Which colour?

Does colour choice really matter?

Does colour choice really matter?

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.

If it costs you £500 for a metallic finish, your car may well be worth £2,000 more than a model with a flat finish, one year down the line, according to Eurotax Glass's.

With sports cars and convertibles, the return on investment is even greater. A metallic version may be worth up to £4,000 more than models with a flat finish, one year on.

Silver Machine

Henry Ford famously offered the Model T in 'any colour so long as it's black'. Today, you can get virtually any colour, but look around a car park and you'll realise we're still rather conservative in our tastes.

In the July 2011 AA/Populus survey we asked your views on car colours - what you've got and what you would choose if you could.

The survey showed that a lot of us end up with a colour of car that wouldn't be first choice. One in three younger drivers (18-34) would choose black but only one in six has a black car. Just 13% of this age group would pick a silver car, yet 22% have one.

Overall 22% want a silver car and 25% have one. Silver is the number one choice of members aged 55 and over.

Across all ages, desire versus reality looks like (colour - wanted v owned):

  • Blue - 22% v 23%
  • Silver - 22% v 25%
  • Black - 20% v 14%
  • Red - 12% v 11%
  • Grey - 6% v 9%
  • White - 5% v 4%
  • Green - 5% v 7%
  • Yellow - 2% v 1%
  • Gold - 2% v 2%
  • Brown - 0% v 1%

Many are drawn to silver because they think it's easier to keep clean - In our survey 27% said they thought that it's the colour that shows dirt the least. Gold, yellow, green and white cars were voted the least easy to keep clean.

There are only two clear contenders for the car colour felt to be easiest to sell: silver (28%) and black (15%). Younger drivers favour black (21%) but those over 25 increasingly expect silver to sell first.

More from the AA/Populus car colour survey »

And because we're conservative about colour, the manufacturers are, too. Blue, black, grey and silver are a safe bet for them. In fact, many car manufacturers now offer several shades of silver on each model, to ensure the colour's continued popularity.

You can get other colours of course, but you'll probably have to wait. If you can have the silver car in a week or the yellow in three months, which would you take?

Colour and Design

Certain makes of car look best in a certain colour, and picking the wrong one could make the car harder to sell. A Ferrari in any colour other than red may be less desirable and whilst white is ok for delivery vans and police cars, does it really look right on a sports car?

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?

A new model will look smarter in certain colours than others in the range as, when designing the car the manufacturer may have had a particular colour in mind. 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.

(22 February 2012)