As a young person in the 1970s and 1980s, my family and my friends had cars in all shades of colors. My Dad’s ’75 Plymouth Fury sported a frost green paint job. My neighbor’s ’72 Ford Fairlane shined a bright calypso coral. My aunt’s ’74 Oldsmobile Cutlass turned heads in Sebring yellow.
So why are the paint jobs on most of today’s cars so neutral? Even the hottest new electric cars, such as Polestar (above), Tesla (below), and Porsche Taycan (below), seem to feature the white models in ads and promotions.
Design experts suggest that today’s car color choices are defined by our obsession with technology. Perhaps we can blame it on Apple. “Prior to Apple, white was associated with things like refrigerators or the tiles in your bathroom,” says Sandy McGill, chief designer for BMW DesignWorks. “Apple made white valuable.”
In the latest issue of my AAA newsletter, the author Andrew Sheldon explains why the most common car colors have gone from all the luminous colors of the rainbow to a mix of black, white, and gray. Read the article: A Brief History of Car Paint.
In some ways, we’ve gone full circle. In 1908 Henry Ford told the press: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”
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