When you’re out on the road, the only car colours you tend to see are muted colours: grey, white, matte black or, at a push, beige. Boring, isn’t it? Well, believe it or not, there is a whole history of far more exciting car colours. Each decade had its trends, bringing countless out-there colours, from exotic lime greens to every shade of red you could think of (including our favourite, vermillion red).
So, without further ado, we’re going to take you on a journey through the car colours of history. Let’s go!
Let’s start with the 1900s
In the 1900s, vehicles came in the form of simple carriages which could only be painted using oil-based coating. The technology was understandably quite simple and unrefined, which meant that car owners didn’t have much choice as to what colour they could have. Legend has it that automotive pioneer Henry Ford said: “you can have any colour, as long as it’s black”.
Vehicles around this time had been painted in brighter shades originally, but manufacturers had to revert to black and darker shades because brighter colours needed regular repaint jobs. To combat this, Ford developed asphalt-based enamels for Ford vehicles, making the paint job more durable and long-lasting.
Now, onto the 1920s
Once World War II had come and gone, car manufacturing enjoyed a boom period. Manufacturers started using Chinese wood oil in its spraying process, which then made it possible to have an expanded colour palette. Owners enjoyed choosing from an array of colours, and manufacturers enjoyed providing bold colour schemes in their vehicles (often opting for up to three colours per car).
As the 1930s closed in, the industry gave birth to another innovation: metallic paints made out of fish scales. Technology was really starting to take off here…
The 1940s – the brighter, the better
As the 1940s came along, there came more colour options for consumers. People buying cars could choose from a colour wheel including variations of blues, greens, and reds. It became clear that darker colours were out, and brighter colours were in.
As post-WWII America enjoyed economic freedom, its automotive industry served up a veritable feast of hues, shades, and colours. For the first time in history, consumers could choose from exciting colours like vermillion red, admiral blue, and casino cream.
The 1960s – technicolour cars everywhere…
Changing the Western world irreversibly, the 1960s also had a profound impact on the colours that people chose for their cars. It was an age of experimentation, and this definitely extended to the automotive industry. Influenced by bold and psychedelic imagery, sales in red and orange cars doubled for Ford, indicating a widespread taste for experimentation in consumers at the time.
A whole host of colours from vivid lime greens to the deep luxury of purples and golds were now available and enjoyed everywhere, indicating social status and verifying Hipness. Groovy…
The 1970s and a back to basics
After the excesses of the 1960s, things began to get toned down. Not just in car colours, either: both the UK and America grew more conservative in its views. As well as this, the hip kids of the 60s would have, by the 1970s, settled down. When it came to car colours, maroons, mustards, and varying shades of brown became popular. White was fairly common, too.
Fast forward to modern-day
Having enjoyed a history of bold experimentation, playfulness, and choice, today’s industry tends to provide more conservative and uniform colours to consumers. The second most popular colour is black, which says a great deal. The brand and model of the vehicle is now far more important than the colour. If consumers want a slightly different colour, or a more unique shade, they will likely pay extra.
Junair Spraybooths can provide you with the perfect environment to spray your vehicle whichever shade you want. It’s up to you! Why not get groovy like they did in the 60s? Or, combine a few colours like back in the 20s?