Why are our cars painted such boring colors?
Why are cars today painted such lame colors? If you look at the cars of the 1970s and ’80s, you find dazzlingly whimsical colors, bold hues that put a block’s worth of conservative modern rides to shame. Car colors today are often black, white, gray or silver. And even when they are a color — say, red or blue — those colors tend to be murky and muted rather than bold. What happened?
The answer has something to do with our tastes, and a lot more to do with paint technology. Cars of yesteryear (if we accept yesteryear to mean the 1960s through the early 1980s) were often painted in bright, popping colors — supersaturated pigments in hues that don’t appear on most modern vehicles. The appeal of these paint jobs has to do as much with the way the paint looks on the car as it does the color of the paint. Older paints sat flat on the surface of the car; there was no swirling iridescence to give an illusion of movement below the surface. The finish, though not quite matte, was a lot less glossy than the finish on modern cars.