PH Service History: Fifty shades

If used car journos like your humble correspondent are to be believed, silver is the only colour to buy. For years, us lot have espoused the virtues of silver, grey or black cars for ease of resale, ensuring essentially that you can get rid of your next car before you've even bought it. And it seems this advice is borne out on the market itself where, in the first quarter of 2018, monochrome colours accounted for 1.3 million used car sales - more than the rest of the spectrum combined.

The trouble with this, of course, is that while it's a safe option, it makes our roads a very dull place. Stand on a motorway bridge and the traffic streaming beneath you can seem like a cavalcade of anonymity, each car differentiated only by a slightly lighter or darker shade of grey. Wouldn't it be far more interesting if we chose something a little more colourful?

Of course, I understand I'm at risk of sounding rather vacuous here, but really, you could do an awful lot worse than buying based on colour. After all, it seems a shame to spend your life driving a car bought for the person who'll own it after you. What's more, with some exceptions (I'm looking at you, salmon pink Fiat 500), it's usually the more brightly coloured cars that are the more interesting.

Actually, my attention right now has been diverted by another kind of Fiat, one that's a little older, a lot more interesting and much less of a pastiche: this Fiat Punto GT. It's super rare to find a good one of these kicking around, let alone one finished in this delightfully 1990s shade of metallic gold (which, as the advert points out, was one of the launch colours for the model). That this one's a low-miler with evidence of plenty of care and maintenance, including a recent cambelt, only adds to its appeal. Not a bad way to get yourself a fix of colour - especially given that it's £3,500. Who said all the cool old hot hatches were stupid money now?

Or, for only a couple of hundred quid more, how's about this rather tidy old W124 Mercedes 230TE Estate? Surely the classiest old wagon out there for the money, this one's finished in a very fetching two-tone metallic turquoise with a cream leather interior. Sounds awful, I know, but I reckon it works. The 141k on the clock shouldn't trouble it, especially given the history, and it's had quite a lot of expensive bits replaced recently which is a sign the previous owner hasn't shirked repairs. Plus, while these old estates aren't prime future classic fodder, you shouldn't lose money on one.

If green's more your thing, may I draw your attention to this fantastic Porsche 911 SC? At £54,995, it's possibly a little on the strong side, but then again what air-cooled 911 isn't these days? The colour combo's just terrific, too - Lindgrun on the outside with the beige dress tartan interior. What's more, this example's had an enormous amount of restorative work thrown at it, so if the advert's to be believed, it's in prime condition for using and enjoying - though I'd reserve judgement till you've looked it over, as the alignment on that nearside front wing looks a little wonky. Still, I'm probably in the minority here, but a classic 911 specced like this one would be high on my list of lottery win cars.

Mind you, if that's a little too 'period' for you, how's about this BMW 1 M Coupe, a blast of orange in a world of drab grey German saloons? The mileage on this one is practically non-existent at just 17k - and while in using it more you'll probably destroy some of its considerable value, it seems a shame to leave it tucked up in a garage. And anyway, while these 1 Ms might seem bonkers expensive right now, I reckon in 10 or 20 years' time, we'll look back and think of this as cheap, so you can probably afford to stick a few more miles on it. And in any case, you wouldn't be buying a bright orange car if you were all that fussed about resale values, would you?

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (46) Join the discussion on the forum

  • NorthernSky 20 May 2018

    I can't understand why you'd get a fast car in a shade of resale grey! It's all about the lairy colours... But I guess I am biased...

  • Evilex 20 May 2018

    It's not all good news.
    My current vehicle falls into the shade of the spectrum known as "turquoise".
    I don't know what FIAT called it, but the V5c says it's "blue".
    Trouble is, if you park it next to something blue, it looks green. Park it next to something green, and it looks blue.

    When you start getting PCNs from parking enforcement agents after paying for your parking using apps on your phone that require you to enter the colour, the problem becomes apparent.
    Do they check the 'plate? Apparently not, it seems!

  • Dale487 20 May 2018

    I drive a silver car.

    I initial when out with the eye to buy a burnt orange Seat Ateca, but didn't due to a 9 month wait list.

    I ended up with what a nearly new Seat Leon FR ST in silver, I did try to find comparable car in a more interesting colour (red maybe) but any available were £1500 more (that's the kind of money Porsche charge for some of their special colours).

    The silver works well with the sharp styling creases the Leon has, showing them off nicely - which were completely lost in the black courtesy car I had when the lost sat nav SD card was being reinstalled.

    I think there's nothing wrong with Black, white, silver, grey etc, as long as you have an interesting interior colour - like the red seats in the early Type-R Hondas or the tartan seats in the Golf GTI, plus the red GTI details work best with these colours too.

    Fiat, particularly around the late nineties, had a great range of interesting colours.

  • Leins 20 May 2018

    All of my cars are shades of either silver or grey - am I alone in not being bored with these colours?

  • thunderace887 20 May 2018


    Surely the majority of cars are painted in one colour.

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