Any Color You Want...Including Black

October 27, 2005
Lets start with a bit of trivia: automotive pioneer Henry Ford is famous for telling customers they could order a car "in any color, as long as it's black?" Do you know why?

I'll explain in a moment, but these days, it seems, you can find just about any color in the rainbow, including the sexy orange of the Ford GT roadster concept that follows this item. If you're willing to spend the money, you can get some incredible aftermarket hues, including special paints that change shades, depending on the viewing angle.

But despite all the available offerings, it seems that silver remains the most popular choice in the U.S., for the fifth year in a row, according to the annual global color popularity survey conducted by PPG Industries. It accounted for 26 percent of all cars, trucks and crossovers sold during the 2005 model-year, down from 27 percent the year before. And it's likely to remain that way "for several years to come due to its appeal among designers to highlight the form and shape of a vehicle,” explained Lorene C. Boettcher, PPG's color marketing manager. Silver, incidentally, is also the most popular shade outside the U.S., tinting more than a third of the cars sold worldwide.

Other popular U.S. colors, in order, included white, at 16 percent, while "naturals," which include champagne, gold, copper and lighter shades of brown and yellow, accounted for 14 percent of the market. Red came in at 13 percent, and that perennial mainstay, black, captured 11 percent.

Which gets us back to the question of why Ford so loved black. Simple -- in the early days of automotive manufacturing, color paints could take days to dry, clogging up storage yards and often requiring costly repairs. Black dried fastest and was thus less prone to damage.

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