CARS.COM — Two-tone paint jobs on cars are making a mini-comeback. Whether they’ll leave their mark in the sea of gray, monotone cars and SUVs out there, however, remains to be seen.
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Flamboyant colors and combinations never went away for very high-end cars, such as Bugatti’s Veyron, for high rollers wanting to personalize their rides. And pickup trucks have continued to use paint schemes to distinguish special models and trims. But two-tone — and even three-tone — paint combinations for mainstream cars peaked in the middle of the last century and pretty much bit the dust, along with muscle cars and mammoth V-8s, by the end of the 1970s.
Color Outside the Lines
Now we’re seeing a return of some fun with color to affordable cars, such as Toyota’s C-HR and Yaris subcompacts, plus a model of the conservative Camry mid-size sedan. The C-HR’s slogan, in fact, is, “Color outside the lines.”
The paint trend has taken off faster in Europe, where some 20 vehicles offer two-tone models, with more to come, Automotive News recently reported. The Vauxhall/Opel Adam subcompact, for example (slogan: “Just add color”), offers 19 body colors and seven roof colors, as well as color accents for the wheels, mirrors and grille bar.
The current offerings in the U.S. are mostly baby steps, limited to contrasting black, white or gray roofs over a main body color. But even that contrast can make a big difference in the impression the vehicle leaves.
“It’s incredible how people react to the bitone colors,” Alexandre Malval, head of design at Citroen, which offers four models, told Automotive News. “If you give them two colors to assemble, immediately the car has different personalities. Red with a white roof is a little bit sporty; cream with a black roof is a little more solid and tough. One in pastel with a white roof could be a little more feminine.”
Along with the currently fashionable “floating roof” designs with blacked-out roof pillars, a contrasting paint job also helps make an SUV less of a visual brick; the C-HR is a good example.