Friday, 30 November 2007 17:00

What Happened to Simple [Car] Colors?

Written by Vince Johnson
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Before we went to the first grade, most of us knew all the colors in the rainbow. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. We had crayons and we colored the sky blue, oranges were orange and apples were the same color as little red wagons loaded with green watermelons. You couldn’t color the snowman because it was already white, but you could make a carrot colored nose, do little black dots for his eyes and a scarf in red, green or blue.


The first crayons were made by Crayola in 1902. They sold for a nickel a box having 8 colors, which were black, brown, blue, red, purple, orange, yellow, and green. Life was simple. Fire engines and cabooses were red. Steam engines were black. Cars were black or blue. Log cabins were brown.


With a choice of 8 colors, no time was wasted on pick’n and choose’n. You grabbed a crayon and started coloring.


Things are different today. Go to a new car dealer and ask what colors they have to offer. You won’t believe some of the names they give to colors these days. You want a blue car? Try these shades: Majestic Blue, Aurora Blue Mica, Blue Chip, Cool Blue, Sapphire Blue Pearl, Blue Ribbon Blue, Sky Blue Pearl, Blue Mirage Metallic, True Blue, Indigo Ink Blue and so on.

Oddly enough, black is often simply called “black.” But some just can’t settle for having plain old black, so they try exotic names like: Black Raven, Nighthawk Black, Obsidian Black Pearl, Black Onyx, Ebony Black, and on and on. Duh! The best selling Rolls Royce Phantom color, at $325,000 plus, is “Black.”


If I were asked to come up with a special name for black I’d suggest: “Night Sky Black.” Of course they’d yawn at this. Too ordinary and bland. Just like all of the other names they give to black car paint.


But I’d suggest it anyway just to set them up for a really great name. When they had all settled down I’d blurt out, “Dragon Belch Black.” While their jaws were still hanging down I’d ask them to find a genuine redneck who would not warm up to a new pickup with a “Dragon Belch Black” paint job.

I checked this one out with a guy who looked a lot like Willie Nelson. He wanted to buy two of them sight unseen! No doubt about it. Ask any redneck if a pickup painted in “Dragon Belch Black” would sell. You’ll see what I mean!

Has a car manufacturer ever thought of naming car paint to appeal to regional tastes? Example: Maybe in Oregon, a “Tree Hugger Green” hybrid would sell like crazy.


If you lived in Florida lots of guys would be proud to announce that their pickup was “Gator Tongue Red!” A great color for pickups sold in Las Vegas would be “Poker Chip Blue.”


Some names are just plain crazy. Like “Desert Mist Metallic.” I hesitate to mention that this is a Honda color. They make great cars, but how in the world can “mist” be “metallic”? And any mist we might see in the desert would be long gone after five minutes in the sun. One of the names I discovered [this winter] was interesting: “Winter Gold!”


Egads! If you lived in snow country, would you tell anybody the color of your car is “Winter Gold”? It is a color for Jaguar 2008 XK Convertible listed in the $74,835–$92,035 price range. I feel better about this now. They won’t be selling many convertibles up in Alaska, especially those having a color known as “Winter Gold.”

Vince Johnson is a freelance writer and philosopher. He can be reached at vjadtrak@wvi.com.


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