Choosing A Car Color: Emotions Run High—Because Color Matters!

Car Color
It seems hard to believe, but some drivers would NOT choose a cherry red car.

Our car color choices are personal, deeply felt and sometimes problematic.

When you shop for shoes, you often are searching for a specific color – black pumps for that little black dress, white sandals for a summery look. But with cars, color often comes last – you fall for a particular car, think about your options – and if you want the car right away, you are limited to what is on the lot. And for a big ticket items that you might own for years, sit in for hours daily, and look at constantly, car color means a lot.

Car Color

Love the car, but the color, not so much: Rhonda Belluso hesitated to pose with her silver Ford C-Max

Despite car color analysts who follow trends and come up with hot new colors, most buyers are set in their basic preferences. A Ford color study showed that the most popular colors in America are white, black, silver and gray, but their are regional preferences; gray and silver were most popular in New York and Los Angeles; black surprisingly was not the top New Yorker pick, but tops in Boston, while those in San Francisco most often choose white.

Dream color – or nightmare?

Car Color

The electric blue Nissan Pathfinder that still haunts Shari Von Holten

Shari Von Holten is loyal to Nissan Pathfinders. But she is still haunted by the 2003 electric blue Nissan Pathfinder she wound up with when her husband came home with the ‘glow in the dark’ car. “I can’t tell you how much I hated the color. Any time I would leave my house, people would tell me they saw me driving to the grocery store, at the drug store, etc. The car literally stuck out like a sore thumb and made me feel as though I was being watched whenever I left the house.”

She is much happier with her current white and silver cars. But even that can have a not so silver lining. “The silver car is a Honda Accord. While I love the car, I can never find it in the parking lot – since every other car is a four door silver car!”

Color choice: it’s not just for women

My husband is still traumatized by the urine-colored Gran Torino he inherited from his grandfather, the car he drove when we met in college. It says something about me that my previous boyfriend drove a red convertible Camaro, the car that still calls to me (the ex-boyfriend, not so much). He was also embarrassed by the “hideous” blue car his mother drove and the gold Gremlin he learned to drive in. So for his first car purchase, he chose white.

Settling for one color, longing for another

Car Color

Rhonda Belluso looks much happier in her red car

Rhonda Belluso, a Ford spokesperson, drives a 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid in Ingot Silver Metallic, chosen “because it was the color they had available on the dealership lot. I knew we wanted the C-Max Hybrid Hatchback. In 2013, it was fairly new to Ford, and so there weren’t many on the lot at the time.” Rhonda, who was pregnant, needed a car to fit a car seat, and now Caleb rides happily in the silver car.

But Rhonda still loves and misses her 2007 C230 Sport in Mars Red. She says she is “torn between rich colored reds, and what I see as the classic beauty of navy blue.”

Red speaks to her, too

Car Color

Nicole Wakelin’s titanium Dodge Charger

Nicole Wakelin, Director of Automotive Content for AGirlsGuidetoCars, said, “The first car I ever bought was red because red cars are just cooler. I also firmly believe that they go faster and refuse to accept any argument that says otherwise. There’s a reason so many Ferraris are bright red. These days I drive a Dodge Charger that is Titanium. It’s sort of a metallic gunmetal that totally suits the car and I love it to bits, but my heart still beats a little faster for red cars.”

Classic and elegant: Navy and Cream

Bmw 335I In Navy Blue

Scotty Reiss’s BMW 335i in her chosen color: navy blue

Scotty Reiss had four things on her wish list for a new car: Manual transmission, German engineering, a navy blue exterior and a cream interior. But to get items 1-3, she had to go with a beige interior when she bought her BMW 335i. But it works. Even with two kids, a dog, snowy winters and muddy springs, the light interior and navy exterior makes her happy. “The light colored interior gives the cabin a bright, fresh feeling, even when it’s overcast or snowing, and that lifts my mood every time I get into my car.”

 Always choosing a new color

Car Color

Could this be the color of Kim Carpenter’s next car?

Kim Carpenter, East Coast Group Manager for GM Communications, said, “Although I know we should focus on finances and fuel economy first, my family usually starts discussing color when it is time to go car shopping. Our rule is that we have to get a color different than our current car. Right now, we have a bright blue Chevy Cruze. I see a green or orange car in our future, but we have another six months on our lease before we need to start the debate.”

Climate considerations

Car Color

Jamie Bartosch’s grey Subaru

Suburban TravelingMom Jamie Bartosch said, “Somewhere on the spectrum between black and tan falls the color of every car we’ve bought in the last 15 years. They’re always silver or grey. It’s kinda by default, really, because we don’t like red, white or some of the creative new colors like pumpkin orange or olive green. We like the sleek way black cars look, but everyone warned us that black cars show too much dirt. So we went with dark grey, the closest thing to black, for our new 2015 Subaru Forester. But as you can see in the photo, all cars show dirt when you’re driving in Chicago snow!”

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell