properly and not break the bank. I was correct on the notion that she’d be getting a Sport Mazda3, but pleasantly surprised when the salesman pulled up in white I consider a denim-blue Mazda3. It was a leftover 2018, but otherwise a wonderful car. The color looks great and I dare say the 2 litre almost works better with the automatic than mine did with the manual.

    FCA’s current color pallette always makes me look twice. I’d rock a Charger or Challenger in Plum Crazy any day of the week.

  • avatar
    NoID

    My wife’s Durango SXT was ordered with the “In-Violet” color scheme, but the photos online are misleading because under anything but the brightest sunlight it looks black. As such our Purple People Mover is heavy on the people-moving but light on the actual purple.

    I’m currently driving a “Galaxy Gray” Mazda, but my next vehicle is probably going to be a Challenger SXT in one of the more obnoxious of the Fifty Shades of Gay that they offer. I had a one in Go Mango flavor all priced out and ready to order prior to the COVID-19 crisis, but a 20% pay cut of indeterminate length (and no need to drive anywhere for 2+ months) curbed my enthusiasm.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    I own plenty of vibrantly hued vehicles, but to any MFR reading this, EVERY vehicle should be offered in shades of green. I was behind a Tiguan today that was a sweet shade of green, not quite BRG but pleasantly close.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    The modern VW Beetle had lots of unique subtle colors available. Every one of them caught my eye.

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    I see they made a movie out of Audi’s colour palette: Fifty Shades of Gray.

  • avatar
    86er

    “It’s my firmly held opinion that the early ’70s were a good time for Lincoln sedan design, and that the switchover to Rolls-Royce-aping formal barge that occurred in the latter part of the decade was a bad thing for the brand.”

    I would like all auto writers to stop with this trope. Rolls was hardly the only manufacturer, even at the time, using an upright grille. Mercedes was also doing so, and the design itself was a nod to the formal radiator grilles of the classic period.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    We have a roadster in Intruder Purple, a sedan in Blue Streak Pearl and a new to us (13k miles used) van in Velvet Red Pearl. Our 2000 Durango is Driftwood Metallic. At least it doesn’t show dirt much.

  • avatar
    amwhalbi

    My first car was a ’66 Malibu convertible in a color called Aztec Bronze. Imagine a red somewhere between ruby and maroon, with a healthy doze of brown mixed in. Never saw one like it before or since. But I loved the color. Didn’t have the SS 396 SS engine (i wish), but the 283 8 cylinder pumped out 196 hp and was pretty decent. And hey, it was convertible – so it was awesome. T

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Wouldn’t trucks and SUV be the 1st vehicles for a two-tone comeback? Also, what happened to pin striping? Haven’t seen it on a vehicle in years. I imagine if GM looked really hard, they’d find that warehouse with the hounds-tooth cloth that used to be in Chevys and that brocade cloth that used to be in Caddys.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      Pinstriping would be great, so I could finally source some for my stellar blue over olympic white ’96 Sierra!

      • 0 avatar
        CincyDavid

        Port Charlotte Honda VW has single tape stripes and clear dooredge guards on everything they lay their hands on…I was in there the other day for an oil change. Cheesy “superstore” with a big phone room to drum up leads, so I probably wouldn’t buy from them anyway, but great service dept.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Or Nissan Rogue has grey pinstripes on grey paint.

        One of the finance people here has a Grand Caravan with black pinstripes on grey paint.

        The Rebel and Power Wagon you can get in two tone for years.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I am the wrong person to ask this question. My color choices throughout my entire car-buying history:

    Maroon
    Maroon
    Gray
    Tan
    Silver
    Gray
    Silver
    Maroon
    Gray-green
    White
    Silver
    Gray

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Mine were:

      Dark Silver
      Yellow and black. (Truck)
      Bright red.
      Maroon.
      Maroon and white (Truck)
      Light blue metallic (Minivan)
      Bright red over Grey (SUV)
      Sand (Changes colors in different light, SUV)
      Bright red. (SUV)
      Black. (truck)
      Maroon. (truck)
      Black.
      Hemi Orange (Detonator yellow was first pick)
      TorRed. (Yellow Jacket was first pick)

      One of these days I’m gonna get the yellow Challenger I’ve wanted forever.

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