In the early 1900s, Henry Ford once said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.” By offering just one color, Ford managed to streamline the production process, improve quality and lower prices. As a result, the Ford Model T is often regarded as the first mass-produced car that the working class could afford.
Conservative Color Choices Take the Lead
While black was the popular color of most Model Ts for obvious reasons, AOL points out that car color trends gradually change over time. We may not notice dramatic changes from year to year, but the differences between decades can be significant. By the 1950s, for example, car colors had evolved to vibrant shades of red, blue and yellow.
Today’s most popular car colors are a bit more conservative. According to the 2012 DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report, white cars accounted for 24 percent of the North American market in 2012. Black cars came in second, at 19 percent of the market, and silver was the third-most popular color, at 16 percent of the market.
However, that doesn’t mean that automakers are afraid to take risks with dramatic paint schemes. The new Ford Escape is available in a distinctive shade of light blue called Frosted Glass, while the Nissan 370Z comes in unique colors like Black Cherry and Midnight Blue. If you’re considering a Volkswagen Beetle, you can choose colors like Yellow Rush and Toffee Brown Metallic.
What's the Most Popular Car Color?
No matter how much or how little you know about cars, when it’s time to pick one out, there’s one thing you have to think about—which color you’d prefer. To find out which car colors are the most popular in North America, we consulted the 2012 DuPont Automotive Color Popularity Report. Here are the results:
“Other” (less than 1%)
Drive a pink car? How about purple? Then you’re in a very unique club — the “other” color group. The “other” category represents fewer than 1 percent of the cars in the world—meaning the nine colors to follow make up the other 99 percent.
(tie) Green (2%)
In auto racing, some drivers have shied away from green cars since an Indianapolis 500 winner died in a horrible crash in 1920 while driving — you guessed it — a green car. But apparently, the green superstition isn’t an issue for many North American drivers, as green is tied for the No. 8 most popular color, with 2 percent of the market share.
(tie) Yellow/Gold (2%)
Also coming in with 2 percent of the North American market share are cars painted a cheery yellow or gold. But if you watch enough TV or movies, it appears 99% of all taxis are yellow.
Not as flashy as green, yellow or gold, cars in the neutral tones of brown and beige corner 5 percent of the North American market.
Whether a vehicle is the palest robin’s egg hue or the darkest midnight shade, blue cars represent 7 percent of the North American market.
If you think a red car is the height of sporty fashion, it seems that about 10 percent of the North American market agrees.
Understated and elegant, gray is the No. 4 most popular car color in the U.S. market, according to the report. This neutral shade climbed two percentage points this year, DuPont says, with increases in trucks, luxury and intermediate vehicles.
This metallic alternative to gray enjoyed much success in the early 2000s, but for the first time since 1998, this year it didn’t lead in any of the vehicle segments. Still, only two colors surpassed its popularity.
In North America, it looks like about 19 percent of the market prefers the sleek style of a black car. Of that number, 8 percent were solid black cars, while 11 percent were “black effect” vehicles. Only one color was more popular — and that color is…
White! The clear, crisp color outranks all the others in popularity in North America, at 24 percent, and the world, with 23 percent of the global market. Of those popular white cars, in North America, 17 percent were solid white, while the other 7 percent were a pearl version.
Most Popular Car Colors
So, there you have it! White, black and silver are the most popular car colors in North America, comprising 59 percent of all the vehicles in the market. Will this list affect your next car color choice? Share your thoughts below.
Perception Drives Color Choices
White, which was also popular in the 1980s, has made a resurgence for a few reasons. FOX News points out that Apple may have contributed to the shift, noting that the company’s all-white stores and polished products are considered modern and high-tech. And unlike the Model T’s monochromatic paint scheme, a variety of white color tones are available today, ranging from flat or bright white to a metallic pearl. White also has a built-in advantage over other colors since it’s popular with business owners who buy work trucks and paint logos on them.
Forbes indicates that silver was the top color from 2001 through 2006, but that white has consistently been one of the top color choices since 1998. In addition, Forbes writes that black and white are both colors that represent luxury, class and quality, which is why they’ve remained popular.
While certain colors evoke a premium feel, other factors may have steered us toward white, silver, black and gray. FOX News writes that these conservative colors became more popular when the economy took a turn for the worse. Since shoppers planned to hold onto their cars longer, they were less likely to take risks than they would be with with loud, flamboyant colors.
The colors we choose may also depend on where we live. According to car coating manufacturer PPG, there are more red cars in North America than most other areas of the world, while black and gray vehicles are more popular than silver ones in Europe. In Asia, silver and white tie for the top spot, and about 7 percent of the cars in each of these regions are blue.
Color Affects Car Values
The color of your next car is ultimately a personal choice, but choosing something other than pea-soup green may pay dividends when it’s time to sell or trade your vehicle. Kelley Blue Book writes that choosing a popular color now will likely help your car maintain its value to a potential shopper five years down the road. Sticking to silver, white, black and gray are the safest bets, while loud colors, such as yellow, orange and purple, may negatively affect your car’s value when it’s time to sell. Color choice overrides brand loyalty too, as Kelley Blue Book indicates that 39 percent of buyers will likely shop another brand if they can’t get their preferred color.
While there are infinitely more color choices today than when Henry Ford introduced the Model T, for the moment, most car shoppers are playing it safe with cars that are white, silver, black or gray. If you were heading out to buy a new car, what colors would catch your eye on the showroom floor?