Though not a majority

These days, the most popular car color is white; in North America, 20 percent of 2011 cars were painted white. Which probably explains this:

I remember my car, in general. That is, I know it is white, four-door, has a sun roof and a spoiler and a rubber antenna. I just don’t know what it looks like. So the other day I walked up to a car that looked pretty much like mine, clicked the unlock button, and it didn’t light up. I got in anyway and noted with pleasure that it was cleaner than I had remembered. Then I looked at the dashboard and discovered that it was a Toyota. I had gotten into the wrong car! I quickly exited. Why does everyone have white cars anyway? What’s up with that?

I have no idea. Then again, I have a white car — Aspen White Pearl, says Nissan — with a sun roof and a spoiler, but no rubber antenna.


  1. jsallison »

    8 December 2011 · 7:14 pm

    I’ve got a silver ’07 Accord, for the same reason a lot of folk likely pick white… to wit, it’s bloody f’n hot in these parts a good chunk of the year (these parts = Lawton). My dream car way back when was an ’85 berlinetta fully loaded in dark blue. Loved it but haven’t bought a dark color since.

  2. Deborah »

    8 December 2011 · 9:46 pm

    In 1977, I read a report that said WHITE cars were involved in fewer accidents than any other color of car. I bought a white Toyota that year. Apparently a lot of people read the same report. After that, I had a white LTD Crown Victoria (which caught fire!), and then a white 1996 Cougar, which I am still driving. (As you may have realized, I don’t put a lot of miles on a car.)

  3. CGHill »

    8 December 2011 · 10:28 pm

    So naturally I went chasing down this premise, and came up with this:

    Of the two studies identified that actually sought to test the association between vehicle color and crash involvement, one found that silver cars were least likely to be involved in injury crashes (Furness 2003), and the other found that white or yellow cars were least likely to be struck by other drivers who committed infractions (Lardelli-Claret 2002).

    (Source [pdf].)

  4. Lynn »

    9 December 2011 · 8:45 am

    Based on personal experience I would say that white cars are “popular” because car dealers have a lot of them for sale and will give you a better deal on them. We have had two white vehicles and neither time was white our first color choice. In fact, the second time we said, “Any color but white” and ended up with white anyway.

  5. McGehee »

    9 December 2011 · 9:16 am

    Only white cars I can remember being owned in my family were a ’59 Rambler when I was still too little to open the doors by myself from outside, and a ’65 Dart I had during the early to mid 1990s.

    Most likely color in my family seems to have been various shades of blue (with a couple of browns and yellows, a green and a beige), while in my wife’s family it was red — but her mother’s current ride is … white.

  6. fillyjonk »

    9 December 2011 · 10:14 am

    I don’t know about white cars being less likely to be in an accident, but my dad had a dark green Maverick (this would have been ’73 or ’73, thereabouts). He got into two minor collisions with it, both times the other driver’s fault, both times they said, “I just didn’t see you.”

    He took it to Earl Scheib and had them paint it yellow, one shade lighter than school bus yellow. Ugliest dang car ever, but at least he didn’t get in any more accidents.

  7. hatless in hattiesburg »

    10 December 2011 · 12:47 am

    the color of cars i’ve owned, in order, is: brown, brown, yellow w/black top, black, silver, white. my top ten reasons for buying a white car this time were:

    1) heat reduction,
    2) heat reduction,
    3) heat reduction,
    4) it had great dealer incentives,
    5) it’s equipped almost exactly as i would have ordered,
    6) heat reduction,
    7) heat reduction,
    8) shows less water spots,
    9) good visibility to other drivers, and
    10) heat reduction.

  8. ms7168 »

    10 December 2011 · 9:57 am

    I owned one black car with a black interior. It had a white top which was a saving grace I suppose. That was the hottest car in the Summer. The other thing I hated about it was nearly impossible to keep the car clean! Every speck of dust showed like a sore thumb. Another thing too when you washed it if you didn’t chamois it off carefully it showed every streak.

  9. nightfly »

    12 December 2011 · 1:07 pm

    I’ve often wondered about this. The highways of my youth were much more colorful places – red, blue, green, yellow… Now it’s all black, silver, white, or some variation of charcoal grey. You get the occasional burnt orange grotesquerie, and if there’s a colorful color it’s been carefully darkened to resemble a greyer version of itself – the greens are hunter or forest, the reds are ruby, the blues are metallic.

  10. CGHill »

    12 December 2011 · 1:16 pm

    And for a while we had two-tone, even three-tone paint jobs. Close as you can get to that these days is to order a Mini with a white roof.

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