3 Oct 2012

White cars - from rustbucket 'death colour' to gleaming supercars

White was once crap.  A white car was a bad car.  In the nineties, eighties and beyond white cars sold in low numbers, were hard to keep looking good and highlighted the inevitable rust for everyone to see.

White paint used to be flat.  A white car on a dealers forecourt was known as the death colour because it would just sit and wait - unloved and unsold - rusting away in the corner.

For those too young to remember most people who worked for corporations or even mid-sized companies were given a company car.  It was usually a Vauxhall or Ford and often the colour was chosen by the fleet manager.  And it was often white.

But cars from previous decades had a habit of rusting.  Ungalvanised, thin paint and thin steel were a recipe for oxidisation.  Rust does not look good on white cars.

The Metropolitan Police even changed its fleet of cars from white to silver because they couldn't sell their old cars.

So, flat paint with rusty wheel arches and boot lids - white used to be uncool in extremis.

But then, all of a sudden, white was cool again.  In fact white cars now hold their value better than any other.  White is trendy again.  This analysis by CAP shows that.

So now we get white supercars, white small cars, white saloon cars.  White all cars.  The new Hyundai Veloster looks great in white, the 911 GT3 RS looks mega in white.  The Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Black Series looks awesome in white, especially with contrasting black carbon trim and wheels.

Who would have ever thought an estate car would look good in white?  Then Mercedes brought out the CLS Shooting Brake - and most of the early shots were of a white car.

And you know what caused this massive shift in perspectives?  The Audi R8.  From it's launch in 2007 the R8 came in a gleaming, rich, deep white - and it looked sensational.

Soon afterwards other supercars started to appear in white.  Notably the Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, which launched in white in 2008.  

And the whitewash hasn't stopped since.

From supercars to normal road cars white is the colour of choice.  The new Hyundai Veloster launched this week - in white

Chris Evans, DJ and multi-millionaire, rather questionably painted his collection of Ferraris in white.  Fiat 500s look great in white.  Fords, Jaguars, Ferraris all look great in white.

But will the trend last?  Will white once again be consigned to the status of the 'death colour' and sit, stubbornly refusing to shift, on the dealers forecourt.

Will todays gleaming white Ford Focus be tomorrows rusty white elephant?

Probably not.  Painting techniques have improved.  Paint is deeper and richer - it almost glows.  Cars are built to a higher standard and with a higher build quality than older models.  There should be less chance of todays cars rusting when they are getting on a bit.  

So when your white 2012 Range Rover is ten years old it should still look superb, as long as it is looked after and cleaned occasionally.

White cars seem to be here to stay.

But would you buy a white car?