Honey and Bleach

Hanging about on my camera/s are photos which never seem to make it into an article of any kind. Today, I will try to get some of them out into the public domain and free up some space on my memory cards.

1995-2002 Toyota Corolla

The images constitutes a preliminary non-verbal note to myself. After a while I lose a strong sense of what motivated the images, many of which are not especially striking or nicely composed (as you can see here). On a photo -by-photo basis I have to ask myself what on earth made me record this particular car. It seems to that the almost-common denominator with these is colour. It’s not a rag-bag after all.

The Toyota has a really out-of-the-basket colour, something like orangey-mustardy-yellow. Presumably it was a bit fresher in 1995. It may not have been all that odd back then: Ford launched the Mondeo in bright yellow (Citrine yellow) and an almost neon orange-red. I have no proof for this: those early cars got scrapped very quickly and the uptake was minimal.

Reportedly, the car was very sensitive to colour and indeed most of them are not seen in the original launch phase colours.

The Peugeot above caught my eye because it had flat green paint. Naturally the interior was dark grey cloth. Norwegians owned it, judging by the license plates. The photo shows dark green bordering on black. In less sharp light (blunter light?) the colour is a mid-to-dark non-metallic green.

Typically this car is in black, metallic light grey and very occasionally dark blue (which suits it). I would very much like to see how this car would be in bronze, orange or indeed that nice copper brown metallic that looked so good on its forebear, the 604.

That brings me to the Arteon seen in Dublin at Easter (2018). Since then I have seen several other VWs sporting the same shade and, futher, this Peugeot 308 estate:

2018 Peugeot 308

The car is really a bit more yellowy gold than the photo shows. This colour has altered my perception of the car very much. Something similar happened when I saw a c.2005 Audi 6 estate in burgundy metallic recently. Both cars take on a pleasant lushness and a humane warmth that the cold colours never have. That 0.2 mm of coating transforms the vehicles.

I don’t know if it is a literally and figuratively superficial effect or real though. Some say perceptions are reality.

It would seem to me that a car company might want to very seriously look into the effect of colour on brand perceptions. Right now manufacturers are letting leasing firms and cautious customers determine how others see the cars: how we think of Audi, say, is determined to some extent by the colours we generally see. They (the colours) are cold and monochrome and that is how I see Audi. Is that what Audi (and anyone else) wants?

We turn to the last item out of the ragbag, a distinctive car in a distinctive colour.  It’s a 2008-2016 Renault Megane coupe (or three-door). Like its peer, the Astra, it’s not at all common. This one is calling out for brightwork, in my view. Dark blue, burgundy, and dark metallic green all go well with brightwork.

If this car was in a bright, flat yellow, white or plain red it could do without. Since there are so few of these cars around, the colour palette must be as idiosyncratic as the buyers. My general perception is that in recent years Renault customers have been more accepting of more interesting colours. I suppose if you want to buy a Renault you are already being a little more willing to accept expressive design.

A competitor for the Megane, seen in Dublin.

To conclude: don’t let your customers dictate your brand is perceived. The aggregate colour palette of cars purchased creates a general impression in the public’s mind. If that palette is cold and dull, so then is your brand.

Author: richard herriott

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

6 thoughts on “Honey and Bleach”

  1. That Corolla’s an ugly throwback to 1970s BLMC Allegros and the like. I never got why anyone would want a car looking like a blob of mustard. But even today people will opt for a dollop of brown excrement for some reason.

    The basic rule is that the lighter the car, the bigger it looks. I’ve found this useful: I had a Dedra Integrale in a white with such an absence of any colour that every other “white” car looked tainted/tinted. The car was so rare I needed to avoid any careless prangs by others.

    I don’t think that’s Audi’s motive, where its white A5s and 6s are just bullies’ cars. MB’s darker grey very metallic — older cyclists will remember this as “flam” (boyant).

    Makers having their models defined by buyers’ colour choices is surely an issue. I imagine showrooms are stocked with colours the maker wants to project for its models, and a lot won’t wait to get a colour they want.

    We still seem to be in a silver-grey era, which I think boring — and has the disadvantage of making it hard to spot your car in the parking.
    I’m constantly disappointed that more than half of all Lybras are silvery. There were some attractive light blues and turquoises (my fave), and more saturated greens, reds and blues (as Thesis had too), plus the traditional Lancia dark blue non-metallic – a declining asset as it doesn’t suit modern Lancias.

    Now we’re well into the bi-colour era: almost everyone has them, but Ypsilon, DSs etc. are often better matched than others. Delta 3 was in the vanguard, but the car itself wasn’t so hot. Now it’s just an attempt at snobbery –“Look, I paid extra for this”. It would be more honest if they had a sticker on the back saying “I haven’t really paid for this, and with my finance deal I may never own it”.

  2. In the 1990’s I had an Alfa 155 in white – very rare, and I soon found out why when several people told me it looked like a fridge. Selling it wasn’t easy. Alfa’s should be red.

  3. I don’t know whether it’s just a reflection of the age of that model Corolla (and, slightly off topic, there’s something about the way that the rear of the car falls away that makes me wince every time I see it) but the colours seem to have faded to a weathered matt. There’s a red which routinely seems to now be a pinky puce. I seem to remember that red was always likely to fade, though I think paint technology has improved these days, which may mean this is no longer the case. For Toyota it’s probably a testament to the build quality of the rest of the car that they have lasted long enough to have become faded. France in particular seems to be a fan of that custard beige of the model above.
    White never looks good unless it’s spotlessly clean and/or in bright sunlight, which in London is never the case for either.
    I’m not a fan of BMWs at all, but in Covent Garden I regularly see a 3 series (E46?) in a great shade of metallic green/grey, which really suits it, stylish in a restrained way. However, as I’ve never seen another like it I’m obviously in a minority.
    It would be great if manufacturers would offer a genuine choice. For all those who say “we have 12 options to choose from” that is arguable if 10 of those are shades of grey.

    1. Paint tech has certainly improved — which rather acts against the obsolescence makers rely on.
      But here in N France I do notice sky-facing panels, especially roofs, that blister all over after no more than 10 years. I put it down to hail followed by strong sun, but have no real idea. Most models, even MBs, can be affected.

  4. Praise be, mister aitch for actually taking such pictures; in our ever more aggressive world it’s wonderful to see the more mundane receiving notoriety be that colour, patina or shape.
    I do like the turmeric Arteon (still un-seen on street, only on-screen) and whilst watching the new Salamander programme, a Renault Talisman in a bronze hue looked tastier than a colourful curry.
    Concerning the orangey Corolla, my nephew has a cough – anyone got a lozenge?

    1. You are welcome and thank you. In Denmark these cars really stand out because about 70% of the national fleet is grey, white or black. That said there is a small but distinct under-current of more lively colours. I have seen several VWs in the same colour as the Arteon shown but none of them were an Arteon. The Opel Adam has been a good car for colour enthusiasts as very few are black/white/silver. Suzuki too have sold a decent number of the new Ignis in its wilder hues. Lastly, Hyundai are doing well with colour fans as well. Some brands rather more than others attract customers who want some chromatic joy in their lives.

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