I have previously groused about white cars and how I have found myself owning an oddly high number of them, especially when I don’t really like white cars that well. Today I ask a question – what is it about red? I am referring specifically to cars painted that metallic red shade that is well-represented in every parking lot. Why are “red people” catered to so consistently while those of us who might be “blue people” or “green people” or “earth-tone people” are not?
I was sort of in on the ground floor of the metallic red movement. I am not talking about plain, old, garden variety fire engine red, but the metallic red that has taken over. The first car I remember our family having was painted that color. It was an unusual shade at the time – too light to be a real maroon, but definitely not the hot, fire engine red so often on cars back then. It was a 1961 Oldsmobile station wagon (not the “real” Oldsmobile, but the new compact F-85 model that eventually became known as the Cutlass, so I guess I am on the ground floor of another automotive phenomenon too.
About the time we got rid of ours in 1964 I met my best friend Tim whose family bought a new car right about that time. The extremely unusual Studebaker Avanti, and theirs was painted in a color that looked to me just like our newly departed Oldsmobile. I later learned that it was the exact same paint formula that Studebaker picked up during its final effort to stay in business. Tim’s father kept his Avanti for decades and car-crazy me noticed that it was a color offered by pretty much nobody else all through the rest of the 60s and into the early 70s.
My mother was shopping for a car in 1974 and bought a Pontiac LeMans painted metallic red – though this one tiptoed right up to the line of a proper maroon. It was an unusual color in that sea of earth tones that was the early 70s and I liked it at the time. But right about then it seemed to catch on and become really popular. Not every model in every year common, but many models over many years common., so that by the late 70s it was more often than not one of the choices at your new car dealership of choice.
As color availability has slimmed, there have been constants that you can always count on in a car lot – silver, white, gray . . . and metallic red. Really, it doesn’t matter the class of vehicle or the decade. Metallic red has been on the color chart almost constantly whether you wanted a minivan in 1984,
a convertible in 1994,
an SUV in 2004 or
a pickup truck in 2014. Go ahead and look in any parking lot or line of cars at a traffic light and see if I am not right.
It has been my experience that when you ask someone “what’s your favorite color” you get answers that cover the spectrum. Literally – who here remembers Roy G Biv as an aid to remembering the makeup of the color spectrum? So, why is it that Red Car People have been catered to regularly and consistently while those of us who may be Blue Car People or Green Car People or Earth Tone Car People are often ignored? Yes, I know that every dog has its day and if you like purple or turquoise cars you had better be prepared to wait about 30 years between new rides. And if you like the less common colors you are used to having to settle for something else. But why is it always red for which we usually have to settle?
Is it that Red Car People spend so much more money? Do they answer surveys more frequently? Or are they just the kinds of people who will gripe incessantly like spoiled children until they get their way? I’m actually betting on that last one. We Non-Reddies must just suck it up and take what they hand us. Or go back to silver.
I am finally starting to wonder if I am getting close to squeezing all of the useful life out of at least half of the JP automotive fleet (the half that is white), and I am serving notice: My next new car is going to be a color. A real color. And I am going to pick it because I like it. I may even pick it if I don’t really like it, just because it isn’t black white or gray. So, automotive industry, if you want my money you had better be prepared to cater to my whims. Those Red Car People have gotten their way long enough!
None of the vehicle photos is of an actual vehicle owned by me or anyone in my family. Each was a random picture from the internet and/or a promotional shot by a vehicle manufacturer. No red cars (or Red Car People) were harmed in the writing of this blog post.