I have a car and a van, both white. White isn’t quite as deathly boring as hearing-aid-beige, but it’s close. The only reason we have two white vehicles is because
1) we live in Texas where the sunshine can raise the interior temperature of a car so high that you can fire pottery, and
2) they were cheap, and the idea of spending extra on metallic paint with the words “college loan” looming was just too much.
Despite my pratical color selection, I look at both cars in the morning and tell myself I’ll never have a white car again. As I drive to work I get misty eyed at the sight of other colors, green, black, silver, but especially red. Red is the color cars were made for (or perhaps it was the other way round?). It’s been that way since manufacturers used up their all-purpose thick black buggy-wagon stuff. The right shade of red glows on a car. You can see the shape, the suble changes in lighting and reflection are emphasised. I don’t think there is a car made that doesn’t look better in red. Of all the colors other than white, there is one I just couldn’t choose.
Yellow is horrible. Organically (unless you’re a flower) it’s associated with bad things, and the only shades that aren’t garish look even more like those bad organic things. Whatever shade of yellow you choose, it screams and shouts. In fact, the shades higher up the spectrum scream, stamp their feet as well. And the only thing that really muted, almost white shades of yellow generate is the question “did it fade?” Which is a horrible question, because what do you say? Yes, it used to require sunglasses to look at? Or no, and go on to admit that you really did choose that color, on purpose.
Thing is, cars still get painted yellow. Makers of cheap cars use it to make their cars stand out, and it works, they stand out all right, but only in a negative way. Concept car makers use it at cars shows, at least the ones that don’t have a concept and throw their concept together at the last moment do. Take the Daewoo No 1and the Dodge Neon Expresso (some might say “please” at this point). If they had chosen anything but yellow these crimes against motoring humanity could have been raised to merely stupid and ugly, their failings would have slipped through the net of human memory and be gone, like nature healing a car shaped rip in the space-time contnium.
There is a website devoted to yellow cars at yellowcars.tribe.net. As brave as these people are in defending their favorite color, even they admit the enormity of the task in their manifesto, where they quote the site is
For people who drive cars that are the greatest color, YELLOW! Or as membership is lax, people who have ridden in your yellow car. As you all know, painting your car yellow not only makes it go faster, it improves fuel efficiency and reduces engine wear.
I like their humor on the “reduces engine wear” bit, but that’s probably because people are too embarrassed to take them out of their garage.
There are some cars where yellow doesn’t look too bad, not good, but not too bad, Ferraris and Corvettes, for example. Yellow is popular on Lamborginis as well, but not Maseratis. Then there is the Mini and Fiat 500, better in red of course, but not so bad in yellow.
So how come some cars can just about get away with yellow? I have a simple theory based on two rules.
1) If the car is a lemon, don’t paint it yellow. None of the above cars is a lemon, and if forced into a yellow jacket they all survive with their dignity intact.
But what about, say, a BMW Z4? It’s not a lemon, but but they look like %$#!& when painted yellow. This brings us to rule 2,
2) If a car isn’t barking mad to start with, don’t paint it yellow. Lambos are all mad, so they can cope with yellow. The Fiat and the Mini? Well, they’re nutty that a squirels breakfast. Ferraris and Corvettes are pretty mad, but the Maserati? No, not mad, and not good in yellow.
What about the Z4, you say? No, no BMW could ever really be said to be mad. Engineered to the limit, built to perfection or blinged out beyond belief, yes, but mad? No. So don’t go taking a five gallon pot of yellow to your new Bimmer.
So there you go, a quick (opinionated) guide to car color that just might stop you making a fool of yourself with your next car purchase. Unless you already have a yellow car, in which case you can tell me all about it and set me straight on my car color bais.
My wife has a bright red Jeep, and I have a boring tan Ford Escape. If she’s just finished washing hers, it’s one of the most beautiful cars around and puts mine to shame. After an hour or a day or whatever, though, hers looks filthy, while mine still looks clean no matter how much dirt is on it. I love red, but this has been a real eye-opener for me.
Yes, the more special the finish, the more obvious it is when its dirty. I had a car like yours once. It was the color of road grime and you could never tell when it was dirty. Saved a fortune in car washes!
Thanks for the comment.
As long as I get through the day without someone else’s car paint on my car I’m happy with the color. In cars I tend toward the boring colors. My wife announced that she will pick her own car color next time. That’s going to complicate the cosmic balance in our personal universe but I’ll have to take courage and let it happen.
LOL. Not living up to your “rainbow” moniker, then?
Look on the bright side, my daughter wants a bright pink convertible. Mind you, I have plenty of years to lower her expectations!
I don’t like red cars, specially the brighter reds. Down into what we used to call “Candy Apple” red, that’s okay, but just okay.
My van is white. I love the anonymity of white. A white van is like driving a cloak of invisibility.
But if I were ever to purchase a new car on my own, a pretty sedan or a snazzy van conversion, I’d go for pearly seafoam or sage green, or possibly a deep, rich olive. Other than green, give me navy blue. It just always looks good.
I live in Texas, too, which is another reason to avoid hot colors such as red, or (Yuck!) yellow. And no black! Boring and ominous, too!
There was a time, when I was about 21, when I really wanted a yellow VW convertible. But when push came to shove, I bought a sea-green Olds Cutlass Supreme convertible with deep green interior. Loved that car. I saw it a few years ago, looking good, driven by a hunky cop fellow. Great car–but I’m not a car expert, so will add “IMHO.”
You’re right, white is the blend-in color, especially in Texas. And I’m with you on black. It looks ok on some cars, but it is pretty boring. I find blacked out windows kind of ominous, and they take away a lot from the look of a car.
Oh, and it sounds like that “hunky cop” might have swayed your opinion of that Olds, too 🙂