All Cars Are Grey In The Dark
Colour. What a minefield that is! From your playground days, you might remember angry debates as to whether you had a right to nominate Green as your ‘favourite colour’. And, unlike many other childish foibles, the irrational and excessive reaction to colour doesn’t go away.
As you can see from the above collage provided to me by Sean Patrick, some people agonise over colour. Some years ago, the poor boy went to great lengths to decide which colour to respray his car though he tells me that he is still not sure he made the right choice. Personally speaking, I favour grey, which is not strictly a colour, or, if I must nominate actual colours, those shades used by the military. I am more liberal concerning the choices of others. Unfortunately, the motor industry is not.
There are all sorts of theories, some scientific, some not so, as to what colours are good for what situations but, in the end, colour is a very personal choice. Although you can wake up one morning and decide that you want to choose something very bright, or very sober, from your wardrobe, for the present at least, once you buy a car in a certain colour, you are stuck with it unless you respray. As such, no dealer, no fleet manager and few private buyers want to be stuck with a car they can’t sell, so they tend to specify the safest choices.
Perhaps we should first fix some vocabulary because, although most people have strong views on colour, they often lack the correct words to describe it.
Colours are the visible spectrum, those wavelengths of light that are visible to humans – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. To describe a colour we can use three terms. First is Hue, which is the basic description such as ‘green’ or ‘red’. Second is Saturation, which refers to how intense the colour is. Third is Value which refers to how dark or light the colour is. Going further a Shade refers to a colour being made darker by the addition of black and a Tint refers to a Colour being made lighter by the addition of white.
The maxim hinted at above, ‘all cats are grey in the dark’ is perfectly true. An object doesn’t possess colour, what we see is the way it reflects light. Pigments within the object absorb certain frequencies of light and what we see is what is left over.
Of course, however much science you throw at it, people have all sorts of subjective names to describe colours, even though one person’s ‘duck egg blue’ is not another’s. Since once discovering ‘Speculum’ lurking among hundreds of other colours on a colour chart, I have often wondered at the desperation of those who are tasked with naming colours..
And going from the pure science to technology, we must consider how these colours are actually realised within current constraints. Until we can change car body colour electrochemically to our desire, we are stuck in the messy world of paint and, so, a mistake made in choosing a colour is one that you have to live with.
We apologise for the delay in launching this month’s theme. As you will see, we have given the site a small facelift, which we hope makes it a bit easier on the eye. Naturally, in line with the traditions of the British Motor Industry, having launched our new model we shall continue to develop it over the following weeks. Stand by for warranty claims.