You Can Buy Any Color Car You Want, Just Make Sure It’s White

“Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

That’s a quote from Henry Ford, back in 1909. The reason for such a policy was the belief that having only one color would lead to production efficiencies which would lead to lower costs of production, which would lead to lower prices for consumers.

That may have worked 100 years ago, but today, customers demand choice.

Or do they?

According to a report from Axalta, 38% of people prefer white as their car color, followed by 19% for black, 13% for gray, and 10% for silver. That means that four colors make up 80% of car sales. And those colors are probably what most people would consider being the blandest of color possibilities. (the color of my car is silver, so I’m almost a rebel.)

There must be a reason for white’s popularity as a car color, and there are several:

  • Used white cars and trucks are easier to sell because of the neutral tone, leading to a higher resale value
  • White cars are more visible, which results in lower accident rates compared with dark cars, which in turn results in lower insurance costs. White vehicles stand out against the black surfaces of roads and the bright colors of forests and cities. According to one report, white vehicles are 12 percent less likely to get in accidents than black vehicles. In addition, white cars are more visible at night because it reflects the maximum light that falls on it.
  • White cars are easier to paint over. White car paint hides dirt and grime very well overall.
  • If you live in a snowy climate, white cars hide salt better than darker colors
  • Just like in the fashion world, white makes things look larger as opposed to the slimming and reducing color of black.
  • When it is hot out, white cars tend to heat up a little less than darker-colored cars because they reflect a lot of heat . Less heat means cooler interiors.
  • Little scratches and dents are not easily visible on white cars

My mom had told me a long time ago that she would only ever buy a white car because she had heard it was the safest. I secretly questioned such a belief, and often wondered where she heard it. I put it up there with my mom returning a Oujia Board because it didn’t work, and her claim that “farting is better than the sound of an ambulance“.

But I guess my mom was right after all about white cars.

Looks like I may have to check into that farting claim a bit more seriously…

*image from WardsAuto

**post inspired by “Why ‘Winter White’ Is the Only Car Color You Want” in today’s Wall Street Journal, written by Dan Neil


30 thoughts on “You Can Buy Any Color Car You Want, Just Make Sure It’s White

  1. Having recently purchased a black pick-up truck, I can confirm Axalta’s report. White and black were almost always the two most popular color of cars on the lot.

    I operate by simple economics when it comes to buying a vehicle. I know of friends that purchase a different vehicle nearly every year, but that is one of the worst decisions a buyer can make financially. The depreciation alone is like flushing money down the drain. When I buy a vehicle, it’s going to be with me for the long haul.


  2. I currently have a white car. The first I have ever owned. I think I avoided it before, because it seemed like it would be so hard to keep appearing clean and washed. However, I can confirm all your reasonings above, except for the safety question. I believe the logic holds true in that they are more readily seen, but I have no data on overall safety as compared to other colors. Again, you have taken the ordinary and turned into an interesting and entertaining post. I am going to start calling you ‘seasoning’, as you always find away to add your unique flavor to things!


    1. thanks, Brad. I think there is data to support the safety claim of white cars. That being said, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white Lamborghini or Ferrari – not that I’ve been looking. I’ll keep in mind that too much seasoning could ruin a perfectly good meal/post! 🙂


  3. I only like colourful cars – even though I don’t drive – and there is a good argument for colour as illustrated in the picture – you can find your car in the car park. Our friends had a bright yellow car and when they bought a new black car they could never find it and had to have green flashes added to it.


  4. LOL at this post. I hadn’t heard that quote by Ford before. I have never wanted a white car, but I have been wanting a shiny blue one, or bright green can be pretty as well. I just PLEASE want some color with our next vehicle! I have had silver cars all my life, so I had to smile when you said yours was silver. Nothing wrong with silver, but I am tired of it! It just has seemed that I am jinxed with the color silver. My husband has this weird thinking that we should get what we can afford, not just go by whatever color I think is nicest! LOL!


  5. I finally took the plunge back into the color sphere and claimed a “Brilliant Blue Metallic” car last summer after 20 plus years of Black, Grey, Silver. Repeat cycle. It seems to agree with me.


  6. This is so interesting I never knew how popular white cars were. Personally I prefer black or silver but I get why white ones are so popular.


    1. We had a white car for quite a while as well, but now I have a silver car – with lots of miles on it. And thanks for your concern; we were about 120 miles from the shooting. So sad…


  7. I’m in the 20%. I’ve never had a white car. My current car is amethyst gray but it looks beige. I’m swearing off black interiors because it is harder to find things like cell phones especially at night.


    1. I never would have thought of the cell phone issue when choosing a car color – and certainly Henry Ford would have never thought about that one! 🙂


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