Colors change with the seasons, but an automobile is never fully dressed without a
coat of paint. While Henry Ford would let customers have only black to speed the
drying process, today's automakers offer a palette that would make da Vinci
envious, with names like Velocity Yellow, Cashmere Metal, Ruby Red Pearl, Fathom Blue, Orange Fire Pearl.
"Overall, the most popular colors are more
natural," said La Shirl Turner, design chief of advanced colors and materials for Chrysler
Group. "Typically, it's white, silver and black.
At the Paris auto show, neutral brown and
earth tones were big. We also have our impact
colors — reds and blues."
Paint types varied recently. Metallics have
been the rage for a while, but matte finishes are showing up on Smarts and German sports cars. Nonmetallic paints with their dense color are making a comeback.
Think of the grayish-blue Anvil color popular on Jeeps, light blue and pale orange
on Dodge Dart, and red on Chevy trucks. Conversely, adding metallic to
traditionally straight colors like white on the Subaru BRZ creates interest.
Regardless of era, some colors are staples. Chevrolet always has some version of medium blue for Corvette and Camaro (the most popular Corvette color is red). Ford King Ranch pickups exploit prairie-inspired themes. Dodge Challenger has hues like Plum Crazy, Header Orange and TorRed. Subaru is famous for Blue Pearl.
Brand, lifestyle and vehicle type affect available colors. Turner says it's important not to have every color on every vehicle. Jeeps and Fiats offer more expressive shades because of their use and customers, while
luxury cars stick to darker, more traditional colors. It may seem silly to have bright orange on a
luxury sedan, but looking at the circus hues
Chinese buyers like for their Rolls-Royces,
Wheels are showing colors too.
"We did slate wheels on the Chrysler 300 Varvatos," Turner said. "It's a space we're really working towards for the future. For customers, it's not just about body color. They
pay attention to accessories like they do interiors."