Guest Post: What does your car color say about you?

Marie Brady is an architectural colorist based in Oakland, CA.  She has a background education in interior design and is a member of the IACC-NA. Her website is and a great blog.

What does your car color say about you?
By Marie Brady

We put so much thought and effort into our color choices for our homes and wardrobes.
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One choice that is not often on our radar until it's buying time is our car color preferences. Just as in color marketing and trending for fashion, household goods and other retail items, automotive color palettes evolve and shift yearly. The car industry is kept on it's feet guessing what we will want next.
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Ford Motor Research has shown that 39% of consumers will leave a dealership if they don't see the color of their choice. One of the biggest trend predictors for the automotive industry is DuPont.
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Each year they publish their Automotive Color Popularity Report. Car companies use this research as an authoritative baseline for color trending.

DuPont reports that as many as 40% of people would switch vehicle brands to get the color of their choice! Determining color palettes is not simple process. Designers seek to create harmonious interior and exterior color packages that will appeal to customers and enhance the design of the vehicle. GM rotates it's colors and tries to anticipate our color preferences each year. They introduce 3 new colors yearly while 3 colors get kicked out of production.
I recently was thrilled to find a stash of old 1960's Sherwin Williams/Ford car guides at an antique store. I wish I came across these little treasures more often! I purchased one from 1961 and one from 1967. It's startling to see how different the color palettes moved from the early to late 1960's! Experts say that the leading position of white in the 1960's and early 70's coincided with economic expansion.

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Later into the 70's, of course, we saw an explosion of earth tones.

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Did anyone have a parent driving around a lovely mustard yellow Corolla or avocado Plymouth?

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Boy did I want a LeCar in 1980 even though I was 3 years away from getting my license!

The 1980's was seen as a period of color while the 90's was an era of neutrals. Color started reappearing in the new millennium in a big way. For Asia, Europe and North America, silver is still the most popular color for cars. North America, says DuPont, is starting to lead the way in trends with rich shades of medium to deep metallic gray along with cooler reds and other high-chroma colors. This hints at a major shift of what's to come for automotive palettes.

Look at the change in color choices over the decades! Remember, paint technology evolves as well with each decade.

Color preferences become more distinct when you look at different lines of cars. White dominates 25% of the truck and SUV market.
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The higher end cars such as Mercedes-Benz tend towards more conservative colors such as silver, gray, black and white. The couture cars of the world, Rolls Royce and Bentley, are often custom ordered so it's not unusual for a customer to ask for a specific custom color. They will even match a fabric or color sample the customer provides.

Black is still perceived as upscale and classy so it is the most popular color in the luxury class. Yellows and blues are becoming quite sought after in sports and compact cars, while darker greens are receding. In fact blues across the board are gaining fans. For retro lovers, limited editions are advertised by some companies in unique palettes.
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This year Chevy Camaro is offering it's own version in the form of “Synergy Green” which hearkens back to their “Rally Green” color from it's first edition Camaro.

How much does color influence YOUR car buying decisions? Would you give up certain options to get the color of your choice?