Do you drive a black car? Stop. Park it, sell it, dump it, but don't, whatever you do, drive it. This is an exaggeration, of course, however, according to research on road traffic accidents and analysis from psychologists, there are several reason you might want to avoid this bold style statement, not least because black cars get unbearably hot if left outside this time of year.
So why is it dangerous (apart from the stealthy gangster persona that comes with a black car, particularly if you opt for blacked-out wheels and heavily tinted windows)? According to research from Monash University in Australia, black cars are up to 47 per cent more likely to be involved in crashes. That’s based on a 20-year study of police data from 850,000 accidents.
Safe and savvy in silver
The safest cars according to the study were white, gold, yellow and orange. Apparently this is due more to the visibility of the car rather than who is driving. The report also suggests that drivers who take more risks might opt for colours such as black, as well as, surprisingly, silver and grey, although the latter two colours being part of this list might simply mean there are more silver and grey cars on the roads.
On the other side of the world, research by Fixed.co.uk, says that the grey family is the car hue of choice for more modest individuals, at least in the UK. This is also backed up by cognitive psychologist Hailey van Braam, who says a silver car owner is likely to be practical and responsible.
She does add, though, that the person could also be into tech and innovation because of silver’s association with technology (well, what colour is your MacBook?).
The most popular car colour globally is white (for the 10th consecutive year), according to a report by industrial coating firm Axalta. It accounts for 38 per cent of all cars, followed by black, grey, silver, red and blue.
What does a white car say about you? Compiling the results of several studies, including those cited above, most agree that white traditionally suggests innocence, purity and cleanliness. The driver is likely to be calm and sophisticated, although it also depends on the vehicle of choice. A white Rolls-Royce is the height of opulence, for example, while a white Toyota Hilux is just another beat-up workhorse.
Blue is looked upon as down to earth and professional, suggesting the owner is reliable. Brown is thought to be the car colour of choice for the introverted, green for the rebellious, orange for the fun and adventurous, and beige for the refined and elegant. Unsurprisingly, red is for attention-seekers and could indicate energy, power, ambition and confidence, or at least the desire to have these qualities.
Ironically, it is likely that none of this matters in the end, because most of us are driving the wrong colour car. Research by Nissan in the UK revealed that an astonishing 86 per cent of car buyers made a different choice of paint finish vis a vie their psychological profiles.
The trouble is, when it comes to putting down big money on a new motor, people end up being conservative.
Hence we end up with car parks full of white, grey and silver cars, because that’s the sensible and most common palette and it means the vehicle will be easy to sell on.
Nissan commissioned colour psychologist Karen Haller for its research, who explains: “Social factors come into play with colour choice. For example, in times of economic uncertainty, it’s common for people to play it safe and pick a car with a neutral palette.”
That makes perfect sense in these chastened times of economic fragility, especially considering the pandemic. Rewind back to the optimistic post-war periods of the 1950s and 1960s, however, and you’ll see plenty of bright pastel shades rolling down the streets.
Customise your colour
If you’re brave enough to go with the colour you really want, but the dealer doesn’t do it, choose the customisation route. Some spend as much as Dh100,000 ($27,229) on specialised paint jobs, confirms Bear Garcia, formerly of the world-renowned car customisation specialists West Coast Customs, and now owner of California Studios Garage in Al Quoz, Dubai.
“When I first came to the UAE over a decade ago, car colours were very boring,” he says, citing mostly white and silver cars. “Now it’s much more open. People are keener to express their personality and how they feel through their car colour.”
The internet has also provided inspiration and confidence, with people now opting for “candys, metal flakes, pearls and many unique colours; if people have the money, they’re doing it," says Garcia. “I’ve had some pretty crazy requests; some I’ve even declined because I didn’t want to put my name to it, such as interior and exterior colours that didn’t match … but anything is possible. We’ve even painted woodgrain for a customer who wanted an old-school look.”
It turns out, then, what your car colour says about you may not be much at all. Not unless you’re audacious enough to get the hue that’s really you.