If this sounds too shady for you, best head to Practical Housekeeping, pronto. This is very blue.
Skilfully avoiding the TV new years sales adverts by heading for the internet, I found a Chevrolet Bel Air for sale. The price and to be honest the car, were immaterial; the colour on the other hand had me transfixed. What turned out to be called Larkspur Blue led me to dig deeper into the world of automotive colours and the differences between manufacturers’ offerings.
Hexadecimal is a cold, clinical sounding code but mighty fine at sorting out those subtle differences between colours. Our eyes, whether myopic or hyperopia, young or old, if blessed with the correct cones in the cornea can differentiate many colours. The shades of all those colours remain the difficult part and we all play ‘name that colour’ when given the option. It’s natural to. The myriad names for blue is huge, hundreds of shades being offered.
Thus #93c3c5 is the exact Hex-code for Larkspur Blue. And exclusive to General Motors. Ford has similar hues called Glacier Green and Tidewater. Nippon Paint has the slick-sounding Smooth Way. Chrysler once offered the marginally darker Aqua, whereas homegrown Bristol gave us the appropriate Seaport. The sole German offering was Brunswick Blue from Volkswagen whereas for me the final straw was finding a company called Graham & Brown who sell Boy Racer Blue.
The 1970’s gave the world some excruciatingly wonderfully named hues to be layered upon sheet steel. From Ford America, you could get your Mustang not just in any old white but Wimbledon White. Should that shade offend, shell out for some Anti-Establishment Mint, a close relative of peppermint.
Mopar gave the world double trouble; should you choose Plymouth, it’d be In Violet whereas Dodge was Plum Crazy. How about Lime Light to Sublime? Moulin Rouge to Panther Pink? Or Lemon Twist to Top Banana? Notice the absence of blue here: literally, none on offer.
And the reason for this would be fashion trends, an archetypical bone of contention that persists to this day. We may look at a fifty year old Panther Pink Dodge Charger today and recoil in horror, but for one, it’s a fun shade and two, it fits. The then design team had found the zeitgeist of their time and nailed it on with pride. And we’d expect nothing less than a modern Mustang in Need For Green, Orange Fury or Velocity Blue. For an aggressive car shape in today’s anodised world, the glove fits, perfectly.
And the opposite applies; one wouldn’t expect a modern S-Class to be anything but a sober, even austere hue. Obsidian Black, Canvasite Blue or for those a little more daring, Ruby Black. But as we all know, pay a manufacture enough hard earned and they’ll paint your car any damn colour you wish, which is leading off track.
We’re dealing with the names of these standard colours, how it differentiates and their meaning or perhaps lack of. I clearly remember a time when not just the car obsessive knew their colour, it was deemed necessary. Your dad’s Capri was most definitely Sapphire Blue Metallic. Didn’t make it go any faster but, by George it wasn’t just blue.
So just what amount of gravitas does a colour’s name contain? To all intents and purposes, none. But oh-so much. Every single brand is reaching out for you to come and buy a specific coloured car that reaches into, enhances, colours your life. It isn’t just black but Phantom Black, as if the ghostly references make it somehow spookier, deeper. It isn’t just red but Rosso Folgore Metallic on today’s Ghibli, since colour (and just about everything else), spoken in Italian simply sounds better.
Only then do you enter the modern vacuum that is the subconscious mood swing (akin to horoscopes) and what your car colour says about you and your inner self. Depending on which site you choose (and there are many) red can signify a magnetic personality, hot-headed, racing or daring. Black suggests strength in depth, classy, defined, strong or mysterious. White can mean vanity, modernity, Apple products, or that it simply came free.
But blue is different. It’s been written here before that blue has a ‘noise’ all its own: it can bring a calmness to proceedings, friendly, but then riotous, trustworthy, moody in a bad way, dependable or downright nasty. As always it’s purely down to what you want to convey.
The Bentley driver in the Sequin Blue coloured Continental might just be as much an aficionado of Liam Gallagher, occasional vegetarianism and lighthouses as the next man in his Tioman Green A1 (named after a Malaysian Island). If the name lends itself some romanticism and can generate a smile in addition to making you feel good about the car you’ve chosen then what harm, say I.
The world needs colour: to avoid buyer remorse, let’s make those fun again. And ditch the grey.