A car's paint offers colorful insights

AUTO INDUSTRY

April 16, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

Buying a car was a lot easier back in the days of the Model T Ford, especially when it came to picking the color. You could get black, or you could get black.

But in the era of antilock brakes and turbo-charged fuel injection, life is not nearly so simple.

Car manufacturers are being offered more than 150 different colors to pretty up their latest offerings, including pink and purple.

There are even new paints that people in the industry call bi-color hues, where the color changes depending on the angle from which the car is viewed. A red car can turn to blue when viewed from a different angle. Gold can switch to green.

With such an array to choose from, what color do you think most American new-car and light-truck buyers wanted last year?

A hint, it wasn't black.

White was the most popular color last year, according to the latest survey of vehicle color by Du Pont Automotive, a leading supplier of paint to auto manufacturers around the world. But green is coming on fast.

Nearly 20 percent of all vehicles purchased last year were white -- down from more than 24 percent in 1992, according to the survey.

White was the most popular color in three of the four auto categories: luxury, full/intermediate, and truck/van. Green was the No. 1 choice of purchasers of sport and compact cars.

Green, on the other hand, doubled in popularity last year. It showed up on more than 15 percent of all vehicles.

Medium red was the No. 3 choice. Its less than 1 percentage point drop was just enough to knock it out of second place.

Rounding out the top five colors were bright red, claiming 8.8 zTC percent of the total market, and black, with 7.2 percent.

Color selection is more than a random choice -- it bespeaks an attitude, says Roseann Forde, fashion director of women apparels for Du Pont Fibers.

She says color choice is even more than preference -- it speaks about a person's personality. "You can virtually read people's personalities by the color they wear -- and drive," Ms. Forde says.

In addition to being the color of the environment, green represents balance, normality and security," she says. "People who select greenare socially well adjusted, civilized and suburban.

"White, on the other hand, is innocence, purity, honesty and cleanliness," Ms. Forde says.

Ms. Forde offers the following "colorful" insights:

Black is the color of mystery. It attracts attention, subtly.

Red is the color of extroverts -- the sexiest, most impulsive, athletic, active, quick-to-speak-their mind individuals. They're given to emotional ups and downs. They're courageous excitement-seekers determined to live life to the fullest.

Blue-green are the hues of the sophisticated and discriminating. Good taste, well-dressed. Refined. Charming. And, not surprisingly, egocentric.

Purple, a new entrant this year across all four vehicle categories, indicates a deep, shadowy personality. Unusually sensitive people with a passion for purple shun vulgarity. Blessed with above average taste, they focus on the elegant aspects of life -- the arts, ballet, symphonies. They may be temperamental, but they are easy to live with.

Gold, Ms. Forde says, is expensive and luxurious. It attracts people who enjoy their affluence and being flashy.

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