Small Means Yellow

This is a celebration of yellow. 


Once upon a time colour and a car’s size had little relationship. These days yellow is the colour of small and cute. I gathered these over the closing months and have assembled them to celebrate yellow.


The Polo has a hint of orange to it.


The Smart roadster showcases chrome yellow, a colour the BMW 2002 wore well.


The Ka cheats with gold or metallic yellow, with a green cast.


We are back to whitish yellow or primrose on the New Beetle.


The Fabia shows warm yellow and winter wheels.


Hyundai – good on colour – chose this beige yellow for this i20.


This is a Suzuki Ignis three-door sport. That’s worth an article.


The Nissan Juke, a DTW favourite/hate object also uses warm yellow. This is the best colour for this brave little car.


I thought this was a Daihatsu Cuore. But no: the rub-strips shout Micra if you’re not asleep. You don’t see them in this colour very often.


The Mini is chrome yellow and it suits it. Mini now offer a fabulous flat orange which looks as good. Anyone ordering this car in metallic grey should consider a Polo instead.


Finally, an Agila in chrome yellow or a darker primrose. There’s a great tension between the utility  vibe of the shapes and the jolliness of the paint. Dacia (utility) have not shown any awareness of this, have they?

Author: richard herriott

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

28 thoughts on “Small Means Yellow”

  1. Whenever I think of yellow in the context of car colours my first thought is always of 1991’s Fiat Cinquecento Sporting.

    1. That car was yellow to the core. They also had a Ferrari red, did they not? Is it me or have Fiat stopped being able to make fun, sporty little cars the way they did then? The Cinquecento got a lot of publicity. Reviewers liked them. Kia and Hyundai might want to adapt the formula (without the aggressive addenda).

    1. Those drivers are very small, aren’t they?

      A few yellow Tesla T cars can be seen around here. By and large the larger the car the less likely it’s going to be yellow. Out of that batch I was most taken with Hyundai’s mustard or browny yellow. It’s very flattering and not too loud. They must allow their colour chief a lot of leeway.

  2. As displayed previously, I was the happy owner of a Broom Yellow ‘Cinq Sport’ and I still find it the very best of that hue – bright yet warm yet not gloopy as yellow can sometimes come across. The Coupé FIAT came in the same colour and the two could only have come from the same stable, even if their basic forms could scarcely have been more different. Of the cars shown, it was probably closest to the colour of that Polo, which I have not seen before.

    1. The Coupe Fiat: imagine such a car today from Fiat. They had a good range of engines, striking styling and good road manners. Why didn’t they make more of a long-term impact?

  3. Small yellow econobox = for women. I think all of these cars are directed towards women, as the second car in the household. The man drives something bigger, a lease paid by the company. A 3-series or Volvo or Insignia. These yellow cars are paid for privately, mostly by men, for their wives to drive around in. There, I said it…

    1. You should consider that the car market looks very different in Sweden compared to the rest of Europe. We drive larger cars and there are far more company lease cars here.
      On the subject of yellow, my only yellow cars has been a Fiat 127 and a Volvo 142.

  4. Why are colours for women only? I think people are really stupid today what this kind of things is concerned. Has anyone mentioned gay yet?

  5. Flash colours were the fashion in fifties America so when my dad brought home a yellow and black 53 mercury it suddenly became something to be seen in, or not depending on ones taste!
    I never thought of him as being progressive but looking back his next two cars were lime green with black roof and the last before returning to normal colours was a pale lavender and white 57 mercury.
    I never thought of this until I purchased a Smart roadster in yellow and black and realised my “colour moment” was at an age that was twice his when it happened.
    Would like to send photo if I knew how of my car posed in a field of oilseed rape.

  6. Porsche offered some terrific colours in the 1990s. Here’s a Dupont swatch sheet from the time:

    My favourites were the china blue or pistachio, sadly not shown on this book. But look how many yellows there are! One wonders how influential the earlier RUF CTR had become.

  7. In the UK yellow was long overused for corporate liveries. A yellow vehicle on the drive meant a visit from British Telecom, or that you worked for British Rail, the National Coal Board or Blue Circle Cement. It took a long time for that perception to shake out of the public consciousness.

  8. Renault has a lovely ‘liquid’ metallic yellow that was/ is available on certain RS models – a bit like that South American FIAT (Panda?) Rodrigo has posted. I resent the idea that yellow cars are for the laydeeze …

    1. It’s a Fiat Uno 2010 (aka Novo Uno). The yellow is only available if you pick the Sporting model.

    2. Rodrigo – I am less familiar than others on this site with South American specific models, so thanks for the intel. I did think it was not quite Panda like, with no 6th light in the C-pillar, but I do think it looks as a small FIAT should from the rear 3/4s. A pity we do not see it in the UK, I am becoming tired or just having 500s and its grossed up derivatives on our roads. I much prefer the Panda, and a 100HP or Sporting version would be immense fun.

  9. Not too long ago pale yellow tints were used by both Škoda as well as Volvo for their sportier alternatives.

    It was one of the options for the first generation Octavia RS

    And it was the only option available for the first Volvo 850 T5-R

    It’s been a long time since I last saw any of them in the flesh (metal ?). Wonder what an already pale paintwork looks like after years of weather and road life. Does it look really pale? Or would it look brand new with just a dab of wax?

    1. Hello Magnus and welcome to DTW: I saw one of those 850R cars in the Volvo museum in Gothenburg. They were from what is now a long time ago now (I have to tell myself by doing a calculation: the year now minus the year then). How could something from a quarter of century ago look so fresh? Or does it look hopelessly antiquated to a person born in 1997?

      It seems yellow has two applications: small cars and sporty cars.

      It occurred to me that the period of very colourful cars might just have been an aberration, although a long one. I´d guess in advance that car colours from 1900 t0 about 1950 were quite sober. If cars have been dark or conservatively coloured from 1900 to 1950 and from about 1985 (increasingly) to now that´s the majority of the time. This just ties in with my idea that the 1955 to 1975 period suited wild design, big colours and inventiveness.

      Another inquiry would be to chart colour ranges in relation to economic growth or employment or wage growth and see what the graphs look like. Does anyone want to do a PhD on this?

  10. Thank you Richard.
    I agree, the Volvo has in my eyes quite a timeless look. (I might be subjective in the matter though, growing up in the western parts of Sweden)

    I would love to write that phd thesis. The question is what car manufacturer we could lure in to pay for my sustenance meanwhile.

  11. I would probably pick one of the american seven seaters. E.g. Ford Windstar or Chevrolet Trans Sport. Comfortable and spacious enough to load whatever you throw at them, just remove the sofas and armchairs in the back.

    Would a teen look cool in it? No of course not, but your friends would love to go for road trips in it.

    Growing old you would appreciate stepping comfortably into the the car, instead of down into.

    Add to this an American v6 and an inefficient automatic gearbox for a smooth ride and you have yourself a winner!

  12. Not to mention the 900 cabriolet in yellow. I’ve always considered the choice of color quite un-saabish and out of line with the other colors they offered. But on the other hand, the unexpected choice of color distinguished it from the rest of the 900’s

  13. I definitely think yellow is more popular in smaller cars. Though there are yellow muscle cars like Dodge Chargers and Ford Mustangs.I wouldn’t call them small cars by any means.

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