Ah, the smell and excitement of a new car, there’s nothing like it. Or so my childhood recollections tell me, since it has been more than a little while since I have driven a new vehicle. The feint lingering of car paint odour mixed in with a hint of faux leather topped off by a smidge of detailing fluid. Just enough to lull you into a false sense of luxury, unless of course you have purchased a luxury car in which case please let me know if the smell lingers for just that little bit longer.
I remember growing up that new car adoption in our family was a momentous occassion. We would stand on the street admiring the new acquisition from every angle, exclaim over its beauty, sit in it acclimatizing to the new sensation and then finally take it for a spin. We would puff with pride at the showroom shine and the immaculate tyre black knowing they wouldn’t last beyond the first month. The paper foot print mats that came in the vehicle would also remain for some months until my parents would finally concede that paper was no match for dirt stuck to our shoes and that really they didn’t need a sign post of where to put their feet.
My mother was a fairly groovy car chick. She would always pick the best colours in vehicles. All the women in my family knew without any verbal form of communication that the only two important things about a new car behind the smell was how well the radio sounded and the colour of the paint. And so she never failed to deliver. Her first car was a metallic green, sporty number with black trim. A stick shifter and with an AM band only radio perpetually stuck playing classical music or Perry Como. Yeah baby!
Her next car was a bright orange number, one again with a stick shift and black trim. It looked like an orange on wheels on a sunburned day and only had two doors. You know who was always was the one who had to climb in the back, but by that time FM radio had made an appearance and when I could wrestle Perry Como off his perch, I had the wonderful strains of Abba to listen to. We had this auto until the doors failed to open from the inside and dad had to finally administer last rights.
The point was though that you could see this baby coming from miles away because of its colour. My mother passed on her wonderful taste in car colour to moi, when I purchased a bright yellow hatch notwithstanding that the sales guy was a condescending misogynist who asked me why I was enquiring about the tachometer and was hell bent in showing me the make up mirror behind the driver’s sun shade. I mean really, didn’t he know the radio was far more important?
Roll the film forward and we now have more cars on the road than ever before. It seems however that our innovation in car colours stopped somewhere around 1985. As I survey our roads all I can see is a never ending sea of white, silver, black, charcoal and beige. The homogeneity is occasionally broken up by the odd splash of navy blue, burgundy or red, but generally not a green, yellow or orange vehicle in sight. And nary a psychedelic purple on the horizon.
Have car consumers become more conservative and pragmatic as time has worn on? Has safety and the cost of a paint job overtaken the desire to make a personal statement?
Now, dear readers a small mea culpa. My current vehicle is not colourful. But in my defence, I have had it for more than a decade and when I bought it there were not many other cars on the road of that colour. So it was seriously rad or bad or whatever back in the day, but now it is one of the crowd.
Oh, how the wheels of progress have turned to mute us all down. Bring back the colour on our roads.
New car ma’am? Certainly, would you like that in white, off white, cream or oatmeal?
Have you noticed a blending of the car colours where you live? What car colour would you choose if money was no object?