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The Most Popular Car Colors and The Modern Paint Technology

Henry Ford once said about his Model T, "you can have any color as long as it's black". When I was a kid in the 60's the cars in my neighborhood were always painted cool colors. One neighbor owned a 59 Nash Rambler painted Plumb Purple. There were Orange Plymouth Road Runners. We had a Harvest Gold 67 Chevy Impala wagon. With the spring weather here I am seeing all the classic cars out riding around the neighborhood. And they are beautiful.
Posted: April 27, 2018 - 5:50PM
Author: John Falk

What do you think is the reason all cars seem to have the same boring colors?

There are many reasons why white, black, silver and other earth tones are popular paint finishes on today's cars. From the 1940's to the 1960's manufacturers used acrylic lacquer paint. These finishes made production easy because they dried very quickly. Lacquers were highly pigmented so colors were richer. Factors such as UV rays and even water, tend to fade the vibrant colors. In today's auto paint technology you have adhesion testing, chip testing and other quality standards conducted for paint durability. Without those standards, using vibrant colors would cause paint to become brittle.

Modern paint technology.
Today's modern paint technology uses various materials and clear coats to get a durable long lasting finish, superior to anything that went before. Mica for instance gives a pearlescent finish to the cars paint. Many colors these days use mica and aluminum in various sized flakes to give the finish a dimensional quality. A clear coat is applied and you have a beautiful paint job.

Why aren't we opting for cool colors?
There a number of reasons why people don't opt for cooler colors for their cars. Rental and fleet buyers, tend to lean toward white, black and earth tone colors. When those cars come off of their leases or are sold at rental car dealerships, you end up with a white car. I purchased a Chevy Malibu that was once a rental car that was white. I always purchase, "new to me" and have had my share of cars painted white. In those cases you can't be choosy about paint color because the choices are limited. The same is true at the dealership. Many times the cars in the showroom are white, black or silver. You will see a car painted Cobalt Blue but those colors tend to be special order. That is where the boring color comes in. Many people don't want to wait for a special order color and so a silver car becomes the choice.

Which colors are most popular?
A global supplier of liquid and powder coatings for automotive finishes showed that worldwide, 37 percent of all new vehicles were painted white. Breaking that down further, 27 percent were white while 10 percent were pearlescent white. Black was second at 18 percent and silver was third at 11 percent. In North America the color red is the most popular. In Europe it's blue and in Asia the color is yellow and gold.

Final Thoughts.
I miss the colors cars used to be painted back in the 60's. These days though there are some stunning colors available. Chevrolet has their 50th anniversary Hot Wheels Camaro available in Hyper Blue Metallic. You can find Chevy Spark models painted in pastel pinks, greens and yellows. Toyota sells it's C-HR model with a white painted roof. A nod to the two tone paint finishes popular in the 50's. Tesla has black as the standard color for the Model 3, a nod to Henry Ford I think. Any color other than black is a 1000 dollar option for that car. I even spotted a Porsche Panamera on the tollway in a chrome gold paint finish. An it was actual chrome you might find on a cars bumper. The guy was from California with a Beverly Hills plate on his car.

Also see: Here Are Some 9 New Color Requests for Tesla Model 3.