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Car Psychology 101: What Your Car’s Color Tells Me About You

Posted in auto industry, Car Buying, Design, Funny by Kurt Ernst | November 4th, 2010 | 13 Responses |

What color is this? 'Conflicted'

We Americans are a rather conservative lot: the most popular choices for automobile paint in recent years have been silver and charcoal, with about 31% of the market, followed by black (18%), white (18%), red (11%) and blue (10%). If you opted for a natural tone, like brown, tan or gold, consider yourself in the 8% minority, and if you opted for green (like 4% of the unhip car buying population), you’re just not one of the cool kids anymore. Odd, because just 16 years ago, green was the color to be seen in.

Now that we know what color cars people are buying, what does that really tell us about the innermost workings of their psyche? If you drive a red car, does it really mean you pay women to dress in leather corsets, beat you with a riding crop and call you worm? If you drive a silver car, does it mean you’ve got a gun safe full of assault rifles, a closet full of ammo and a well worn picture of Sarah Palin in a bikini? Probably not, and I’d caution anyone against reading too much into pop psychology. Like statistics, readily dispensed psychological advice can be twisted to show anything you need it to. If theis makes you chuckle, good. If it fills you with rage that even a handful of valium won’t touch, you need to lighten up a bit. Buy yourself a new car, maybe in a really dark shade of black.


2009 Dodge Challenger

Can retro be cutting edge?

You’re elegant and cool and on the cutting edge. You’re a trendsetter, and you’d rather chew your own arm off than follow the herd. Sadly, since silver is now the most popular color choice, it means that you’ve become the very thing you mock. Remember that you’re unique, just like everybody else.


Chrysler 300C

Now you know why mobsters favor black cars.

You’re empowered and not easily manipulated. People had best get out of your way, because you’re damn sure not getting out of theirs. You’re elegant, in a take-no-prisoners sort of way, and you also give your air conditioning a workout in the summer months.


Black wheels help hide the brake dust. Not that you'd notice it...

Officially, you’re fastidious, but let’s call it for what it really is: you’re anal retentive. Your sock drawer is the most organized among all your friends, and you probably memorized the Dewey Decimal System by the time you were in fourth grade. You keep a lint roller in your desk at work, in your glove box and in at least three other locations at home. When it comes to cheese, you favor American, even though you know it’s not really cheese.


It says, 'fast, for a Sumo wrestler'.

Sexy and speedy are the terms that define you, even if you weigh 300 pounds and couldn’t run a 10 yard dash if your life depended on it. You’re high energy, but that’s probably from the dozen Red Bulls you drink each day, following the morning pot of coffee. Your friends keep telling you to lay off the blow, but you haven’t done coke since college. There’s a little man inside you bones, and you can feel him hammering away at them. Or maybe that’s just your foot tapping on the floor.


Ford Focus RS

You don't care that this is a Focus RS; you only care that it's blue.

You’re the same as red, but about ten percent less hyper. Adderall really seems to be working for you, which is why you’ve now cut back to 10 Red Bulls per day. You’ve got a lot of interests, too bad you’re saddled with the attention span of a fruit fly. One of these days you’re going to pick up a hobby, but you don’t know when you’ll be able to fit it into your schedule.


Yes, rust counts as brown.

You’re down to earth and entirely pragmatic. You’ll wear Birkenstocks with a suit, just because they’re comfortable. You’ve been going commando since you realized you could save ten minutes per week and a hundred dollars per year if you skipped the whole underwear thing entirely.


The ultimate oxymoron: a green Hummer.

Traditional, trustworthy and well balanced, you’ve got friends who drive cars of many colors. Sometimes you’ll throw parties, just to see what happens when red car drivers mix with white car drivers. If you’re a guy, you always wear your tie with a single Windsor knot; if you’re a woman, your skirts are all knee length.

Note: Though I’ve chosen to interpret color meanings in my own creative way, they’re based on real science conducted by Leatrice Eiseman at the Eiseman Center For Color Information And Training. If you want more information on color psychology, check out www.colorexpert.com or eisemancolorblog.com.

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13 Responses

  1. I drive a black car and I chose that color because a black car signifies power, prestige and status (if it’s a prestige brand). And you are right, it means other drivers better get out of the way when I’m driving. It also means that I take myself VERY seriously and I DEMAND respect. People who drive a bright green car probably don’t take themselves as seriously or demand respect.

  2. BigRuss says:

    missing a few standard colors there…. grey and yellow….

  3. acarr260 says:

    Great post! I’ve always favored silver and red… and my foot was the floor tapping when I read that part… which kinda creeped me out just a little.

  4. Kurt says:

    acarr, that just made me laugh out loud…

  5. Leatrice Eiseman says:

    just wanted to mention that the original source of that information on personality andcar colors came from The Color Answer Book and was based on word association studies– not just “dreamed up” by an unqualified person. I know, as i am the author.

    As always, credible information gets bounced around the web and some of it is urban legend, but this is factual information.

    Leatrice Eiseman
    Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training

    • Kurt says:

      Leatrice, thanks for that and I will update the post to cite your work. I meant no disrespect, and tried to inject a little bit of humor into the topic.

  6. Mario Balza says:

    Well, that depends of the kind of car. Generally I like Black, Gray or Silver cars.

  7. 68SportFury says:

    I had a much higher tolerance for black, gray and silver when they weren’t the only choices…
    Most of my car colors have been dictated by circumstance. My first car was red, but it could have been ANY color because it was a CAR and it was MINE! The next one was white, chosen because I liked the body style (less fond of the rust and the lack of power, though).
    Next came a gray one. I found two identically-equipped new cars, one red, one gray. When I decided to pull the trigger, the red one had been sold, so gray it was.
    Then came another white one. I wanted blue, but couldn’t find a blue one with the powertrain I wanted. Still got that one.
    Next came a dark-green one. It was a RWD Mopar and the top went down, color wasn’t really an issue.
    Then came the Cranberry Stratus, which was chosen because it had the lowest mileage of the 30 identically-equipped Strats on the lot.
    And, most recently, there was another red one, because it was just like the one I started out with…

  8. Shahroz says:

    i think white reflects luxury and elegance, and black reflects power for sure…. and those are the only two colors i really like on a car :P

  9. Mark Smith says:

    Hmmm…let’s see. I’ve owned a silver w/ silver interior, black with black interior, grey with grey interior, light blue with grey interior, dark blue with grey interior, white with grey interior, red with black interior, light blue with grey interior, and gold with beige interior. Most of these have been “joint choices” with the wife.

    I’m looking at 2 choices for my new car. either Porsche Racing Green with Beige interior or Dark Metallic Blue with Stone Gery interior. Really, it depends on the shade of the color. I’m not horribly enamored with the light blues, but my wife is. I like some of the deep reds and dark blues and some of the greens are just classic sports car colors.

  10. eddie_b16b says:

    people buy new red cars because they are excited about their new car,but then they have to drive it everyday and say to themselves why?

  11. James says:

    the only car I’d get in red is a ferrari

  12. anal retentive says:

    Read elsewhere that silver vehicles signify “ego” and I believe that, judging from all the egocentric drivers in them. My preference is dark green, but the white SUV I drive now was the only SF Hyundai in the parking lot and my Jimmy was about 2 days from dying so…
    and yeah, am as my moniker indicates – but you’d better want an anal retentive/detail oriented person doing your medical testing – if you want it done correctly that is.