Any Colour You Like – As Long As It’s Not Black

The most popular colours for a new car in 2020 were grey, black and white – but not everybody wants to be that on trend. Whilst red was once the paintwork of choice for a flashy sportster, there’s now a dazzling palette of colours available to ensure a supercar really stands out from the crowd.

Buyers are willing to pay tens of thousands of pounds extra to add a special splash of paint to their cars. All the luxury brands, from Bugatti to Porsche, offer personalisation programmes, with a ‘boutique’ of colours that go way beyond anything created by Farrow & Ball.

Maserati Grigio Maratea, Lamborghini Green Khepri or McLaren Mauvine Blue – the manufacturer marketing departments have also been kept busy, stretching the limits of the language to dream up names for a pot of ‘unique’ cellulose.

Two-thirds of Lamborghini buyers make use of the company’s AdPersonam service for bespoke features on their new cars – the majority opting for special paintwork. For example, a Blue Symi paintjob on a £137,000 Huracan costs more than £11,000 extra.

The company’s head of design, Mitja Borkert, said: “Some other manufacturers don’t use colour so much but right from the start of the company in 1963, Lamborghini has made a statement with paint.

“Back then it was bright yellow, orange and green – we did not have a signature colour like Ferrari red. Instead, we created a unique chromatic rainbow. The colour chart was broad from the outset and custom designs were always available.”

Maserati has created six special colours for its forthcoming MC20 supercar, which will top 200mph and eventually feature battery power. The £187,000 two-seater marks a new era for the company and is a rival for Porsche and McLaren.

MC20 colour specialist, Rossella Guasco, said: “The six-colour range we have chosen was conceived, designed and developed exclusively for this car. Behind each colour lies a great deal of development work.

“All the shades were evolved by combining two factors. One is a strong reference to Italian design and workmanship, the other linked to the brand’s history and a number of historic models and their reinterpretation.”

Renault’s premium Alpine A110 sports car has a lineage that dates back to the 1950s, with historic wins at Le Mans and the Monte Carlo Rally. Relaunched in the UK in 2018, the company now offers a specific Colour Edition model every year.

The current limited edition Jaune Tournesol (sunflower yellow) is a reimaging of a heritage colour that was popular in the sixties – reformulated with modern ingredients for longevity and impact.

Alpine Chief designer, Anthony Villain, explained: “The colour of your car is an extension of character – you choose a paint that truly reflects who you are and one that tells a story.”

Bentley offers 120 exclusive colours in their range but if none reflect the personality of the owner, they can create their own. Once applied and lacquered, the paintwork is then fine-sanded and polished with lamb’s wool for more than 12 hours.

To prove they are the king of colour – or as inspiration for a buyer who simply can’t decide – Bentley created a one-off rainbow-inspired Continental GT last summer. The car was for a local authority event held near the company’s Crewe headquarters.

Even Rolls-Royce has tapped into the market for bespoke colour schemes. The Ghost Elegance includes 1,000 ethically-sourced diamonds ground up and mixed into the paint for extra sparkle.

To stop the car feeling like a fine sandpaper, a special layer of lacquer is applied and then hand-finished by craftsmen. A ‘standard’ Ghost limousine costs from £233,000 but the West Sussex-based company is coy about revealing the price of their diamond offering.

The pot of colours available on cars today is vastly different from the earliest vehicles on the road, built at the turn of the 20th century. They had no bodywork, and since the only visible metal was the frame, it was usually painted black – not for aesthetic purposes but to protect metal from corrosion.

The idea of national colours on cars began when American motoring enthusiast, Count Eliot Morris Zborowski, invited teams from around the world to compete in the Gordon Bennett Cup. French cars were blue, the Belgians were assigned yellow, while England chose what became known as British racing green.

In more recent times, Lamborghini probably did have the most impact on colour with the launch of the iconic Miura in 1966. Launched in an era of Mary Quant mini-skirts and Andy Warhol pop art, the colour palette suddenly exploded.

Twiggy chose a Verde Giallo (yellow-green) for her Miura, enhanced with red stripes. The Shah of Persia opted for an even bolder Arancio (orange), while a tartan-clad Rod Stewart perhaps unusually selected a more sedate Bianco (white).