Looking through old family photos, I chuckle at the car colors that my grandfather, his brothers and their friends owned. Cars were not very easy to own back then so many women did not own cars. The men just owned them and drove the family around actually cars were just a reserve for the rich. My dad owned weird red car that looked like it had been put together by an adventurous ten year old. He was so proud of it, despite its horrible paint job that shows through the horrible photo quality of that time. In all his photos, he has one arm resting so proudly on the car ‘roof’ and the other happily around my mother’s waist hard to tell which he loves more, I highly suspect it was the car.
Either way, he is a happy man in those photos. More than fifty years later, he proudly owns a sleek black Honda that he keeps in immaculate condition. He has watched the full car evolution and owned probably hundreds of cars in this period. He is a car enthusiast and has passed that on to his sons. It really does get interesting talking about it now. We have come a long way from the horrendous green, dull gray and weirdly colored motor vehicles.
What were the first car colors?
Henry Ford once said, “A customer may have a car in any color he desires, as long as it is black.” This statement cracks me up every time I stumble on it. I love black cars, but I love colored cars with the love that I am saving for my children when I do get them, eventually. A sleek red colored car makes my blood race; navy blue colored cars ring the elegance bells, yellow cars are full of life and happiness
With the invention of cars, the color was never a significant factor. The first cars were mainly unpainted, which was in the 1890’s and the 1900’s. When they began painting cars, the color used was black. It is because black was the cheapest and most readily available paint. A little variation would mean a dark grey. It did not just apply to cars; most heavy machinery were all painted black. You may ask, is it that these people were too dull and boring? Were paints not available in bright and beautiful colors?
Well, there were lots of bright, fancy colors to go with the cars but:
- They were expensive. The paints were a costly buy and deemed unnecessary, except by the wealthy class that were quite few. Cars were already a symbol of wealth without the fancy and pricey paint jobs.
- The paint quality was not entirely compatible with the automobiles. Despite being luxurious and extremely fancy, they did not last long on the cars. There were no superior methods to bind the paint to the cars. In no time, they would fade out and peel off, requiring several paint jobs over short periods of time.
- The painting process was complicated and sensitive. The time needed was too much, and the paint took several days to dry. The tiniest of objects or movements would ruin the paint jobs. Sometimes the painters would even do the job naked! Imagine that! Naked painters painting yur car as you watch! I sure would not mind that sight.
In the 1920’s, the colors took a turn, and some colors came to life. Exotic color green, yellow, reddish and blue colors on cars were birthed. They were a little extra and painted little birdies in different colors on the vehicles.
After World War 1, the car paints took a turn. There were much better quality paints being produced. Use of Chinese wood oil, which could be sprayed or painted on, was gaining popularity. Drying tunnel ovens for the automobiles were invented. Time spent drying out the paint was significantly reduced. So yes, color in cars was coming to life!
Popular car colors in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
In this era, the colored car rage was taking over. Regular colors as we know them were taking a back seat and colors like chestnut metallic, Camelot red, peacock blue, and burgundy were taking over the car scene This was also the year of the metallic color craze, Sunlit Metallic Green, Acapulco Metallic Blue, Sequoia Metallic Green and others like Iris Metallic Mist . Fancy color names, right? Makes me wish I was around then. Would probably have owned an Embargo Metallic Ford. Cars were more available, getting affordable to more classes of citizens at this time.
In 1972, there was an Ontario orange that was widely popular with corvettes and all young people were obsessed with owning corvettes in this color. Orange was a huge wave in this year, with clothes and even home décor splashed in all shades of orange. Colors like Plum red, Lemon green, Banana yellow (Okay I made that one up) were getting popular.
A friend recently imported a bright green car and the first time he showed up to our weekly poker game in it, all the guys were making snide smart-ass comments. It has been a really long time since any of us actually me one with a bright color car. It was something different, something funny and something exciting too. Made me wish I was a bit adventurous. It made me realize that adventure really was lacking as far as experimenting with car colors goes.
Non Black Cars Today.
With more car colors available and at great costs, it is easy to get whatever car color you love. We have come so far from the age of unpainted boring cars and here we are. Car colors are just a reflection of our personalities. Happy people go all out with splashes of color, bright yellows and pinks, flashy greens and bright reds. We mysterious people hide behind our black cars with tinted windows, navy blue, gray and dark greens. Gangsters and mob bosses find comfort in their darker than dark cars as they execute their creatures of the night rounds. Boring wallstreet brokers, snakeskin salesmen and nagging insurers brokers prowling the neighborhoods in their spotlessly clean white cars. Excited teenagers in their pink and blue little new cars owned for the first time. Young Professionals with their sleek silvers cruising down to their favorite hangouts in their pristine suits after a long day at the office. When it comes to car colors, in this day, there is something for everyone.
However, the evolution of the non-black car has gone full circle and come back to rest at the founding colors of cars, White takes the lead as the most popular car, followed closely by black and then silver. The least popular being green and brown cars. As a self-declared lover of black cars, I see no problem whatsoever with that status quo.
I love that we went full circle and came right back to the “boring and dull” colors we started off with. This time though, they are sleek, sophisticated and used to make personality and status statements.
Are non-black cars cheaper?
Is this a valid question? Same car models in different color should be sold at the same prices right? Right and this is exactly as it is. That a car color will make it cheaper or more expensive is a myth. Other factors may feature here, for example if it is a used car, the condition it is in will affect the resale value, color not withstanding. Unusual car colors in unusual car models however, will attract cheaper prices. White cars are extremely popular and used cars in white have a perfect resale value. If you are at a dealer selling cars in different prices for same models, you might want to have a sit and have a longer conversation with them.
Maybe the bright colors would make the roads happier?
Why aren’t there more bright yellow cars on the road? Yellow is such a happy color. Pink, pink is such a smiley car. I’d get my child a bright pink car with equally bright purple bumpers but unfortunately, even teenagers are not with that rage anymore. Or bright greens? The roads would probably be a more joyful and peaceful place with car rainbows on the road, but guess we will never quite find that out. There would probably be no road rage with less motorists shouting profanities and shoving middle fingers at each other.
It has been an interesting metamorphosis for the car industry since the first motor vehicle was given to us. Like I mentioned earlier, the evolution of the non-black cars has gone full circle. Trends are not constant and you never quite know what another couple of years are going to bring to the roads. Probably multi colored cars will be a major fad soon. Paintless cars could make their way back to the road. Dull paints n monochrome shades may come back. In a couple of years, we will probably see more brightly colored vehicles back on our roads. We can only watch and wait.