Colors move us

Colors have historic significance, they arouse emotions, they attract attention, and they can blend into the background. When you buy a car and insist on a particular color you are being guided by a gut feeling. Unless your car is one of those plain station wagons which is nothing more than a workhorse and is supposed to be timeless to maintain a high resale value, then we have some “colorful” insights for you. They are not scientific and they don’t apply to everyone, but perhaps you recognize yourself or your friends in these descriptions. Today we’ll look at BLACK cars.

Black cars can seem evil or self-confident.

Black dried fastest

Strictly speaking, black isn’t a color. Black is the absence of light, and therefore the contrast to white which contains all the visible colors. In the automotive industry in particular, black has often been used as paint for various reasons since the very beginning. During the Gründerzeit – the entrepreneurial boom of late 19th-century Germany – it was relatively difficult to produce colored paints which met weather conditions and demands. But there was also another factor that was crucial. Let’s take the Ford Model T as an example, of which more than 15 million were produced between 1908 and 1927. Before 1913 the vehicle was available in red, blue, green and gray. Assembling one vehicle took around 12 hours. With the introduction of assembly lines this time went down to 93 minutes, with one Model T leaving the factory in Detroit every three minutes. Slow-drying paint became a real problem there. Only “Japan black” dried fast enough, which led Henry Ford to quip in his memoirs: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

Elegant and self-confident – or threatening and scary?

Black affects us in two basic ways. It either comes across as elegant and self-confident or as threatening and scary. People like to order large sedans in black because they seem weightier than the same models in white. A shiny, black car is considered to be sturdy and elegant; a matt black one as rebellious and self-confident. Black paint absorbs sunlight, and the vehicle heats up much more quickly in the summer. In the dark, on the other hand, it’s very difficult to spot which takes us back to scary – and to the people who forget to turn on their lights. Black is a color that doesn’t tie a car to contemporary taste. So a black car will always be easier to sell than a green one. Sadly.

Drivers of black cars are …?

Well? How do we best characterize drivers of black cars, unless they chose the cheap leasing leftover or a filthy black rust bucket? They are

  • self-confident and rather
  • authoritarian

Drivers of black cars are

  • ambitious and
  • driven by success.

They claim the road for themselves, but also generously let someone else go first (every once in a while). Am I right?

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