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Car buying

Which colour?

Does colour choice really matter?

Compared with engine spec and extras, colour is hardly a crucial decision, but if you choose the wrong colour, you might find it harder to sell at the best price when you come to sell it on.

Metallic paint has been the most popular optional extra on new cars for many years- not only does it look good, it can benefit your pocket in the long run, too.

White has become the new silver

According to the latest new car registration figures released by the SMMT, White has been the most popular new car colour for the past three years.

In 2015 more than a fifth (21.4%) of new cars were white compared with less than 1% ten years earlier.

In contrast, silver, which was the most popular new car colour through most of the 2000s, now accounts for just over 10% of new car sales and comes 6th in the SMMT's top ten:

  1. White - 21.4% (up 2.2% on 2014)
  2. Black - 19.4% (up 5.3%)
  3. Grey - 15.6% (up 21.1%)
  4. Blue - 14.7% (up 15.5%)
  5. Red - 12.1% (up 1.8%)
  6. Silver - 11.2% (down 5.2%)
  7. Green - 1.1% (up 31.2%)
  8. Brown - 1.0% (down 23.3%)
  9. Orange - 0.7% (up 25.7%)
  10. Mauve - 0.5% (up 30%)

Henry Ford famously offered the Model T in 'any colour so long as it's black', but today of course you can get virtually any colour you like.

The SMMT's figures show that we may finally be becoming less conservative in our choice of car colour with mauve, orange, yellow and green all increasing in popularity.

The share of new car sales taken by blue cars has also grown steadily over the past three years.

Colour and Design

Picking the wrong colour could make a car harder to sell but tastes do change.  Ten years ago white was really only considered suitable for delivery vans and police cars but now it's the most popular new car colour by a considerable margin.

Bright colours suit sports cars and hot hatches, but do they look as good on executive cars, where silver or black is usually the colour of choice?

Most models will look smarter in certain colours as the manufacturer may have had a particular colour in mind as the car was designed. Our car reviews include a section on colour and trim in which we try to identify the good lookers.

Another aspect to look at is the colour of the trim. On a car with a dark body colour, a light-coloured trim may look smart, but it might not be so practical if your car's at the mercy of family wear and tear.

It's a Steal

Want to know if some colour cars are more likely to get stolen? There's no strong link between car colour and theft.

A 1998 AA survey found that red and blue cars were the most popular target for thieves. Blue and red also happen to be the most popular colours on the road though.

Used Cars

If you're buying a used car, check the colour matches the description on the registration document. Any changes in shade from panel to panel may indicate accident damage.

See our tips on buying a used car »

The safest colour?

We can't say that one colour's safer on the road than any other.

Studies have looked for links between colour and accident rate, to see if it's possible to prove that certain colours are more visible – and therefore safer – than others.

A study in New Zealand (published in the British Medical Journal in 2003) looked at the effect of car colour and the risk of injury in a crash, and suggested that silver is the safest colour. But there are so many factors involved in an accident that it's impossible to be certain. The result could be influenced by the type of driver that typically buys a silver car, the driving conditions or the safety equipment fitted.

(updated 12 February 2016)