- A 1970s Lime Green Dodge Dart (credit: musclecardefinition.com)

Why are modern car colors so bland?

Cars were colorful in decades past, now why do modern cars lack striking colors?

6w ago
14.1K

If you've seen pictures of cars from the 1960s or 70s, then you know about the colorful paint schemes on cars in the past. From bright orange, to neon green, all these eye catching colors were commonplace in the decades of the past. So why then do modern cars seem so bland, with colors like gray, black, and white? Well the reasoning is based on the market, the consumers, unfortunately do not want to buy flashy, and bright colored cars.

According to Kelly Blue Book, the top three most popular colors among SUVs were, white, black, and gray. For Minivans it was white, gray and black being tied, and silver. For Pickup Trucks, it was white, gray, and black. This shows the trend that bland and uninteresting colors have taken over the market.

One significant reason on why people don't buy brightly colored, and interesting colored cars, is because the resale value on cars which these colors is significantly lower than a car which is white, or gray. This effects why a majority of consumers pick a relatively bland color. Another significant factor is that maintaining the paint for colorful cars, is generally more difficult than the color for traditional colors.

A Bright Orange Volkswagen Golf (credit: The Toronto Star)

A Bright Orange Volkswagen Golf (credit: The Toronto Star)

People also, generally seem to have lost interest in cars as well, and the majority of consumer cares more about practicality than fun. Which is sad, because I love being old cars with crazy colors, some of my favorite old cars to see in bright orange is the 1969 Dodge Charger, and the 1980 BMW M1.

A 1980 BMW M1 (credit: Top Speed)

A 1980 BMW M1 (credit: Top Speed)

I hope you enjoyed reading my short article on car colors, and please let me know what you think about car colors in the comments.

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Comments (24)

  • Yes, decades ago, many cars went to the scrap yard instead of being resold. Electric blue is hard to resell. But, another reason is that the chemical make up of auto paint has been forced to change for environmental reasons. Since around the mid to late 70's, automotive paint was based upon oil based lacquers that used pigments that were based upon heavy metals like cadmium, chromium and lead. Getting funky colors using water based paints without heavy metals is expensive and difficult. In fact, it took decades for Hotwheels to perfect a safe replacement to the poisonous Spectra-Flame paints.

      1 month ago
    • Interesting, thank you for sharing this, as I did not know that was the case.

        1 month ago
    • Topher, thank you for enlightening us on this topic; very interesting & important! Well done, mate!!

        1 month ago
  • The 50's were about optimism, car colours reflected that. Two and three-toned cars were not at all uncommon. They got even better in the 60's when self expression and the psychedelic revolution ruled the day. Things started to become dour in the 70's when 'earthy tones' ruled the roost. The 80's saw an explosion of corporate sameness, when greys, beiges, and charcoals somehow became favourable. That decade was the end of two-toned cars as well, unfortunately. I remember a brief period in the early 90's when bright turquoise and vivid greens made a short comeback. Fast forward to today when there is a plethora of choices, so long as you like white, black, and grey. There might be an occasional red or dark blue if you're feeling particularly risky. You'd think that with 99% of cars these days looking so mind-numbingly boring and ugly, that there would at least be a rainbow of colours to liven things up, but no. One of the sad aspects of this craphole society we live in now.

      1 month ago
    • There's somewhat of a movement to at least bring back interestingly colored interiors now I think. You can get a glorious bright red interior on even your Mazda3 or Toyota Camry and lots of high end cars have been coming out with all blue...

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        1 month ago
  • The truth is, you’ll normally get a better resale value on an unusual color, because the person that wants that color will have less choice, and you’ll be able to ask for more for it. Don’t just take my word for it. There was some research published recently that backs this up, although annoyingly I can’t remember the paint manufacturer that published it.

      1 month ago
    • Fundamentally false:

      1. Economically speaking, you're suggesting that the demand for unusual cars will be higher than supply. That is only the case with limited goods (in car world, let's say a Giulia GTAm), which mainstream cars, no...

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        1 month ago
    • I had a feeling someone would force me to Google it. Here you go: www.iseecars.com/car-color-study#v=2014

        1 month ago
  • It’s simpler than all this. Dealers want to sell the cars they have on hand in inventory. Most people can live with a white, black, or gray variant of a colour, particularly if there’s some flake in it for a bit of sparkle. They might WANT blue but will settle for a nice metallic gray. So dealers order what they know they can move quickly. Automakers see those dealer orders and tailor the colours to the option packages - remember a gray car can be sold anywhere, so they are great for dealer trades. Boom. All of a sudden dealers are selling a lot of white, black, gray, and automakers are building a lot of the same because they are selling them quickly to the dealers and they are getting more to replace what they sold quickly.

    And now we have bland colours. Just like no manual transmissions. Dealers can’t sell them as fast so they don’t want to order them. No brown cars. No wagons. No manuals. No brown manual wagons.

    Instant gratification and “drive it home today” sales means mediocrity for everyone! BOO! HSSSS!!!

      1 month ago
  • I'd really like to have a car with a crazy colour. No money, though... So I bought one of my favourite, instead: dark blue (goes by the name of "Barents Sea blue pearlized"). Before that: sky blue metallic. I really dig nice colours.

      1 month ago
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