The Top 5 Classic Car Colors That Define An Era

Looking for the top classic car colors and what they mean in your buying journey?

From British Racing Green’s racing heritage to the sophistication of darker blues and the luxury evoked by warm hues like Beige, Maroon, and Brown, we’ll look at these palette choices and how they can help you make a good investment

You’ll understand how these colors influence value, help you figure out what you should pay for a vintage ride, and you’ll get research and data to help you explore color trends and their relationship with automotive history.

Ford Bronco in British Racing Green in Downtown Knoxville Tennessee

Key Takeaways

  • Classic car colors reflect the spirit of their times, with British Racing Green symbolizing British racing heritage, Dark Blue offering timeless charm, and warm colors like Beige and Maroon reflecting post-war prosperity.
  • Original factory paints are key to a classic car’s authenticity, while customization through paint jobs allows owners to personalize their vehicles, possibly impacting resale value.
  • Color preference trends have varied by decade, from the bold and vibrant hues of the muscle car era to the sophisticated tones of vintage periods, with modern classics fusing historical and contemporary influences.

A Journey Through the Classic Car Color Palette

Colors have always been a defining characteristic of classic cars, encapsulating the spirit of different eras and serving as a reflection of societal trends. Some iconic classic car colors include:

  • British Racing Green, which became a symbol of British sports and luxury cars
  • Dark Blue, which has a timeless appeal
  • Beige, Maroon, and Brown, which exude warmth

Classic car colors are as diverse and unique as the vehicles themselves and each one can give you a reason to purchase those trucks you’ve been eyeing. You can use this color palette generator to give you some crazy fun ideas!

British Racing Green: The Iconic Colour of Vintage Cars

British Racing Green is more than just a color. It is a symbol of British motor racing heritage, a tribute to the successes of British racing teams. 

It all started back in 1903 during the Gordon Bennett Cup in Ireland. The British team, out of respect for their Irish hosts, chose to paint their cars in Shamrock Green. This decision sparked a tradition that would come to define British motorsport, and by extension, British classic cars.

This iconic hue was subsequently adopted by successful British racing teams in the 1950s and 1960s, further solidifying its association with British motorsport. It became a symbol of sophistication, high status, and rich heritage in car culture. From Bentley to Bugatti, several vintage models donned the British Racing Green, making it an enduring symbol of vintage automobiles.

Dark Blue: A Timeless Classic

There’s something about Dark Blue that has always resonated with people across generations.

Perhaps it’s the sense of trust and confidence it exudes, or maybe it’s just a color that makes people feel good. Regardless, Dark Blue has remained a top pick for classic car collectors, and for good reason.

The first cars were dark blue, and darker blues have remained popular throughout the years. Some of the most iconic classic cars are known for their Dark Blue hues, such as the 1935 Bugatti Type 35B, 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe, and the ‘68 Camaro SS396. It’s a color that transcends trends and maintains its appeal, regardless of the changing times.

Warm Shades: Beige, Maroon, and Brown

Warm shades of paint like Beige, Maroon, and Brown have a unique feel that has captured the hearts of car collectors over the years. 

These colors, associated with a sense of luxury and class, are especially popular in upscale models from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and VW. The ‘62 Amby in Bahama Beige is a perfect example of how a warm shade can elevate a car’s aesthetic appeal.

Interestingly, the popularity of warm shades was also influenced by the socio-economic conditions of the time. After World War II, car manufacturers opted for these colors to reflect the newfound prosperity and optimism of the era. 

Darker maroons, blues, and greens were popular choices for cheaper cars, while luxury cars embraced subtle colors like deep blues, grayish greens, maroon, ivory, and brown. The 70s saw a resurgence of brown and beige, along with metallic greens and oranges, further cementing the popularity of warm shades in classic cars.

Classic Car colors associated with a sense of luxury and class

The Impact of Car Manufacturers on Classic Car Colors

Car manufacturers have played an instrumental role in shaping the color palettes of classic cars. From the vibrant hues inspired by ivory and jewels in the 1920s to the pastel tones of the 50s influenced by Cadillac ads, car makers have constantly pushed the envelope when it comes to color choices.

We’ll explore how factory paints and customization options have enriched the diversity of classic car colors.

Factory Paints: Originality and Authenticity

Every classic car enthusiast values factory paints. These original colors, which a car came with as it left the factory, are important to uphold as they preserve the authenticity and historical significance of the vehicle.

From Renault’s Liquid Yellow to BMW’s Estoril Blue, factory paints introduced some really innovative and distinctive color palettes that became iconic for their brands. 

Ford, for instance, offered a range of eye-catching hues like Bright Yellow, Grabber Blue, and Grabber Orange for their 1970 muscle cars and Broncos, while luxury brands like Mercedes and Rolls-Royce opted for sophisticated silver paint jobs in the 1930s. 

Each of these factory paint colors is a nod to the original design and vision of the car manufacturers, and preserving them is a testament to the car’s rich history.

Customization: Making a Statement

While factory paints preserve a classic car’s authenticity, customization offers car owners an avenue to uniquely personalize their vehicles. Through custom paint jobs, car owners can infuse their personal style into their classic cars, making each vehicle a reflection of their personality.

A custom paint job undoubtedly makes a car stand out, yet it’s worth remembering that it could potentially influence the car’s resale value. While rare and unique colors can potentially increase the value of a car, a custom paint job might make it harder to sell. Despite this, the joy of driving a classic car that is a true reflection of your personality is priceless.

Most Popular Classic Car Colors by Decade

Looking at the most popular classic car colors by decade, from the bold hues of the muscle car era to the refined tones of the vintage car period to see how specific colors have characterized different periods of time.

The Muscle Car Era: Bold and Vibrant Hues

The muscle car era was all about making a statement. The colors of this era were just as bold and audacious as the cars themselves. Bright reds, oranges, and yellows were the go-to colors, each one a vibrant testament to the power and performance these cars were renowned for.

Iconic colors like Grabber Yellow, Grabber Blue, and Plum Crazy / In Violet were particularly popular during this time. These bold hues perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the muscle car era, a time of power and performance, where cars were not just modes of transport but a statement of identity.

The Vintage Car Period: Subtle and Sophisticated Tones

The vintage car period was marked by a shift towards subtler and more sophisticated tones. This shift reflected the changing societal attitudes and design trends of the time. Colors inspired by ivory or jewels made way for chrome accents and single-color streamlined looks, reflecting the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne design trends.

Popular color choices for cars during this time included:

  • Grey
  • Black
  • White
  • Blue
  • Red
  • Dark green

These colors were not only a nod to the trends of the time but also a reflection of the economic struggles faced by car manufacturers.

Modern Classics: A Fusion of Old and New

Modern Classics - A Fusion of Old and New

Modern classic cars are a beautiful blend of old and new. They combine the historical influences of classic car colors with current design trends, creating a fusion that is both nostalgic and contemporary. Today, most cars come in safer colors like:

  • white
  • silver
  • grey
  • black

When it comes to color preferences, nearly everyone opts for classic shades, with the occasional dark blue for those feeling a little adventurous.

This fusion of old and new is not just about color but also about design. Elements like chrome trim from the vintage era continue to feature in today’s designs, adding a nostalgic touch to modern classics.

Buying and Selling Classic Cars: The Role of Color in the Decision-Making Process

In the process of buying and selling classic cars, color significantly influences the decisions made – from investigating classic car colors to comprehending the effect of color on resale value, there’s much to take into account.

Let’s examine how color sways the buying and selling process of classic cars.

Researching Classic Car Colors: A Guide for Buyers

Buying a classic car is not just about choosing a model that you love; it’s also about selecting a color that enhances the car’s aesthetic appeal and aligns with your personal style. Investigating classic car colors is a vital step in the buying process.

Color can significantly impact a car’s value. Some popular classic car colors include:

  • Camaro Hugger Orange
  • Mustang Grabber Blue
  • ‘Cuda Plum Crazy
  • British Racing Green
  • Ferrari Fly Yellow

Brown, purple, and gold cars are said to be less likely to hold their value compared to red, blue, green, yellow, or orange cars. While this could be true, it’s really the choice of the person buying the car – find the right buyer or the right seller and you can both make a deal you’ll be happy with.

When purchasing a classic car, it’s important to pick a color that’s not just pleasing to the eye but also capable of retaining its value (and if you talk to buyers, a number of them want the color to make the car or truck look fast!)

The Resale Value of Classic Car Colors

In the sale of a classic car, the color is a key element that can affect its appeal and, in the end, dictate its resale value. While unique and rare colors can potentially increase a car’s value, certain colors like yellow and brown can lower its resale value.

The most popular classic car colors for selling are silver, red, and black. However, the least popular ones include purple, yellow, gold, and orange. It’s interesting to note that while these colors may not be popular, they can potentially increase the value of certain models. After all, the beauty of a classic car lies in its uniqueness, and a rare color can add to its charm.


Classic car colors are a meaningful part of our automotive history. They reflect societal trends, personal preferences, and design innovations. From the iconic British Racing Green and the timeless Dark Blue to the warm shades of Beige, Maroon, and Brown, each color tells a story about the era it represents. As we drive forward, let’s appreciate the vibrant tapestry of hues that have graced our classic cars, each one a vibrant testament to the spirit and legacy of these stunning machines.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the timeless colors for cars?

Timeless colors for cars include white, black, grey, and silver. These colors have remained consistently popular globally and are relatively easy to maintain over time.

What colour is best for old car?

Stick with white, black, gray, or silver as they retain their value better, while flashier colors may be harder to sell.

What are the top 3 car colors?

The top 3 car colors are white, black, and gray or silver, according to a study analyzing 10 million vehicles from 2018 to 2023.

What is British Racing Green, and why is it significant in vintage cars?

British Racing Green is a significant color in vintage cars. It is iconic in British motor racing, symbolizing success and a rich heritage. The color dates back to the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1903.

Car manufacturers had a big impact on classic car color trends, introducing vibrant hues in the 1920s and pastel shades in the 50s, shaping the color palettes of classic cars.

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