How do you go about choosing a color for your collector car? This can be a real headache for serious buyers because there are so many things to take into account. Obviously the first thing is that the color you choose is very personal to you – you wouldn’t buy a car in a color that you hated, would you?
Secondly, it may have a bearing on how much you can sell the car for. One thing that is guaranteed to bump up the value of the car is if it is in the same condition it was when it came out of the factory. When the car was manufactured it was registered with a serial number which can be used to check out a variety of things, including its original color. Instinctively, most people who think of classic cars imagine them to be red, yellow or black. They’d be right, but these cars were not made exclusively in those colors – others were available at the same time. Even as early as 1910, it was possible to pay a manufacturer to make you a car in any color you wanted – you could see all sorts on the roads in those days, from the sombre colors (which were most common up to the 1960’s) to the wild and wonderful ones of the 1970’s which were more descriptive such as Panther Pink and the famous Go Mango!
The yellow and black were certainly very popular – many people in the higher echelons of society drove the black cars (I’m including everyone from the President of the United States to the Mafia here!) It’s strange they chose to drive that color because black collector cars are notoriously high maintenance because it is so hard to keep them clean). Of course, the color of the interior of the car is as important as the exterior because times have changed. When your collector car was first made it would have had either matching or contrasting interiors in as many combinations as there were colors!
Perhaps the company who made their cars in the greatest variety of colors was General Motors. Back in 1953, it was possible to purchase 13 different colored cars (only two of which did not come with two tone combinations!). To add to the intensity of color, each series had a variety of interior trims which the buyer could match – or contrast – with the exterior, depending on what they wanted. There were various different types of Chevrolet brought out – the most popular of which was the Deluxe 210 which had a simple, sleek appearance – were much plainer in comparison with many of their sister cars. The reason for this was that they were marketed towards a different type of buyer - namely those who couldn’t afford the higher priced cars. The general public was offered a wide range of cars which were more practical than attractive to the eye, and as a result looked much plainer. More colors were added in 1954, much to the delight of the public, and the beauty was that they could get more two tone interiors!
It should be so easy to choose the color of your collector car, shouldn’t it? Just find one in your favorite color, right? Well, wrong, actually! Color is one of the most important factors in choosing the car for you.
It is important to check which colors were traditionally used in the making of your car. For example, in 1915 you would never have seen a panther pink car. If the one you are looking at now is that color, you know that it has been repainted. Don’t forget, the cars which are still in their original color are the most valuable ones. OK, so you now need to look inside and see what colors have been used there. Very often, the interior of these cars would be fairly neutral – perhaps grey, black or cream. This is great news because it cuts your work in half – you don’t need to worry about changing the interior to match your exterior because it will look great with any color you choose for your car. To take it to the other extreme, you wouldn’t want an interior with green leather seats because it would clash with your beautiful sunshine yellow car! The trick is to choose a car which looks beautiful and sleek because the interior and exterior are perfectly matched.
In the early days cars tended to come in just one color (Ford famously claimed to make any color you wanted – on condition it was black!) but gradually, in the early 1950’s manufacturers, changed to cars which were painted in two colors. Once two tones became popular, it was common to have the main body of the car painted in a dark color, while the trims were much lighter or contrasting.
There are occasions that the type of car you are buying dictates its color. Some kinds would look silly in different colors – have you ever seen a pink Rolls Royce? You would also be unlikely to find a red police car, although there would be no difficulty in getting a red Lamborghini. Obviously, you will want to try to keep to the original colors as far as possible. I’ve already mentioned a couple of the popular ones but others, such as Artillery Green, were used during particular eras (in this case, the second World War). Even if you are unable to get the exact color you want, it should be possible to locate one which is very close to what you want. It is important to bear in mind that you need to research thoroughly to find out what color the car was when it originally left the factory and, equally importantly, what shade of that color it was!
Even up to the mid-1950’s it was difficult to get any cars which came in bright colors – the most common ones were grey, brown and blue, with perhaps a little burgundy thrown in for good measure. There was only one brightly colored car (which is still as popular today) and that is sunshine yellow.
As a result, it is very important to bear in mind the age of your car when choosing what color you want. If you want a car from the 1970’s you will have a wider choice of colors, many of which were bold and beautiful. In common with that era, cars and clothes alike were bright and loud! They even came in wild colors which you wouldn’t expect, like lime green! When two tone colored
cars became popular, the manufacturers tended to use a blend of softer and harder colors. Black and red, or black and yellow were two of the most popular two toned cars, alongside plain red, blue and black. Interestingly, one thing that doesn’t seem to have changed very much throughout the course of history is that metallic colors have remained popular throughout that time. Silver and gold are equally common now as they were when car manufacturing first began. Gold was a particularly popular car color in 1974.
If you are determined to find out which colors were used in the era your car is from, there are a few websites which can tell you – especially the Auto Color Library. The beauty of this website is that it is split into various sections and subsections which guarantee that you can find exactly what you want. This extensive website gives many options and you can find out the colors used in various eras, or search by type of car. The color chart comes up and you can match the color of your car to see the exact name and shade.
If you are in the position that you need to repaint your car, the website claims that it is possible to recreate these colors using today’s auto finishes – they claim that they can create the muted tones of yesteryear. Strangely enough, we seem to have gone full circle and now, in the 21st century, the colors of our cars are much more conservative than they have been for many years. Some could argue we’ve gone back to the early 20th century as far as our taste in colors is concerned. It is far better to check the color your car would have been on this great website, rather than just go with what you would prefer, if historical accuracy is important to you. Some of the colors we use now would simply look wrong on an collector car and, as a result, it would be more difficult to sell it further down the line or it could cost you money.
It is also important that you think about what the car is used for (whether you’re driving it or it is simply for show). You need to consider how appropriate it is to paint a carriage car red – regardless of whether the car you use on a day to day basis is that color.
Of course, depending on your outlook on life, you may want to deliberately choose a color that would not have been used during your cars era if you want to stand out from the crowd!
When choosing what color you want your car to be, be aware that you are sending a message out to people who see your car which may be indicative of the type of person you are. Recent years have seen a return to some of the muted tones of the early 1900’s so it should be relatively easy to find a collectors car in a color you particularly It’s only natural that as times change, so do the colors of your cars – and also what that may say about the type of person you are. Ideally, if possible, try to find a compromise which makes a statement reflecting your personality, but also takes into account what the car should look like.
Let’s take a look at what some of those colors say about you now. I will keep them together in the time that they were popular.
Ford mass marketed black cars and they are still popular today, both in collector and modern cars. If you look back through history you will see that this color shows up repeatedly with powerful people (most Presidents drive in black cars) and the Mafia. Perhaps the reason for this is that it is associated with people who want to be taken seriously and won’t allow others to manipulate a situation – you are the one in control. They don’t want to be thought of as frivolous, needing to be seen to be in command. People who favor black cars often also dress in black because it makes them seem mysterious. A black car can indicate that the person driving it (or, more often, being driven) has another side to them or it can indicate that they are trying to hide something. Black, and other muted colors, can be great for inspiring the respect of your fellow businessman because they give the impression that you are an executive type of person. Black is a strong color but on the positive side it shows you have style and like classical things and that you want to appear sleek.
Moving to a slightly lighter color, grey cars make people assume that you are a grey person – in other words, that you are boring! Some people may deliberately choose a grey car to lull people into a false sense of security, but may have hidden depths. Just as a grey suit is sober, a car of the same color tells people that you are a practical kind of guy, well organized, calm and serious. This color indicates that you are a corporate kind of guy (or gal!) So what do you do if you love grey cars but want to make people realize how clever you are? Choose a charcoal one with shiny, sparkly bits! If they see you driving a car like this you will instantly tell them that you are charismatic and brilliant! Dark Green – interestingly this has been seen as an unlucky color (perhaps because army tanks are green?) A recent survey showed that very few people drive this colored car – so much so that manufacturers have don’t produce very many anymore. It has many different connotations but some people believe that if you drive a dark green car then you are very careful with money. So few are made that it is clear that you don’t spend money unnecessarily on buying new cars – you’ll keep it until you’ve run it into the ground! It can indicate that you are a reliable person who does not act rashly, carefully thinking out the result before taking any action.
Dark blue is a real “family” color because it tells people that you can be relied on in a crisis and to do people a favor – perhaps people play on your good nature and get you to drive all their kids to school before you head off to work? People who drive this color car are often believed to be the most truthful and, regardless of their
real feelings, they have an air of confidence (as opposed to arrogance) about them. They also seem to spend a LOT of time on the road – usually doing favors for other people!
I did intend to stick to the color types, but it’s interesting that if you drive a light blue car, you are telling people that you are quiet and reserved. You dislike making waves and are an oasis of calm. You think things through carefully but have a tendency to go with the flow so that if things don’t go to plan you can adapt easily.
Going back to the older colors, purple was very popular for a while. These are usually driven by outgoing, creative types who are not afraid to show their individuality. They are often driven by older people who frankly couldn’t care less what other people think of them – they are too set in their ways and wouldn’t change if they could! Unsurprisingly, the people who drive cars of this color are frequently in the entertainment or fashion industry in some way because they are able to show off their original style.
Next on the list is brown cars. You may be surprised to discover these are most frequently driven by the type of people who care deeply about the environment! Prior to doing this research, I expected that green was the color that people with these concerns would drive, but brown represents the earth and Mother Nature.
If you drive a tan car, you do still care about the earth, but you are also worried that someone may discover a secret you want to keep hidden. Perhaps you’ve got a lot of parking tickets hidden away like me! Seriously, if people see you in a car of this color they see somebody who appreciates the simple things in life and likes to keep things basic. It’s not much of a shift from tan to gold, which is – and always has been – one of the most popular colors of car throughout the years. It is almost as popular as black!
It doesn’t take much to work out what this color means because it’s used throughout history to show how wealthy people are. If you drive a gold car, you are showing how intelligent you are – that intelligence will make you very wealthy if you use it correctly! It also shows that you aspire to live in great comfort and you’re not afraid to work to achieve that goal. Perhaps you’re a workaholic?
Surprisingly silver shows that you are smooth and sleek, and also very elegant. You rarely get rattled in a crisis! Unfortunately, buying a silver collectors car will prevent you from standing out in a crowd because the world and hisv wife own that color – it’s right up there with black and gold. This color is a timeless classic and is often believed to show that the owner has a great imagination – scientists are apparently especially keen on this color car!
White cars are fascinating because things are not what they seem. Although they are a nightmare to keep clean – they show every speck of dirt and were very rarely used in collector cars – they indicate that you are fussy and want to blend in with the crowd. It’s a strange thing, but fewer people get pulled over by the police for speeding if they are driving a white car! However, whether that is because they are careful drivers is unclear – it could just be that the police notice brighter shades more easily.
The shade of red is vitally important because this sends out different messages!
Young people tend to drive the brighter shades which may have a hint of orange in them. They are great to show off in and frequently break the speed limit (statistically they get the most tickets!) These cars are driven by sexy and sassy people who just want to have fun and enjoy life. They are generally the people you see driving with their car roof down and music blaring out.
Often very trendy and talkative, it is also a very popular color through the years. Red shows the world that you are a passionate person who is so successful, you are earning a very high income!
A darker shade of red though, tells a different story. It’s tells the world that you are getting a little older, calming down more although still enjoying life to the full. The darker the shade the less energy you
have – perhaps it’s an age thing. People tend to cling onto their red cars, even if they are a darker shade, because the color makes them feel young.
Perhaps the most obvious one is the sunshine yellow car which many people think of when they imagine their dream collector car! The meaning of this is clear even to the uninitiated – you are a happy, joyful person who lives life to the full and has a good approach to a life in which the glass is always half full.It may surprise you to learn that there is a list produced every year which shows the popularity of car paint colors and this list is as important as the famous Forbes Rich List! This one is run by DuPont and the aim is to show the color trends around the world. Last year, for the first time ever, they added a new section which dealt with the popularity of car colors.
In America, the top 3 car colors have remained stable for many years, although surprisingly white comes out top of the list, swiftly followed by black and silver (contrary to what you might expect, red is not in the top 3 list in China or Japan, but the same 3 colors are top there as well!)
What is one of the first things people say when they see the car you are driving? Usually it will be a comment about the color, even before the model or its age! But it is very difficult to choose the exact color you want because there are literally thousands of shades out there – which one do you need? If you wanted to find out what color your car was when it originally left the factory, but couldn’t find the serial number or any other relevant information which would lead you to find this out, you may find out by accident when you sand it down to prepare it for painting. People frequently simply paint over the old color with a new one. When you see all those swatches of color you can be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed at first because there are just too many. But take a deep breath and remember that there are only six basic car colors out there (I’m not saying they are the only colors!) – the rest of them are either different shades of those or a blend of them. When you realize this, you will understand that it will be possible to recreate the exact color you want, even if it no longer exists.
Car dealers often have the codes for the colors on their computer and they can search their database until you get what you need. In case you’re wondering, those basic colors are red, silver, blue, black, beige and, last but not least, grey. Of course, back in the 1950’s a car was a real status symbol so if your car is from that era, for example, then you need to ensure it is of a color that was popular then.
During this period, the color of your car was of paramount importance. It wasn’t just black cars that were available – a whole rainbow of choices were available. When deciding what color your collector car should be, it may be important to bear in mind where you live in the world – especially if you want to drive your car. You might think that’s a strange thing for me to say, but if you live in, say, Florida, you will struggle because your car will be very hot in the summer if it is black (or any other dark shade). As dark colors attract the heat, you need to choose more pastel ones which were very much in vogue in the 1950’s. If you live in a cold climate you would find a dark car ideal! Also consider how much effort you are willing to put in to keep it clean – black is notoriously hard work!
Is there a compromise so that you can have the best of both worlds? Actually, yes! Think about a two tone car which will do two jobs in one. For example, if you wanted to keep cool but loved black or blue cars, why not choose a car which has a light color on top (so you are not burning up while driving) and the body painted a darker color. Many cars like this look sleek and elegant, although there is a tendency to have a darker roof and a lighter body. You also need to consider where the car is going to be stored. Obviously, you are likely to want to show the car publicly, but will it be out in the sunlight most of the time? If so, then try to get a car which is light grey or even cream because not only do they look sleek and stylish, it is more difficult to see when the paint begins to fade. There are many advantages to this type of car, especially when you consider that they are easier to see at night (which might prevent an accident if you are driving it home from a show) and, interestingly, they show less dirt than the darker colored cars.
Perhaps one of the main reasons for offering colors other than black was to encourage women to drive – a point that is often overlooked. Women notoriously find it difficult to make up their mind about a purchase – just go shopping with your wife once and you’ll see what I’m talking about! She will dither about the color of her garment or shoes, and even her car.
Even when she has decided on a model she likes, she will often trawl the showrooms until she finds just the right color for her! Back in the 1950’s, many dealers were happy to repaint a car to sell it (one newspaper at the time – Automotive News – suggested selling the car “with just the prime coat of paint and letting the dealer paint the car to suit the customer!” How’s that for customer service?
Certain years saw an explosion of car colors, especially 1955 which was the year in which 17 different colors were unleashed on an unsuspecting public. For a while, it became fashionable to wear clothes which matched with the cars being driven!
Way back in 1937, a survey was carried out which revealed that the latest trend was for light colors – this was a marked change from the darker hues of yesteryear. It was particularly noticeable that black, green and blue were less popular around this time.
Having mentioned before how important the look of both interior and exterior of the car is, usually the two are contrasting but in July 1931 Cadillac brought out a unique range of gorgeous colors which were identical colors both inside and out! Cars with red bodies had red seats!
This was an experiment which had never been tried before and had been prompted by Cadillac wondering what the public tastes really were. They wanted to know whether they were saturating the market with cars painted colors the public didn’t really want and tried to discover whether they would prefer brighter colors rather than the dark ones which were available at that time.
If your car dates from 1935, there is a strong possibility that it was Stratosphere Blue, and it was around this time that the metallic finishes became popular.
Even if your car is a very basic color, it may be difficult to match it to its original one. Take black for instance. That is just a simple matt color but it actually came in 3 shades! You could purchase a Raven, Jet Black or Blue Black car!
Do you have a specific purpose in mind for using your car? You need to decide whether you want it for business or pleasure use as color can play an important role when choosing the color of your collector car. Sports cars have always been brightly colored and should, ideally, be painted in cheerful colors which are appealing to the eye. One quick and easy technique which can generate a great effect is to add a strip of paint in a contrasting lighter or darker shade, depending on the color of the main body of your car. It was common, especially in the 1930’s, to find sports cars which were light blue or yellow. The more unusual colors which were in vogue then but have gone out of fashion (such as brown and green) may have had a strip of gold or red along the side. This simple technique has the effect of tricking the eye like an optical illusion, and making a normal sized one appear longer.
It is interesting that just like fashion; the popularity of certain colors of car can change from place to place. For example, in the early 1940’s it was discovered that Maroon was the most commonly sold car in the West, despite the fact that NATIONALLY, it was black! Also, a survey showed that metallic colors were top sellers – black was the FIFTH most popular color there at that time!
So, in summary, there are many things to take into account when choosing the color of your collector car. You need to take into account whether you actually LIKE the color (there is nothing worse than driving a car which you don’t like because of how it looks, regardless of its value); the color the car was when it was first made – it will dramatically increase the value of your car if you are able to purchase one which is in its original color; where you live – you don’t want to drive a black car in Florida if you can help it or you’ll be boiled alive! Also, it is important to bear in mind the type of car you wish to purchase. Still, it has been found that color has become more important to people than the type of car they want to buy as the years have passed – many even refuse to buy a car from one dealer if they can’t provide the color they want!