Theme: Colour – She Wore Lemon

Mimosa yellow must be one of the most distinctive paint names after whatever the heck it is Ferrari calls its red.

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Over the last few weeks I went in search of yellow cars and, for the sake of completeness I’ve thrown the Tesla into the pile. None of these manage to be Mimosa yellow. That would have been very pleasing. From a safety point of view, a bright yellow car must be among the most visible against the widest range of backgrounds. Apart from that rather dull reason to prefer it, I find yellow a cheerful colour which to my eye, seems quite gender neutral whereasred can be insecurely macho and any of the pastel shades the opposite. Only orange and bright green have the same sense of upbeat warmth, perhaps.

Yet the colour is not all that common. People shy away from it and those who choose it are using it on smaller, cheaper cars. I would contend that a big, bright yellow car would be a statement of confidence while also disarming to some extent the aura of arrogance that a black Mercedes or Jaguar might posses. Now, imagine that: a bright yellow Jaguar XJ but only so long as the C-pillar was also painted the correct colour.

Yellow’s ambivalence comes from the fact it’s not only the hue of spring, egg yolks and joy but that the pigments needed to make it are poisonous: chrome, cadmium and lead. Yellow and black tend to be associated with danger (that contrast is what you notice on a car).

I’d have added a lovely yellow Smart to the selection only the chap inside the car resented the attention his paint job garnered from me. Which is it, sir? To be seen or to blend in?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

31 thoughts on “Theme: Colour – She Wore Lemon”

    1. Just Like Simon said below, a lot of those yellow car from the nineties didn’t age well and it kind of threw me off of the color

  1. Yellow is a tricky colour. Pale(ish) metallic yellows of the nineties have aged very badly – they can be seen on Mazda MX3, Mitsubishi Colt or Nissan 100NX. Maybe these are car4usa’s examples. A уellow that is a bit dull looks too much like it’s from the post. Rich metallic yellows are great. And pale, a bit greenish ones can look very fresh. Lemon yellow is good on a Cactus, but for this Tesla it looks a bit out of place.

  2. Yellow is best on cars with some black parts and more boxy design. And yellow mixed with chrome parts does not work.
    It looks good on a Hummer or a Pontiak Aztek, or of course on a C4 Cactus with those dark Airbumps.
    And yellow is the better colour for a Lamborghini than for a Ferrari.
    Especially the Isuzu Vehicross is crying for a yellow paint:

    1. I don’t disagree with any of that – the black plastic cladding era must be yellow’s zenith- but may I refer once again to the Mercedes Mimosa yellow on W-123s which had chrome embellishments and I am sure the 2002 and 316 had a colour I know as chrome yellow. Sans chrome, Nissan’s 200 SX had that colour as an option. Yellow is quite versatile.

    2. Yes, the reserved mimosa yellow is a good colour for those cars – i remember a friend driving such a yellow BMW 2002 touring, a car for young people. It was the time before metallic paint and molded plastic parts are conquering the world of car production.
      I remember the BX was offered one or two years in a nice yellow (Jaune Cedrat). A nice option to make your BX look distinctive, but not a particularly good colour for the BX.

    3. I think that BX looks great. It would even be a bit nicer in a higher spec level with black window frames and rubbing strips. So, black and yellow again. There was also a special version of the Audi A2 with black wheelarches and other trim. This was available in yellow and looked great as well.

      Coming back to the BX, it had some really good silid colours in the early years. I remember a green not unlike the one the DS was presented in. Unfortunately I can’t find a photo of it.

    4. [that was meant as a response to Sean’s post below re the colour of his Dyane. Note to the editor: I blame the new layout, which is all style over substance].

  3. This Dyane is supposed to be Mimosa Yellow – see how the owner has sensitively chosen a coordinating flatbead to haul it off. This is similar to the final view I had of my first Dyane, though that was Jaune Primavere, which I think translated inexactly on UK brochures to Primrose Yellow. Anyway, it looked like this, and it was a GS colour too.

    1. Thank you Laurent. My knowledge of English botanical terms is scant enough. It’s a long time since I thought of the colour and the spelling on the site I looked up was ‘Primavere’. I thought it was a bit of Gallic pretension, picking up on an Italian word, but I should have known that would never have been permitted by old-school Citroen.

      As for the site, you’re getting to sound like one of those misguided old fogeys who think that a Deese is a better car than a DS5. Move with the times.

    2. Ah, so maybe someone at Citroen was feeling a bit frisky, or back from an italian holiday, and not so good at spelling.
      Either way, the root is the same (and refers to the Spring season if I’m not mistaken).

      And I take it you mean ‘Déesse’ ?

  4. And I’m imagining that the spelling on the site I originally looked at was just wrong and that ‘Jaune Primevere’, with an accent, is correct.

  5. By the way, Richard, that is a Mark 1 Kangoo, not the blobbier, lardier Mark 2 that disappoints me more every time I drive it. That yellow was (of course) not offered in the UK, but I seem to remember that it was the colour of the one that Gordon Murray kept at his French gaff and he wrote exuberantly of in TWBCM years ago. Unless it was orange.

    1. Hi:
      Is it a Mk1? You’re right. I’ll have to change that. It really suits the Kangoo, that yellow.

      The BX above reminds me how good that design was. Flat colours suit the flattish panels. Architectural designs take the flat colours very well.

    2. Of course Laurent, with that stupid little side glass. Actually, I realise that, as I write, I have no idea at all what a Mark 4 Megane actually looks like. Is that a condemnation of van den Acker’s work, or of my disinterest?

    3. It’s more to do with Renault’s marketing decisions, and the fact that the UK is low priority. The Megane MkIV has only just gone on sale so you won’t have seen it on the streets of London just yet.

  6. The problem with the BX is that the bumpers were self-coloured, rather than sprayed body colour. Presumably this was dictated by the paint technology of the time and practicality – scuffs are far easier to deal with. But the deliberate mismatch of colours worked better with some colours than others. Red, Ivory, Blue and others worked, but the yellow doesn’t.

  7. Laurent: I really need to concentrate to distinguish the Megane from the Clio. The Clio is quite big now. I am supposed to know this stuff and that it’s hard to remember says more about Renault than me, I feel.

    1. Again I think it’s just a case of lack of familiarity. If you saw those cars more often you would remember them easily, and unlike some other manufacturers, the Renault range is coherent and not that extensive. But their last decade is best forgotten.

  8. I don’t have that much problems with Renault. Yes, the Clio is big, but so are Mégane and Talisman.
    Mercedes is at the moment the most inscrutable mess of models and niche models which all look the same. There was a time as a kid and also later in my twenties when I really knew what was going on in the car market, maybe with exception of American and domestic Japanese cars. This has somehow gone, partly because of the sheer multitude of cars nowadays, partly because most of them are so uninteresting for my taste.

    1. I lost track of the generalities around 2005. Since then the ranges expanded faster than the press or I could keep up. It seemed as before that one got to know a car, certainly the principal ones over the product life-cycle. Today it’s often you might not read more than the “first drive” which is often the last one. That’s a gap DTW tries to plug.

  9. Primrose yellow look fabulous on large luxury cars. I seem to recall Jaguar using it on the Series 2 XJ6 and XJ12.

  10. Saw three Corvettes during our US trip, all were canary yellow and were just, well too yellow. The last model has quite soft lines and reminded me of an egg yolk going rather quickly. The new model almost worked until viewed from the rear where the combination of yellow, matt black, very bright LEDs and four chromed exhausts was optic overload. In metallic navy this car would look great.

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