Choosing the Best Colour

an important decision that shouldn't be rushed

Choosing the Best Colour

It should be easy - pick your car, then select your favourite colour. Oh, if only it were that simple! Picking the bright Ford Focus may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but may have dire consequences when you come to sell your vehicle as not everyone will share your enthusiasm. Mind you - if it were a Seat Leon it might be a different story altogether.

Choosing the Colour:


Some cars just look good in certain colours, and others are traditionally associated with a particular colour - yellow, for example, is a favourite for sporting Seats. Before racing cars were plastered with sponsors, teams would paint their cars in the traditional colours: Britain in racing green, Germany in silver, pale blue for France, white for Japan and red for Italy (of course).

In fact, if you ask anyone what colour a Ferrari should be, the answer is likely to be red. Some cars only come in limited colours - Honda's Integra Type-R was only available in white when it was first officially imported.

What Finish Should You Go For?

- Solid

Solid colours are those that are created by ordinary paint resulting in just a flat colour.

Metallic paintMetallic

These paints contain tiny flecks that reflect the light, giving the finish that extra edge.


Pearlescent paints take metallics a stage further: the flecks reflect the light in different ways depending on the angle it strikes them.

Metallic and pearlescent colours are more resistant to scratching and chipping as they usually have a hard lacquered finish. However, the complexity of these colours means that it is harder to match colours evenly when touching up, so when mishaps do occur, they're harder and therefore more expensive to put right. In addition, since they just look better, metallic and pearleascent finishes generally command a higher price. That said, it's often worth paying the difference for a good-looking car that will be easier to sell in the long run.

All that Glimmers is Not's Silver!

Speaking of metallics being a popular choice, silver cars were once so popular that it was predicted their second-hand values will drop as supply exceeds demand. Buyers will be prepared to pay more for cars that are...well, not silver. Although once a popular choice, white cars are not particularly desirable either at the moment - even the police force is buying cars that are not white to increase their saleability when the time comes.

Is Brown the New Black?

With brown hailed as the new black in fashion circles a few seasons ago, the colour has also caught on in the motoring world. Lamborghini decided to offer one of their special edition Diablo's in both gold and brown. The Mini Clubman launched at the end of last year is also available in "Hot Chocolate". Surprisingly, they actually look pretty good. Whether it is a trend that will catch on is yet to be seen.

Used Cars - Compromise

For those of us that can't stretch to new cars or just want an old car, choice is limited but if you're prepared to pick an unpopular colour, then you can save some money. Watch out, also for interior colours - sometimes the colours of plastics and upholstery change dependent on the external colour you choose. If you carry small children in your car you might want to avoid pale cream carpets and seats.

Keeping the Colour

Look at it

Colours will inevitably fade over time. If a badly faded car has a door or body panel resprayed it will stand out, even though it is technically the same colour. Road chemicals, dirt, sunlight, impacted insects, and especially bird droppings will all accelerate the fading process. To keep your car looking good and to retain its value, you'll have to do some work.

The first step is very simple - keep your car clean. Regular washing with a proper car detergent (not household detergents which strip the protective polishes from paintwork) is a must. Many people avoid automatic car wash machines as the brushes can put tiny scratches in the paint surface. This may be barely visible at first but over time will degrade the car's appearance.

Secondly, you should polish the paintwork regularly. This not only adds that extra sparkle to your pride and joy, but it will also protect the paintwork against deterioration and eventual rusting due to protective waxy chemicals that are left on the surface after polishing.

What Fades Fastest?

Though paint manufacturers are improving their technology all the time to address these problems, some inequality in paint performance remains. For example, light metallic colours tend to fade more than the strong ones, while dark solid colours, like blacks and blues, tend to have a softer finish than other colours and so are more prone to scratching and damage, making them are harder to keep looking as good as new.


Choosing the right colour really isn't an easy job: buy new and there's too much choice; go for a used car and you have to go with what's available. The main points to remember when making your choice is that strong metallic colours are always more popular and easier to keep looking good. If possible go for a colour that you like and suits the car.

Of course, we shouldn't get carried away - colour is not the single most important factor when buying a car. If in doubt, pick a popular colour - it'll be easy to find and buy the car in first place, and you can guarantee that your buyers will be thinking that way when you come to sell.

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