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Colour choice can make or break your car | Thank Frankel it’s Friday

05th July 2024
andrew_frankel_headshot.jpg Andrew Frankel

You can probably think of numerous subjects upon which you feel entirely unqualified to talk on, let alone with any sense of authority. Quantum physics, perhaps, or 13th century Chinese porcelain, or why the US Supreme Court thinks deeming former presidents to be above the law is somehow a good idea. But actually, I can go one better than that. There is one subject about which I speak with less credibility than someone who knew nothing about it whatsoever. Which, you will agree, is going some. But when the subject is colour, I’m actually worse than useless.

frankel colours flag.jpg

I belong to that small (around one in 25), overwhelmingly male constituency of people who are afflicted with colour-blindness. I simply don’t see the world the same way as you and my understanding is that not only do colours look different to me, so too are they also less distinct and vibrant. When people tell me autumn is their favourite month because of the colours of dying leaves on trees, I have not the faintest idea what they’re talking about. An Aston Martin DBX showed up here earlier in the week which looked to me as if it were shockingly gold, only to be told by a daughter it was actually green.

I understand there are spectacles you can buy which, to some extent, correct the condition, but I also understand that some who wear them for the first time burst into tears when they realise what they’ve been missing. I’d rather remain ignorant. Besides, it’s never really been a problem. It did rule me out of becoming a fighter pilot, but so did being 6ft 4in, and my only real concern was when I started racing cars, because you need to be able to tell a red flag from one that’s green.

Happily I can, and while I can be counted upon to fail every Ishihara test in the book of bubbles, I have been tested by a Motor Sport UK-registered doctor, been approved for racing, and have a certificate to say so.

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Image credit: Ferrari

The strange thing is that despite my affliction, I have as many opinions about colours as the next not-colourblind man, and especially how they relate to cars. So, here are here are a few of them, and if by the end of this column you’re either biting your knuckles to stop your gusts of laughter disturbing other passengers, or if you’re just staring blanking at your screen with literally no idea what I’m talking about, it’s even worse than I thought.

The first is that Ferraris with two seats should be red or possibly yellow, while those with four, even if the two in the back are tiny, should be any colour in the spectrum other than these. Can you imagine a yellow Purosangue? I’d rather not.

The second is that the Porsche 911 is the only car ever built that looks good in white. Why this is I cannot say, but I expect it dates back to childhood memories of the white 2.7 Carrera RS I used to drool over in the local Porsche showroom.

Next? Dazzling colours on humble cars rarely work. Remember the Volkswagen Polo Harlequin from 1997 where every single panel was painted a different colour? It was as novel approach to colouring a car as there has been, and I expect the quickest for that novelty to wear off too. As experiments go, VW has felt no need to repeat it, which probably tells you all you need to know.

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Image credit: Motorsport Images

No car looks better dirty unless living in mud is its specific purpose, so unless you have a really old Land Rover, Daihatsu Fourtrak, Mercedes G-Wagen or similar, don’t do it: it doesn’t look cool, it just makes you look like you care so little about your car you can’t even be bothered to clean it once in a while. But the worst looking cars when dirty are white cars, which is no great surprise, swiftly followed less predictably, by those that are black.

Unconventional colour choice can make, or break, a car sale. The only thing I worried about when I bought a Riviera Blue Porsche 968 Sport – a solid pale hue I always called ‘Municipal Swimming Pool Blue,’ was that it might be impossible to find a buyer when the time came to move it on. In fact, it turned out that it was the colour that sealed the deal.

When it comes to my own choices, I am so insecure about colours I always go for the safest bet – dark metallic blues and greys, silver if I must. But as you will have probably twigged by now, I don’t really know what I’m talking about. Normal service, or what passes for it, resumes next week.

Main imagery courtesy of Motorsport Images.

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